Peel District School Board implements We Rise Together 2.0: Black Student Success Strategy through collective action

Peel Region - This week, Peel District School Board (PDSB) hosted the We Rise Together 2.0: Black Student Success Strategy launch. The strategy provides a clear roadmap for the system and PDSB schools to lead to better outcomes for Black students. This event served as a demonstration of the steadfast commitment to working in partnership with community towards dismantling anti-Black racism and the systemic barriers faced by Black students and their families.

Longstanding research and PDSB data shows that anti-Black racism exists within education, that it is endemic and is evident in our schools and classrooms. Some of the ways systemic racism has manifested itself in schools includes lack of culturally relevant and responsive curriculum materials and access to regional choice learning programs, student discipline practices, streaming and concerns about hiring and promotion practices. The strategy outlines the priorities and actions that will assist PDSB in continuing to deepen its anti-racism and anti-oppression efforts and while embedding them into everything the board does in order to foster anti-racist learning and work environments.

The launch event on January 31, 2023, was a snapshot of the strategy in action. Students shared their experiences through spoken word, performances and reflections. The Black Student Success Strategy provides guidelines and actions to eliminate anti-Black racism from its operations, resources, staffing and leadership. There are six focus areas for this strategy:

  • Focus Area 1: Develop the knowledge and skills of trustees and senior leaders to lead the implementation of this strategy
  • Focus Area 2: Integrate the experiences of Black Canadians into the curriculum
  • Focus Area 3: Foster anti-racist learning and working environments
  • Focus Area 4: Continue engagement with Black communities
  • Focus Area 5: Inspire and support Black student success
  • Focus Area 6: Hire and support more Black staff

Community involvement and collaboration has been a part of every step of the creation of this strategy. It serves as an action plan for addressing the inequities that perpetuate racial disparities in educational outcomes for Black students. The board’s commitment to community is based on transparency that includes regular reporting periods and mechanisms of accountability to the community, trustees, staff, students and families.

Since Board approval of the strategy in June 2022, implementation of the strategy has been underway in schools and departments which has paved the way for deep and sustainable change in all PDSB sites through collective action. Schools are identifying their goals after analyzing their data on Black student experiences. The progress of this strategy will be tracked through measuring data of student and staff experience.

Rashmi Swarup, Director of Education, said of the ongoing work, “This event was momentous for us. At each step of this strategy, the community has led the way. For real change to happen—for systemic equity to be realized—everyone must take an active role in being part of the solution to ensure better learning and well-being outcomes for Black students and their families. I am proud of how far we have come, together, and I look forward to our continued journey in this work ahead.”

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