Cambridge trustee voices concern over anti-racist lesson plans

By Barbara Latkowski

A motion to address critical race theory and white privilege at the Waterloo Region District School Board was put forward by Cambridge trustee Cindy Watson at a board meeting Monday night.

“Both trustee Mike Ramsay and I worked on this together,” Watson said.

In her motion, Watson said she knows “parents fully support equity and inclusion” but has concerns that “critical race theory and or the theory of white privilege are being drawn on to develop anti-racist lesson plans” in WRDSB schools.

She also believes “some students, parents and staff fear they might be labelled racist or white supremacist if they share or bring their attention” to the use of these lesson plans and it “could create a sense of shame or guilt in their children as well as create a stigma or bias among the school population.” 

Watson is asking staff to prepare a report and presentation that explains the working definition of critical race theory and white privilege as they relate to the development of anti-racist lesson plans as well as the grade levels that the plans are introduced.

She wants the report to come back in September and wants it to include recommendations that will help support children if they internalize guilt and shame.

Watson also asked that solutions be brought forward that can prevent possible stigma and bias that could affect the school climate.

Parents could also be provided with supplemental material on the theory of white privilege before students are taught white privilege, she said.

She asked that a letter be written about parental concerns regarding critical race theory and/or the theory of white privilege being taught to their children.

In March, The Black Parent Council KW sent a letter to both the WRDSB and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, calling for 12 action items: 

1. Third-party investigation into all racial violence in WRDSB and WCDSB

2. All issues reported to human rights to be investigated by a third party

3. Third-party investigator to be an anti-racism consultant and/or culturally appropriate consultant (knowledgeable in anti-black racism)

4. Investigate inequitable policies and procedures that harm Black, Indigenous, racialized, Muslim, and queer students

5. Development and implementation of anti-racism policy for both WRDSB and WCDSB

6. Hire Black racial equity consultants to complete a full audit of both boards and best practices

7. Investigation into how policies and procedures are applied for teachers and administrators who perpetuate racial violence accountable.

8. Increase funding for CYWs, social workers, psychologists and culturally responsive mental wellness supports

9. Investigation into racially biased hiring procedures and practices

10. Afro-centered and culturally responsive sources of knowledge

11. Offer Saturday Afrocentric school for students in K-8

12. Removal of Mike Ramsay, Cindy Watson, principal of John Sweeney Catholic School and Loretta Notten, director of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

The Black Parent Council KW, a group of parents and caregivers who advocate for children experiencing racism and violence. Letters were sent to the school boards following incidents at two elementary schools in Kitchener.

In November, police were called to control a four-year-old Black student at a Catholic school in Kitchener.

A separate incident involved two children who were tied up with tape and left in a dark room at a public school in October. As a result of that incident, a teacher was charged with assault.

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