What is it about the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) that they consider a total of 6 students enough to keep a new high school open? Yet, that is exactly what is happening. As Moira MacDonald wrote a couple of days ago, the Africentric High School will indeed stay open. Talk about misreading political correctness!
A little background: Last fall the TDSB decided to open an Africentric high school, eventually settling on space in Scarborough’s Winston Churchill Collegiate because of the community backlash to the initial plan to locate the school in Oakwood Collegiate.
To be called the Africentric Leonard Braithwaite Program, after Ontario’s first black MPP, the final location was hardly central and the public backlash hardly a good beginning to say the least.
Readers may remember a similar level of public debate went on when the Africentric elementary school was approved back in 2007. Although I can’t find my posts that far back, I can confirm I was both for and against the idea — albeit more against than in favour.
Like most of those who were against the idea, I was against the decision because I saw it as a step back in time to segregation. I was in favour, however, because it was a measure of choice for parents. In other words, like a lot of people, I was ambivalent.
Well, the good news is that the Africentric Alternative Elementary seems to have become a great success. On its opening day in 2007, for example, it had 90 students with enrollment now up to 190 students and a growing wait list.
So kudos where kudos are due.
Now, fast forward five years to the present and it is obvious, even at this early stage of the process, that parents are willing to send their children to a culture-based elementary alternative school, but not to a similar high school.
As I said at the start, the reality is, that as of this week, there were only 6 students in the Braithwaite Program and only 7 possible additions at the end of this academic year when the first elementary school students move on to high school.
Yet, for the first week, the TDSB were paying 3 teachers and have already spent $75,000 over and above salaries. There are usually 185 days in a school year. Can you just imagine what the costs are going to be like after another 175 days?
By comparison, how might we suppose a private school would react to a start-up enrollment of 6 with the possibility of 13 next year? They would almost certainly shut the program down and save money.
I mean, is it not obvious to the TDSB administration that parents, by NOT enrolling their older children, have sent a not so subtle message that segregation at the elementary level may be fine but not so much at the high school level? Meaning, the powers that be at the TDSB have almost certainly misread what is politically correct in this instance.