Toronto approves Africentric alternative school

To address the underachievement of Black students, the Toronto District School Board has approved the creation of a K-5 alternative Africentric school, reports Education Canada. The curriculum will integrate the histories, cultures and contributions of people of African descent and the school will be housed in an unused wing of an existing K-6 elementary public school.

After lengthy debate in the community and despite concerns that it was a return to segregated schools, the Board narrowly approved of the proposal. The alternative school was proposed by two parents. Parents supporting the Black focus school claimed that the public school did not offer their children a culturally meaningful curriculum, role models who can support identity formation, high academic expectations or learning environments in which they can achieve them.

As for segregation, supporters say de facto school segregation based on income already exists. About 200 pupils are expected to enroll. Current plans call for a 3-year pilot program to develop a model for integrating the histories, cultures and contributions of people of African descent into the curriculum in three other elementary schools and for a staff development, research and innovation centre for improving school achievement of marginalized and vulnerable groups.

Debating Values: Race, Class and Academic Achievement, Education Canada, Fall 2008, pp. 16-20.

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