Peel District School Board announces new special consultant to help address anti-Black racism

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The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) recently demanded that the Chair and Director of Education at Peel District School Board (PDSB) resign amid concerns that the board isn’t doing enough to address systemic racism and anti-black racism.

In a statement on Friday, June 12, the NCCM called for the immediate resignations of PDSB Chair Brad MacDonald and Director of Education Peter Joshua following the results of a report from lawyer and human rights advocate Arleen Huggins.

Effective immediately, Ontario’s former Education Commissioner and the province’s first Chief Student Achievement Officer, Dr. Avis Glaze, will serve as a special consultant to Peel District School Board’s Director of Education Peter Joshua.

In this role, Dr. Glaze will consult on actions that the Peel board must take in order to address and work at eliminating all forms of oppression, systemic discrimination and anti-Black racism system-wide.

Equity and excellence must go hand-in-hand. Variables such as race, gender, social class or postal code should not truncate the life chances of students, narrow their career choices, nor determine their destiny,” asserts Dr. Glaze.

Graduates of our schools must become solution-finders--confident, productive and engaged citizens of character--who contribute to nation-building. There can be no throw-away-kids, and, to that end, Peel cannot be a throw-away-school-board; they must be supported. I look forward to working with Director Joshua and his staff to improve outcomes for Black students and staff, as well as others who have been marginalized.”

Dr. Glaze will serve as an impartial critical adviser to Director Joshua, as Special Consultant and will provide candid feedback and offer concrete solutions on the strengths and weaknesses of the board as well as in the areas of anti-racism and equity.

A key area of focus will be to work with Director Joshua to develop strong, respectful, collaborative relationships with diverse communities, particularly Black communities and to consult with them.

While our commitment to anti-Black racism work is real, I accept that there is reason for mistrust, sowed by years of inaction in our schools,” notes Director Joshua.

Through Dr. Glaze’s leadership as a strong consensus-builder and capacity-builder, I believe we can rebuild trust with the community. It won’t be easy or happen overnight, but, guided by Dr. Glaze’s people-oriented and outcomes-focused approach to educational leadership, I am hopeful we can work together.”

She will also work with Joshua to establish a comprehensive plan and action to consult with diverse community groups, establish an accountability framework with quarterly reports and a final report to the public to demonstrate progress towards measurable outcomes, develop and execute a Strategic Equity Action Plan to address and work at eliminating all forms of oppression, systemic discrimination and anti-Black racism across the board and establish an equity department, strong connections to equity work across other departments, including Human Resources and a structure to address race relations on an ongoing basis.

I recognize and accept the very real and serious concerns that are being expressed by members of the community. I am listening, and I know that, to date, we have not effectively addressed anti-Black racism. We must do better--I must do better,” says Director Joshua.

I acknowledge that I need support from those who have championed anti-oppression work and created equitable and accountable educational structures. This is why I am so pleased to welcome Dr. Avis Glaze as a Special Consultant. Her 40 years of experience in education, with a focus on supporting students who have been underserved, will help us work to eliminate anti-Black racism and other forms of discrimination in the Peel board. With responsibility for the development of the Education and Inclusive Education in Ontario Schools strategy and as the founding CEO of the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, I have no doubt she will play a pivotal role in turning our system around.”

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