Saturday, 31 December 2011

Africentric Schools - are they the right way to help our Africentric students?

In 2012 - the TDSB will embark on adding an Africentric High School to compliment our elementary Africentric school.

There has been some concern raised about why we are doing this? It's simple. Students who are identified as africentric don't graduate from high school - and no matter what the provincial government does this group isn't showing any significant improvement.

So Dr Spence thinks that these specialty schools will help them. Will it? It will take time to know for sure but I hope so - their graduation rates of about 60% is not good enough - without a high school diploma job choices are very limited and long term poverty is inevitable - thus the cycle continues.

I do look forward to success and then I hope that the successes of the specialty schools can be extrapolated and shared with any school in our system and beyond. TDSB is not the only school district struggling with these issues.

As we move forward with all the specialty schools - my hope is that we are meeting the needs of students who would otherwise be at risk and we are saving them one student at a time - if necessary.

Reflections on 2011 - The UGLY

Well haven't posted in awhile - the end of the year always seems to be busy with a flurry of activity!

So 2011 is quickly coming to a close and its time to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly. So let's start with the ugly....

Here it is 17 years after I was first elected and it's like deja vu all over again - the TDSB is facing a $80 to 90 Million shortfall and there seems no likely solutions - the only way to balance the books is to cut programs which means we hurt kids.

It's hard to believe in a developed country that we still struggle with the economics of education. I have made this statement so many times I'm sure many are sick of it BUT to me it will always be true - education is the great equalizer! I have seen kids who thought they had no hope become doctors, lawyers and even some of the best teachers I know in our system - where did they get this hope? From adults who made a difference in their lives and in most cases a teacher or a coach.

I enjoy speaking to exemplary teachers and the most important question I ask is how did they become so caring and dedicated and I have yet to have one not point me to a teacher who made a difference in their life.

We have poverty issues in Toronto and the GTA - it's sad that so many of our students go hungry every day while they live around abundance around them - how do we fix this? The first step is giving them the best education possible and creating the gateway to a better life - not a hand out a hand up.

Any study I've ever scene clearly articulates that monies spent earlier in people's lives is saving in the long run - so why don't politicians get it? is it because they don't vote? How do we articulate for the kids who don't have a voice, don't have involved parents or don't have parents who know who to call to get what they want.... Who speaks for these kids falling through the cracks - while I know many of my colleagues do BUT our hands are tied behind our back because of how we are funded - where are the citizens of Toronto to demand that monies raised in Toronto - stay in Toronto?

I'm not looking forward to 2012 as a Trustee as I see many difficult decisions ahead - AGAIN!!