Trustees present motion for system-wide anti-oppression training in Regina public schools

·2 min read

Two Regina Public School Board trustees are proposing mandatory anti-oppression and diversity training for each employee in the school system.

That means everyone from the janitorial staff through to teachers, top board executives and office staff would complete the training aimed at decreasing instances of oppression and racism in the school system.

Ted Jaleta, one of the trustees bringing forward the motion at Tuesday's school board meeting, said broad anti-racism training and awareness is crucial to changing race-based biases in the school system.

"I believe all students need anti-racism, education and awareness. Teachers must also re-evaluate their curriculum. The students need to understand privilege and power. How did you actually get here?" Jaleta said.

NDP
NDP

If passed, the motion would task the RPSB's diversity committee with developing the training plan. Jaleta said children of colour often drop out of school after race-based bullying.

"They're being labelled as violent kids and they tend to get suspended rather than using that opportunity [to find out] what's the root cause," he said.

The anti-oppression training motion is a direct result of the Black Lives Matter movement and a subsequent report submitted by Regina's Black-African Canadian Community to the RPSB last September.

That report requested the RPSB provide teachers and support staff with proper cross-cultural and anti-racism training to help them recognize and stop racism and discrimination.

Lacey Weekes, a trustee putting forward the motion along with Jaleta, said mandatory, system-wide training will help both staff and students.

"It's all of our jobs to talk about racism, confront it so we can eradicate it and this is a necessary next step," she said."It's important that everybody across the board, we take the time to do that difficult work of looking within ourselves and seeing and recognizing our biases."

Jaleta acknowledged that teachers and support staff are currently under increased pressure due to COVID-19. He said the proposed training would take that into account and hopefully happen within the next year, depending on pandemic workloads.

As part of the motion, Jaleta and Weekes are proposing that Black History Month be added to the guidelines for division endorsed events.

A spokesperson for the school division said it doesn't comment on board motions, but noted the school division does address issues of racism.

"We have a Diversity Steering Committee that is currently meeting and discussing a variety of issues including anti-racism training and resources for Regina Public Schools. This committee includes employees from throughout the school division," Terry Lazarou said in an email.