Historically, the education system has been used as a tool to propagate discriminatory and prejudiced ideologies. It is well known that the ideologies and policies of the past were based on discriminatory schools of thought regarding the differences between race, gender, and class. With this as a guiding understanding, we seek to put together a task force to specifically analyze which aspects of public-school policy continue to adversely impact our minority students. The foundation of this task force will be through the collection and analysis of race-based, gender-based, and economic-based data to determine and isolate problematic structures within the public education system. It will only be through the analysis of the policies in place, the history of their creation, and the impact on minority groups within this system that meaningful change can be made.
The task force will also look at methods of building school culture and developing the necessary school-based resources to impact the ongoing learning of students and staff. This includes, but is not limited to, the development of school-based equity committees, the ongoing process of learning about and the deconstruction of implicit bias, and the development of professional learning programs that can be facilitated to all CBE staff on the subject of anti-discriminatory work, as well as locally develop an anti-discrimination course, and a review of the K-12 Alberta curriculum to address necessary changes to reflect the diversity of the Alberta student body.
To coordinate and strengthen anti-discriminatory work through data collection, analysis, and policy creation in accordance with the aim of disrupting systemic prejudice and discrimination.
1. Build a comprehensive data set based on race, gender, and economic status.
4. An analysis of curriculum programs and the impact they have on student success
6. An analysis of course enrolment based on race, gender, and economic class in an effort to identify trends and possible systemic limitations to our distribution of equitable opportunities.
7. Research the origins of current educational practices to develop a historical analysis of potential discriminatory policies that may remain in our current system.
8. Analyze trends in hiring practices to identify potential bias in the hiring process
Potential Task Force Members
The task force would ideally be a combination of educators, policy makers, and analysts from the community.
Potential collaborative opportunities exist through partnerships with our local Universities (Mount Royal University, University of Calgary) through their Public Policy, Education, History, and Sociology faculties and student base.
This task force would need to be dedicated, and not run as a secondary duty of employees from the Calgary Board of Education. To complete this work in a timely, organized, comprehensive, and effective manner, this task force should be the sole focus of its members during its initial run. Too often is this the work of a committee meeting once a week for a year, yielding nothing.
This work is challenging. It is disruptive. However, at its core, it is the work that will have long term effects that align with the goal of public education. Public education has the rare power to direct society towards a better future. This power cannot be taken for granted in light of daunting circumstances. Sacrifices and investments must be made into developing our future. Until we seek to understand the problem, we will never truly be able to fix it.
We must do this work.
Courtney Walcott, Social Studies & English Language Arts Teacher
Western Canada High School