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Tory Pleads Relevance, Afri-School Not Special, U.S. Contenders Dropping Like Flies

Provincial Conservative leader John Tory, battling to stay employed in the face of disaffected fellow partiers who want to hold a leadership review next month, says in a letter on his website that he has travelled the province listening to members and coming up with ideas to address their concerns. The Tories are lucky; a leader who also had a job as an MPP probably wouldn’t have time for stuff like that.
Provincial education minister Kathleen Wynne has said that the Province will not provide additional funding for the black-focused school approved by the Toronto District School Board this week. Board officials expressed disappointment that the Province is not supporting them in their proud march towards segregation. [Check out the Torontoist vs. Torontoist debate over black-focused schools from last November.––Ed.]
South of the border, John Edwards bowed out of the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination, meaning that the nominee will for the first time ever be either an African-American or a Woman-American. On the Republican side, Rudy Guiliani has also dropped out to start a business hawking “America’s Mayor” t-shirts on eBay.
The Afghan senate has endorsed a death sentence for a student convicted of insulting Islam by downloading articles from the Internet which are said to question the Koran. The senate, of course, represents the government that Canadian soldiers are dying to defend against religious extremists.
Photo by Patrick Metzger.


  • Ben

    From the last link:

    The extremist Taliban movement that is waging an insurgency against Mr. Karzai’s administration has also demanded “severe punishment,” calling Mr. Kambakhsh the “new Salman Rushdie.”

    I think the new government would probably do well to do the opposite of whatever the taliban says.

  • Canadian Ire

    Afrocentric schools in Toronto are not examples of segregation. If a gaggle of white supremacists forced African Canadians out of our public school system, forced them into a separate school system, and then under-funded that system — that would be an example of segregation.
    The only segregation I see is the government’s decision to fund one school system, but not the other. It looks to me like it’s either Euro-centrism, or nothing, when it comes to our current government.

  • rek

    As long as it’s not mandatory and the kids learn the same stuff as the rest of the kids, I don’t see the harm in seeing how it goes. Because, well, what if it’s a success and the drop out rate falls? Wouldn’t that be good?

  • David Topping

    It is literally not segregation, because segregation requires a loss of agency on those being segregated. With respect to race, you don’t segregate yourself, someone else segregates you.
    Ken’s half of the argument in the Torontoist vs. Torontoist debate we had over the schools pretty much mirrors my own opinion. I was talking with someone over the weekend who pretty much made the best argument in favor of the schools I’ve heard yet: when the school boards announced special schools focussed on LGBTQ students (or students with accessibility needs or etc. etc.) where was the ire?

  • Patrick Metzger

    Lots of stuff to clarify here.
    Firstly, Ken was wrong. Secondly, David, you don’t get to define the word segregation to suit you; loss of agency has nothing to do with it. Being segregated means separating on the basis of race, religion or other factors, voluntarily or otherwise.
    Canadian Ire, as far as funding goes, the province isn’t refusing to pay, they just won’t provide additional funding beyond what a new school would normally receive.
    And Rek, it’s all well and good to say “let’s see how it goes” except this grand experiment pulls resources from other projects that might be far more successful at achieving the desired results without ghettoizing kids on the basis of colour. No empirical evidence has been provided to suggest that this is a good idea, and emotional arguments are not a sound basis for something as important as education.
    What we do know is that the one school in Toronto which is segregated along racial lines, the First Nations School of Toronto, has the worst academic standings and highest suspension rate in the TDSB, in spite of teaching students to take pride in their culture.
    Afri-centric schools will simply encourage the kind of subtle “us/them” thinking that is a slow poison in the bloodstream of our society.

  • David Topping

    Patrick, I’m not tweaking the definition. The OED‘s definition of segregation as it applies to race is:

    To subject (people) to racial segregation; to enforce racial segregation in (a community, institution, etc.).

    It necessitates subjugation.
    I think we both agree that we’re talking about a group of people voluntarily seeking out a different form of education than they’re getting (and not being forced into it)––”segregation” may just be a word, but it evokes a whole sea of negative connotations, which is why it’s important to distinguish it from what is going on here.

  • Mark Ostler

    Would it be too hard to just change public school curriculums (curriculae?) to reflect diversity? Shouldn’t this be done anyway?

  • Patrick Metzger

    David, I’ll see your OED and raise you a Merriam-Webster’s – “the separation or isolation of a race, class, or ethnic group by enforced or voluntary residence in a restricted area, by barriers to social intercourse, by separate educational facilities”
    Anyway, I’m not trying to be so disingenuous as to suggest that an Afri-centic school in Toronto is comparable to what was going on in Alabama in the 50′s or South Africa in the 80′s. What I will say is that it engenders the kind of divisive thinking about race that leads to abominations like apartheid in the first place.

  • Canadian Ire

    So, Patrick, do you consider the formation of an Afro-centric school in Toronto the first step in the adoption of an apartheid governmental system here in Toronto? I don’t think your slope is slippery enough…
    I ask you to consider the difference between a notion of multiculturalism dependant on a homogeneous system (our current public school system), and a notion of multiculturalism that acknowledges that there can be different systems that, while different, are not hostile one to the other. Could a Euro-centric system of education live alongside an Afro-centric one? I would hope so…

  • Patrick Metzger

    You’ve missed my point entirely.
    I’m not suggesting that black schools will literally lead to apartheid. What I am saying is that the idea that people require different types of education based on the colour of their skin is simply racism masquerading as multiculturalism.
    Further, the idea that kids are failing in school because they aren’t spending enough time learning about how Africans invented geometry is bizarre. The social problems that face at-risk black youths didn’t originate in the educational system, and they won’t be solved there.

  • Canadian Ire

    I think you may be misunderstanding the appeal of African Canadian families who desire an Afro-centric education system. They don’t want such a system because of their complexion, but because they live and thrive in an African Canadian community that has it’s own aspirations, history, and breadth of knowledge. That isn’t something that can be off-handedly dismissed as ‘racism’. It’s about something far deeper and more complex than you are describing.

  • Marc Lostracco

    A black-focused school may not technically be segregation, but what it does is ghettoize the school system. If there is a problem with black kids not getting the curriculum they need, then the schools are failing all of our children as a whole.
    Throughout my education, I had barely a mention of black history, despite the fact that we encounter its legacy every single day, and we all directly benefit from the advances made—but believe-you-me, I had to know what date in pre-Confederation history the Treaty of Utrecht was signed. That’s where I see the problem lying.

  • andrew

    I haven’t made up my mind fully on this issue, but mostly I disagree with the idea. How is the “black” or even African experience homogenous enough to be able to accomodate the Diaspora? African students who have recently immigrated to Toronto from Northern Africa are very different from Southern African kids as well as Jamaican kids. What do they all have in common besides skin colour? Are there commonalities significant enough that are shared in all cultures based on the continent to allow for a distinct difference in pedagogy from a European-based system? If a afri/o-centric school has to teach an Ontario curriculum, how is going to differ from a regular school in the TDSB? Because of the experience of the teachers? These are things I’m curious about; ultimately I don’t have children so it isn’t that important to me.

  • Diisparishun

    African students who have recently immigrated to Toronto from Northern Africa are very different from Southern African kids as well as Jamaican kids.
    This is a small point, but I think that the curriculum primarily aimed at Black students and their heritages, so North African immigrants aren’t really of relevance. Mind you, by that standard Toronto has already had an Afrocentric cultural heritage school running since 1979, albeit without public funding. Maybe the TDSB would like to fund it?

  • rek

    Patrick – Evidently the TDSB felt that money would be put to better use with an Afrocentric school. Arguably the same kids will be receiving the benefit.
    Change of some sort was necessary, as status quo spending/funding has led to, or at least not corrected, a 40% drop out rate among black kids.