Toronto’s publicly funded Africentric “high school” has 6 students!

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.

8 thoughts on “Toronto’s publicly funded Africentric “high school” has 6 students!

  1. “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.”

    To be fair, the article you cite says this has a lot to do with timing: “Spence admits the board “got started fairly late in terms of marketing the program.” Officials “missed a lot of the cut-offs,” where Grade 8 students who might be interested in the program would be choosing their high schools and specialized programs”. And: “The Africentric Alternative elementary school faced similar criticism when first announced in 2007. But it at least had a healthy first-year enrolment at its 2009 opening because there was sufficient lead time to promote it and develop the program.
    Not so here.”

    The school needs (and I think deserves) some more time to prove itself.

    I think we should wait and see how many new students show up for class next year.

    Of course the real test will be to see whether or not this improves student performance. If it works, I’m all for it. Not knowing in advance whether or not it will work, I’m willing to experiment. It’s like… science.

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    • Anon1152 — It doesn’t need more time, sorry I disagree. The elementary school started with 90 students. That is a lot different than 6 with only 7 who could potentially attend next year. The reality is that parents have known since last November it was happening this September.

      The problem is not racial. The problem is lack of program. Grade 9 and 10 is the common curriculum but by Grade 11 kids accumulate their credits and need pre-requisite courses for Grade 12 — and a school with 6 kids is not going to offer anything much other than one or two academic subjects. I am a teacher. Six kids in an art or English class just doesn’t cut it. They’ll end up in the main high school for shop, science and most subjects anyway.

      Re performance, we will never know if they have done better because you can’t judge standardized tests for Grade 9 when there are only six students. I don’t know what the Grade 3 and 6 results are like in the elementary school.

      And, no, 6 students is not an experiment. We have no idea what their current performance level is and the idea that the TDSB would do a pre-test, followed by a post-test next spring, I think is never never land. They simply will claim privacy concerns and shut the door on accountability.

      Meaning, I’m not near as willing to spend a fortune on an experiment that is essentially a return to the fifties and segregation, the very civil rights issue I fought against when I was your age.

      For this school to get off on the right foot there should have been at least 45 students.

      My guess is that some of the six will quit soon. Why? Because they would have given up being with their friends, and travelling clear across the city, for little reward.

      I hope I am wrong.

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    • Anon1152 — Hope I did not sound harsh. You are entitled to your opinion. We’ll have to wait a few months to hear any feedback at all. If I miss something on the subject down the road, just let me know.

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  2. Is there something missing here? Shouldn’t public money be spent on Canadiancentric education? Where are we? Isn’t this miss directed as they could have got that at “home” so no need to immigrate. what an “Alice in wonderland” society you live in. fairy land mentality totality detached from whats in the best interests of children living in Canada and their potential future………….wake up!! Its not a dream so don’t punish the children….

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    • Tom — You lost me. Who are you addressing your comment? If it is to me, you couldn’t have actually read my post. Where does “fairyland mentality” and “don’t punish the children” come in?

      It is my understanding that parents and students in Toronto are making personal decisions and the TDSB has set up a high school with only 6 students. There are lots of alternative high schools, that is not so much the issue. I just happen to think spending taxpayers dollars to set up an entire high school around six students makes no economic or cultural sense.

      The battle as to whether to have such a school is not what I am fighting at this time. That was done in 2006 and 2007 for the Africentric elementary school and during the last year for the high school.

      That the elementary school is a success is commendable because it shows there was a demand from black parents. I may disagree philosopically, but it’s what the parents want. Also based on parent demand, there are some 40 other alternative schools in Toronto as well, such as an all-boys school, an all-girls school, a school that specializes in the arts, a school that specializes in music and band, and so on.

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      • Old White Guy — I would imagine all six are born in Canada. But, like all of us, except for Aboriginals, they have a foreign ancestral culture. I know I love reading and hearing about the wild Scots, be they highlanders or lowlanders. It is just part of us to want to know about where we came from. My problem comes in with: how far back do we go? Humanity actually started in Africa and moved to the east and beyond while others went north and west.

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