Supporters of Black-Only School Shut Down Meeting

Toronto CTV, November 29, 2007

Protesting parents shut down a Toronto District School Board meeting on Wednesday after realizing the issue of a black-focused school would not be discussed.

Dozens of supporters of a proposal to implement a black-focused school showed up to last night’s meeting expecting to discuss details of a report on the issue.

The TDSB spent $300,000 preparing the controversial report, which is the first comprehensive survey that includes information on race and ethnicity.

However, when parents realized that the report would not be discussed, many erupted in outrage.

“You guys have the power to make a decision and move on tonight!” one woman shouted. “We want to move on!”

Board chair Sheila Ward adjourned the meeting but it reconvened about an hour later.

Lloyd McKell, the board’s executive officer of student and community equity, apologized to parents but he eventually adjourned the meeting again after more interruptions.

Officials said they were still gathering information from town hall meetings held earlier this month.

A new meeting on the issue is now scheduled for January.

The debate for a black-focused school has enraged some parents, who feel the initiative is a dangerous throwback to the days of segregation.

However, some parents, community leaders and educators support the concept. They say the current curriculum is failing the city’s black youth.

More than half of black male teens at Toronto’s public schools haven’t earned the 16 credits required by the end of Grade 10, according to the school board.

Supporters of the plan say an “African-centred alternative school” would lower the dropout rate of young black males.

Some parents say an African-centred school with black teachers and role models would help black youths graduate and succeed.

The school board’s proposal calls for a school from junior kindergarten to Grade 8 that would have more black teachers, mentors and a stronger focus on students’ heritage.

The school would teach the Ontario curriculum and have more parent involvement. If the idea is approved, the black-focused school could open as early as next fall.

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