“The Toronto public school board’s controversial decision to open the first black-focused school in Canada should not be used as an excuse to ignore the racial problems across the whole school system. After all, only a small percentage of the black students in Toronto will be able to attend the one experimental school that is to be set up.”

Toronto Star

See the interview after the voting by the school board here

I’ve been asked numerous times what my opinion was on this issue. From the jump I have not been impressed by the whole thing. Firstly what we have here are people, many of them well meaning, who have asked the current government to fund a school, staffed with predominantly African staff to teach a predominantly African student body. My issues include wondering why we Africans insist on asking the same people who have contributed to our woes, to turn around and help us find a solution, primarily through funding, logistic or even taking the lead. 

“Niggers are scared of revolution” means that we fail to exercise maturity and common sense by collectively going of and doing our productive work, without asking for a hand out and a hand up from the architects of our dilemma. One of the key point of the “Black Focus School” submission has been the need to teach the African student positive African our story, as a means to create examples of success.  This along with seeing an African faculty will give the youngsters something to feel good aboutand perhaps lead to greater achievement in greater numbers.   

Currently in Ontario, there are independent schools for Lesbians, Gays and Transgendered youth, Aboriginal schools, Hebrew schools, Muslim schools, Eastern European schools, schools for street “Kids”, for women only. Yet when Africans seek a school that predominantly highlight there personal view point, there is a lot of bitching and moaning by people who prefer to see us at the bottom of the barrel. 

Mind you while the school is to be made accessable to the general population, even with the emphasis on teaching African my story as an integral part of the curriculum, I know not too many of the other ethnic groups won’t be allowed to attend by their parents or peers. Hell, there are many knee-grows who have stated they won’t let their children attend. The supporters of the ethnic caste system (Racism) start talking bullshit whenever African people seek to create their own solution to what ails them.

Unfortunately they can be counted on for taking some knee-grows with them to the lynching tree.  There is a forty percent failure rate of African children right now in a school system that is touted to be one of the best in the North America Union. 

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According to the Toronto star article, the school board claims to  be supporting a  system-wide proposals to help all black students do better as well as creating a black-focused school. Note that earlier efforts have been made in this direction, of course – notably in the wake of the Yonge St. riot in 1992, on which Stephen Lewis reported for the NDP government of the day.  

Following up on Lewis’s report, the Ministry of Education under the NDP government at the time, introduced anti-racism policies that included appointing the first assistant deputy minister in charge of the issue, training for all ministry staff, developing a new curriculum and forming school-community partnerships. But in 1995, the Conservative government of Mike Harris quashed those efforts. Many feel that had those policies  been in place today , there would be no call  for a black-focused school.

Some people have claimed that the board will fund the school an estimated $350,000 start-up cost, even though the location of the school and whether it is to be an elementary or high school, is still to be determined. Those who have nothing better to do also worry if the board has to recruit staff and administrators and develop a black-focused curriculum for the school – all by September 2009.

With so many qualified African teachers unable to find employment in their chosen professions, they can now nicely and responsibly fill that role. When the current  Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty’s government  came to power, they refused to reconsider reinstating many of the anti-racism policies that were scrapped in the mid-1990s to ensure all African students in the province get an equal chance at success. Of course being the duplicitous prick that he is Mcguinty has decided to try and rain on the little pleasures the community was feeling.

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For decades now, Canada especially Toronto, has been known the world over as a multicultural haven for immigrants from all points of the globe.  In fact it is alleged that the name Toronto, was derived from an Aboriginal name which meant the meeting place. People outside of Ontario are fooled into believing that ethnic caste system (Racism) is not systemically practiced in the country.  The difference between a multicultural system as practiced in Canada and a melting pot system as practiced in America Inc. is that even though the Africans in America are shut out of many avenues systemically, there are mechanisms in place to challenge and become involved in the entire process, even encouraged to have their own schools. 

In Canada the various ethnic groups are encouraged to sit in ethnic enclaves, marinating in their old world inter-cultural issues and conflicts.  These groups are not allowed much access into the system that strives to shut them out, and not being able to have avenues to effectively fight for inclusion, due to the archaic and oppressive checks and balances inherent in the Canadian system.The vote to create a black-focused school within the Toronto District School Board is a convenient distraction from the elephant in the room that the board has been ignoring for more than 10 years. Specifically, why is there a 40 per cent dropout rate among black teens?

This statistic was first made available in 1995 as a result of the Royal Commission on Learning.

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Some of the response from citizens of Ontario to the TDSB granting the African Community a “Black focus school”:·  

 As a former student of Westview Centennial Secondary School in Toronto’s Jane-Finch community (and graduating valedictorian) and a mother of three beautiful black boys, I’m curious to know.

Arlene Terry, Ajax·      

 This decision by the Toronto District School Board is a reactionary example of treating the symptoms and not the disease.

Advocates for the new school rightly pointed out that dropout rates in their community are too high and that the curriculum could do a better job of including black history, but our system is focused on inclusiveness, not segregation. I fail to see how a separate school will empower black students to compete for spots in post-secondary institutions.·  

Further, this decision sets a dangerous and perplexing precedent. It is dangerous because every ethnic, cultural or religious community that feels slighted may ask for the same treatment. It is perplexing because didn’t the Liberals recently get re-elected largely on the pledge not to establish separate schools?

Scott Vokey, Newmarket·    

 The high dropout rate, among both white and black students, in many high schools is closely related to the academic bias of the programs. Add this to the alarming dearth of trade workers and we must hope that workshops outnumber classrooms in this new Afrocentric School.·   

As a retired cabinetmaker and high-school principal, I know that pride of achievement is not restricted to the earning of a degree, but it can be witnessed in the school kitchens, woodwork and metalwork rooms, and auto shops where such facilities exist. Nothing beats being able to hold and show something you have made. Successful black electricians, chefs, carpenters and mechanics should be regular visitors alongside the black doctors and lawyers.

Charles Cook, Toronto. 

 The Toronto school board has moved onto a slippery slope by approving a racially based school. And let’s not try to deny that is what it is. Which will be the next racial or ethnic group to demand their own school? And when they do, what possible reason could the board give to deny the request?·  The most ironic thing about this decision is that racists are probably smiling about the prospect of getting black kids out of mainstream schools. How has it come to this?

Max Williams, Brampton· 

Kudos to the Toronto board for initiating a pilot Afrocentric school that strives to meet the needs of marginalized students. For those parents who choose to enroll their children, we hope it works to lower the dropout rate of black students.

For those who argue that such a school amounts to segregation, you do have an option and it’s simple: Don’t send your children.

Donna Knight, Toronto.  

 You do not produce a Barack Obama from a segregated environment. If the money the Toronto District School Board is going to spend on setting up a black-focused school was directed to implementing a curriculum that would provide Afrocentric classes for all students, perhaps we wouldn’t have the racial divisions and tensions that presently exist in Toronto schools.

Andrea Valentini, Toronto

The exclusion of the Africna youth from avenues in the system leads to hate, self-distruction and chaos, first within the mailigned culture to later spill over into the main community. If one continue to allow the failure of some citizen then there will be a decaying of other areas  of society.

 

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