At HWDSB, we are committed to co-creating a culture of belonging where staff and students feel safe, supported and valued. The Focus Recruitment Strategy supports the continued work to build a more diverse, inclusive, welcoming, equitable and supportive learning and working environment for all.
HWDSB has put together some frequently asked questions to support you in better understanding our Focus Recruitment Strategy of Black and Racialized educators. We will be updating the FAQ on an ongoing basis.
Why is HWDSB recruiting Black and Racialized educators?
The Focus Recruitment Strategy supports our Employment Equity Plan which aligns with the Equity Secretariate, Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan and PPM 165 goals. As evident in the staff census, Indigenous (2.1%), Black (1.5%) and Racialized (9%) staff are underrepresented compared to the labour market availability. Ongoing research suggests strongly that student achievement increases the more they see themselves reflected in the classroom, in the curriculum and in leaders. This indicates that there is an urgent need to create a Focus Recruitment Strategy to hire Indigenous, Black, and Racialized educators.
HWDSB is taking an intentional approach to recruit, hire, mentor, and support Black and Racialized Educators to help enhance student outcomes for Black and Racialized students who historically have disproportionately negative educational experiences.
What is the special program under the Ontario Human Rights Code?
The Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) allows governments and employers to run “Special Programs” designed to help groups of people that have historically experienced disadvantages to achieve equity and equal opportunity. The Focus Recruitment Strategy aligns with the Special Programs to promote substantive equality by creating opportunities for people and groups who face disadvantage and discrimination. For more information visit the ORHC website.
The legacies of colonialism, enslavement and anti-Black racism has detrimental impact on Black and Racialized students’ success. Black students are particularly impacted by this system where they are “pushed out” of the education system (Dei,1996) or left at the margins for failure of not conforming to hegemonic systems (Sweet et al., 2010). Research has shown that Black and Racialized students achieve greater student success when they see themselves reflected within the teacher body. Recent research suggests that with exposure to just one Black teacher in the primary grades, a Black student is 13% more likely to enroll in college. With two Black teachers, this number increased to 32% (Gershenson, Hart, Hyman, Lindsay, & Papageorge, 2018).
What specific work is HWDSB undertaking to recruit Black and Racialized educators?
The initiative is in its initial stages and will evolve over time. Early actions include promotion of the initiative, community outreach, information sessions and an internal consultation that will help inform next steps in this work.
How does HWDSB know this strategy will be impactful?
HWDSB is using an evidence-based approach to improve student success for Black and Racialized students. We are focused on the long term gains this strategy will provide us with.
Currently HWDSB’s student census data is being analyzed which will provide a better understanding of the makeup of the student population at HWDSB. Prior to the student census being completed, consultations were conducted with community partners, parents, and HWDSB students to review the student census questions. The report entitled; We All Count: Student Census Consultation Report (2021) provides us with information from different stakeholders who stress the importance of HWDSB addressing persistent gaps in outcomes for historically underserved students and creating a culture of belonging where all students feel safe, supported, and valued.
In May 2021, a report entitled, Reimagining Educational Programming Partnerships in HWDSB provided an overview of 11 consultations conducted between March 2021 and April 2021 about educational programming partnerships since the termination of the police liaison program. Within these consultations, participants spoke at length about representation (seeing people like themselves in leadership roles, those who understand their lived realities as educators) within the classroom and school.
In October 2021 HWDSB received a report entitled Community Safety and Well-Being Action Plan for Black Youth in Hamilton Schools: Final Report. This report highlights the prevalence of anti-Black racism within our schools and the calls to action to diversify school board staff. This report supports and is consistent with many of the recommendations in the Workplace Equity Audit.
Are teaching positions available at HWDSB?
HWDSB regularly hires occasional teachers, for which there is always a need. Once teachers are on the occasional list, they will have an opportunity to apply for a permanent position when one becomes available. This is a process for all teaching position at HWDSB.
How is this work aligned with HWDSB’s goals and other work?
This work supports the Ministry of Education’s Equity Action Plan, which includes an action item to “Work with school boards to establish a focus on diversity in teacher and Early Childhood Educator (ECE) recruitment and hiring processes. Strengthening diversity in leadership and in the classroom helps not only to promote a sense of belonging among students, but also helps to bolster innovation and creativity in the school environment.”
Is this the only Focus Recruitment HWDSB is planning?
In 2021, HWDSB successfully supported the recruitment of participants from the Project Search Program. Through this program HWDSB was able to hire and onboard full time permanent staff who completed the Project Search Program.
HWDSB will work closely with the Indigenous Cultural Team to launch an Indigenous Recruitment Strategy later.
HWDSB will continue to monitor and assess our workforce needs for ongoing focus recruitment initiatives.
Why can’t we just hire candidates based on merit?
As outlined by the Ontario College of Teachers, all teachers in Ontario must hold a teaching certificate. Focusing on merit alone presumes that if everyone works hard enough, they can achieve anything. However, this phrase presumes that everyone has access to the same opportunities. We know that equities are built into society that allows some groups to prosper and others to struggle. For example, if you are in an advantaged position in society, believing the system is fair and that everyone could just get ahead if they just tried hard enough does not create any conflict for you. However, this statement does not consider the way in which our society is created to benefit those within the dominant group, those with capital.