Réseau de Savoir sur l’Équité | Equity Knowledge Network (RSEKN)

Much of the group discussion focused on what the RESKN does as a network. Ultimately RESKN is in a position to hold the Ministry of Education accountable for their Equity Action Strategy. The regional leads support local communities of practice across the province in the work they are already doing and to expand their capacity. Now that Income and Poverty have been added to RSEKN’s priority areas, it will provide ample opportunities for collaboration. One suggestion noted was to bring youth together to identify and plan for areas of change to promote equity and inclusion. Perhaps a Spoken Word Conference to reflect the priority areas and importance of equity, diversity and inclusion, which our young people can speak to so powerfully from their own experiences. Also with SPT’s connections to work on the ground in communities across Ontario we can collaborate and connect people with the RSEKN CoPs that either already exist or will be getting started.

Math, Social Justice and embedding learning about poverty in math curriculum

Schools currently have very specific ideas of how math should be taught and what it means to succeed in math that has not changed in a very long time. From a classroom perspective we can bring social justice and math together by even changing the wording used in problem solving questions. From a systems perspective eliminating academic and applied streaming is very important if we are going to improve equity and inclusion for students. However we also need to recognize that this alone will not solve the problem as the idea of streaming begins as early as kindergarten when teachers, whether consciously or not, judge children based on factors such as whether or not they live in poverty and then make assumptions about their capabilities. Teaching math in high poverty areas looks very different; partly because of a lack of trust in the school, partly because parents lack the understanding that they have rights to speak up and question the school or system.

Training is required to challenge deficit thinking about various demographics of students. Also to recognize that math exists in all contexts and can be taught in various ways using real life problems/scenarios which will engage students. The group also agreed that if teachers are going to be teaching math in schools they should be required to take more than one math course in their own education. Teachers must be properly prepared and qualified.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

A main topic in this group discussion was how effective and engaging the current high school “careers and civics” courses are and how to improve them. The CCPA highly recommends that this time should be dedicated to providing economic literacy to our students so they have a better understanding of how governments and economies work, how budget decisions are made, resources are allocated and why, and what this ends up meaning for different groups of the population.

Areas to pursue work on include:

  1. Make suggestions to adapting Careers and Civics Courses to focus more on economic literacy than financial literacy. This will provide students with a better understanding of how governments and economies work, how budget decisions are made, resources are allocated/why, and what this means for different sectors of the population. As CCoP we are in a unique position to highlight the benefits of Economic Literacy and the negative impacts of a neo-liberal focus on Financial Literacy.
  2. Provide more information and clarity on how school boards are funded, funding formulas and disparities between boards.
  3. Question the Benefits of zero tuition for post-secondary by asking Who Benefits? Erika recommended sharing CCPA Report: “It’s Complicated.”
  4. Take the opportunity to insert a focus on Classism in schools to challenge classist systemic policies and practices. This aligns with our CCoP’s priority area of “Raising the consciousness and understanding among educators of the inequities and exclusionary conditions facing low-income students and families,” which includes classism in its many forms.