Here we go again. Part 2 of Toronto District School Board (TDSB) political correctness gone to extremes. The first part was the setting up of an Africentric elementary school program at Sheppard Public School two years ago. And, no matter how many claims we hear about how successful that school is with its 161 students and 55 on a waiting list, two wrongs don’t make a right. In other words, I don’t see this type of alternative school as an example of parent choice — because its basic premise is segregation.
So, why has this topic come up again? Well, according to Moira MacDonald at the Toronto Sun, apparently the previous Board asked for a feasibility study and the report relating to that study was allegedly released this past weekend before the trustees could read it and respond to it. Whatever the communications problems, it’s the rationale behind such a segregated school that bothers me — to overcome the reason 40% of Toronto’s black students are dropping out of high school.
Talk about a non sequitur or illogical statement. What has a 40% drop out rate got to do with an Africentric curriculum? It cannot be the lack of such a curriculum that is the problem, otherwise there would be a 100% drop out rate. Instead, we know that 60% of Toronto’s black teens don’t drop out. Yet, rather than look at retention rates and why the larger number don’t drop out, the TDSB is looking for magical solutions that don’t offend anyone.
Well, that is the same kind of politically correct, non-progressive thinking, that is going on in the District School Board of Niagara, with their DSBN Academy. Launching in September 2011 in a school in Welland, it is ostensibly for economically disadvantaged — poor — children and youth whose parents did not receive a post-secondary education. Interesting that the DSBN is linking poverty to anyone without a post-secondary piece of paper when millions of Canadians have done very well for themselves through work experience and apprenticeships.
So, might I suggest that the colour of a student’s skin, economic disadvantage, or their parents lack of a post-secondary education are not the problems. Rather, what is the problem, and no amount of specialized curriculum will fix it, is the attitude of the students and their families towards education and the future. Do they, for example, look to the future with anticipation? Do the parents praise their children and tell them that they can be anything they want to be with perseverance and self-discipline? Or, do they blame “the school system” and everyone else for their problems?
Are school boards perfect? Obviously not. But, for an example of the type of forward-thinking I am getting at, listen to the wise words of a current Oakwood Grade 11 student, Tyler Stewart, who is quoted in the Toronto Star as saying : “Why can’t you just offer Africentric courses in history and literature instead of changing the whole feel of the school.”