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School district’s English as Second Language training zeroes in on … oppression

A Canadian school district’s training for ESL — English as a Second Language — teachers apparently had little to do with the teaching of The King’s, opting instead to focus on oppression and ways to combat it.

The York Region District School Board training session on “anti-oppression agreements” drew content in part from Glenn Singleton (“Courageous Conversations”) and Robin DiAngelo (“White Fragility”).

As noted by former educator Chanel Pfahl on X, these agreements included “I will reflect on my power and privilege that are the result of my social identities and positionality, and how I perpetuate oppressive ideologies,” and “I accept that the institution of education is instrumental in maintaining and further white supremacy.”

Another agreement literally enforced the opinion that white supremacy is a “lived experience.”

The training’s “principles of oppression” claimed we all live “within a socially constructed hierarchy” where some are “privileged” and others “exploited.” As an example, people with disabilities are “devalued” and “their contributions to society” are ignored simply because of their disabilities.

Another principle was the dominant culture determining societal norms “by which [then] everyone is compared.” Since the wearing of the hijab is not very common in Canada, it therefore is considered “abnormal.”

MORE: Canadian university changes ‘BIPOC’ to ‘IBPOC’ because indigenous oppression is ‘unique’

There also was the matter of school calendars — they’re “organized according to the Christian Faith [sic]” and thus its celebrations are the most reflected.

An aspect of the training actually (seemingly) relevant to ESL was a section on “intersecting social identities” (pictured) which appears to imply that “multilingual language learners” are inevitable victims of social ostracism.


Note, too, the accompanying video in the lower left highlighting critical race theory developer Kimberlé Crenshaw.

The aforementioned Glenn Singleton believes white people’s “talk” is “verbal,” “intellectual” and “task-oriented,” while the communication of people of color is “emotional” and “personal.” One progressive professor described Singleton’s “Courageous Conversations” program as “a kind of involuntary therapy session—the kind of thing that my friends who used to be in obscure Maoist organizations report having gone through regularly.”

DiAngelo, who makes five figures for her anti-racism workshops and coined the term “white fragility,” believes there are too many white teachers and says whites who treat everyone equally are “dangerous.”

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MORE: Lecturer cautions students not to challenge her on ‘systemic oppression’

IMAGES: Chantal Pfahl/X

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.