Some argue that black-focused schools represent a reversion to the days of segregation, but there is a meaningful difference between forced
segregation and separation. It is hard to argue with the facts, especially when they go back decades. And the facts show that black students in
Ontario, and particularly in Toronto, are more at risk of failure and of dropping out of school than their non-black classmates. Research also shows
black students are more likely to be streamlined into the less-demanding applied courses in high school, away from university-bound academic
That's why some black leaders, fed up with years or even decades of little or no progress in addressing the problems, are now calling for special
programs and black-focused schools in Ontario for black children.
Experts say there are several key reasons for the poor results for black students. Socio-economics play a big part. Students do best when their
parents are highly educated, speak English at home, have good incomes and stable jobs and homes. Visible minorities lag behind on many of these
counts. Discrimination is another factor. It exists and hampers blacks' ability to succeed in all areas of society. The Ontario Human Rights
Commission made that clear in a recent report.
As you can see this will continue for many generations to come. As students do not become educated they grow and usually do not have high incomes.
This is also reflected in their
children. As the above paragraph suggests, highly educated parents pay a big role in their child's education.
It is obvious to see why this can carry on.
The proposal for black-focused schools, which would have more black teachers, African studies programs and black guidance counsellors, is not new. The
1993 Royal Commission on Learning recommended Toronto set up demonstration schools focused on the needs of black students.
Toronto is a multicultural city that is a model to the world. One of the reasons it works is its institutions, first among them its schools. When
black kids grow up with white kids and Asian kids, they learn the tolerance that is the essential glue for the community. Indeed, many black parents
and educators in Ontario strongly oppose the idea of black-focused schools for just these reasons.
My view is that where there is established educational disadvantage — reflected in race-based statistics — we must never close the door to new, or
even radical, educational options for youth.
This brings up another point: Where will it stop?
We have a collective duty to Ontario's disengaged youth. The consequences of silence and inaction are too great for all of us.
Clearly, our schools must do a better job of delivering the resources that struggling black children need. That must be the first step, before public
schools boards start looking at controversial proposals to create specialized schools for blacks - or any other ethnic or cultural group.
Black students need more role models. The Toronto education board is looking for an aggressive campaign to recruit promising black students as future
Hopefully, this will help black student get the education they deserve.
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