New report details lack of representation on Winnipeg school boards, teaching staff

Winnipeg –

A new report is sheding light on the lack of representation on Winnipeg school boards and staff, while calling on the province to enact policies aimed at improving educational outcomes for racialized students.

The State of Equity in Education report was drafted by the Newcomer Education Coalition, an organization formed in 2014 to promote culturally and socially inclusive learning environments for immigrant and refugee students.

The group launched the first State of Equity in Education report in 2020 and issued 10 calls to action to the Manitoba government, school divisions and faculties of education.

“The first report, we really looked at that representation piece in terms of what community was saying, so things like terminology. We looked at creating an equity office which led to another coalition that’s looking within each of the school divisions, things like hiring policies and what that looks like for people to be able to find that representation,” said Kathleen Vyrauen, Newcomer Education Coalition co-chair.

The 2021 report found just six per cent of school trustees identify as racialized, noting only the Winnipeg School Division and Seven Oaks school boards have racialized school trustees. Four school divisions have no racialized trustee representation, the report found.

It also notes a lack of representation for teachers in Winnipeg schools.

“The demographics of our student population right now are not being reflected in the teaching staff,” Vyrauen said. “So with immigration trends and all the newcomers and what classroom dynamics look like, I think it’s important that teachers have that lived experience to be able to connect with their students.”

To address these gaps, the report outlines five new calls to action, including calls for the provincial government and locally elected school boards to implement employment and student equity policies and programs, and to work with newcomer, refugee and immigrant-serving organizations to increase the number of racialized people pursuing careers as educators.

This is on top of three other calls carried over from the previous report.

“We have this pool of internationally trained educators that are having a hard time transitioning into the teaching force. So for us, we really want to highlight that and find ways in which we can support them,” Vyrauen said.

The findings of the report will be presented to school divisions, faculties of education and the province.

The entire report can be found here.

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