Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Toronto (black) school question

In other news, the number of applicants for the proposed "Afro-centric" school in Toronto was, at least as of a couple of days ago, way below expectations. Only 15 students had enrolled and the Toronto school board saying it needs at least 40 students to be viable. We don't know what the final enrollment numbers will be but it may still fall short.

I said some time ago it was a very bad idea to begin with. I still think it is if it actually goes ahead. Our schools should be teaching our kids to be Canadians period, not Canadians of a certain ethnic or racial origin. Aren't we segregated as it is?

On the one hand, we have our education system to blame. When I was in school (a predominantly white school), they made a point about teaching about the Underground Railroad, Africtown in Halifax, and the dangers of prejudice overall.

They even taught us about the infamous Regulation 13 which was an attempt to ethnically cleanse the French from Ontario in the pre World War I eara.

Now, they only teach Canadian history past World War II. That's it. No underground railroad, no Confederation, no Louis Riel, no Manitoba School Question, no Reg 13 and squat about Africtown and the Holocaust. Only "multiculturalism." We cannot understand why we came to that policy if we don't understand the history behind it. I don't blame the teachers who want to teach the truth, I blame the jackasses at the Ministry of Education who's forcing their hands.

And then the government blames us for ignorance?

Where's the pride? And it's not a black problem -- it's our problem. And by us, I mean all of us.

Bill Cosby was right on this one -- this whole notion of a "black" education or teaching "ebonics" is baloney. The kids do have their share of the blame but so do the parents who would rather, as he said, spend $500 on shoes rather than less than half of that teaching phonics. His "Poundcake" speech is still controversial five years later but it goes right to the point. And while he was speaking mostly to blacks I think the message applies to all of us.

We need to take our schools back, and our kids, before things are too late. Even if open to all, schools that teach from a narrow point of view -- which they do already -- is the worst place to start.

This isn't an issue of black and white. This is our problem, our responsibility. We need to be teaching tolerate to our children but we don't have to add insult to injury. It's not the education that's the problem; it's the parents and society that doesn't fix the broken windows the moment they're broken. Why is it that some pizza chains don't serve whole neighbourhoods after a certain time? It's not the blacks, or Arabs, or whatever section of society. It's because after that certain time, people of all races, all religions -- at least the troublemakers within their respective groups -- that go in and cause the problems and make us live in fear.

I'm a progressive, but I will not accept fear as the price of progress. Progress should mean hope. This is one issue we should be standing up with our conservative brothers and sisters -- even if we don't necessarily agree with the means, I think we agree on the ends of making education better and reducing crime. But it starts with good parents who make sure their kids keep their sticks on the ice rather than sliding on thin ice right into the prisoner's box of a courtroom.

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Skinny Dipper said...

I'm not aware of the secondary school curriculum. Students in grades seven and eight at the elementary level do learn Canadian history before WWII. Teachers can include studies about black history or the holocaust if they can fit them into the curriculum. Usually, Language Arts is a good subject to study events that can't fit into studying the History Curriculum.

One problem with the particular proposed black-focused school is that no bussing will be provide. The school, where the Afri-centric program would take place, is located away from a place with a large black Canadian population. Parents/single moms would need to drive their students to the school. If one lives in Jane-Finch, it would be a challenge to take a child to school by car or city transit. This may be part of the reason why there are only 15 students registered.

Personally, I do support an Africentric school on a trial basis. Not only could students learn content that relates to black culture and history, they could learn social skills so that they can adapt to an ever changing world. Would such a school encourage segregation? In the Toronto area today, there are plenty of schools that are already defacto segregated with populations that are 90% black, Jewish, Muslim, white or other. Note that some of the categories could overlap. No one complainst that a school is too white. In Toronto today, white parents are trying to send their children to schools with low ESL student enrollments. Many ESL students come from the Middle East and Asia.

Anonymous said...

I learned all of that stuff in school, and I finished just a few years ago.

An Afri-centric school is a bad idea for 2 reasons:

1: They already have a native school and it's a horrendous failure becuse it's a solution that's looking for a problem.

2: We've already found a way to solve this problem, it's called "Pathways to Education" If you care about this issue, donate to this absurdly effective charity.

(nothing to do with anything, but this is the first time I've had word verification that looks like a real word "subwings")