"Devour the moose!"

While Nellie and her mom were out yesterday I watched a documentary called The Heart Of The Game (imdb | rotten tomatoes) about a Seattle high school girls basketball team. While the entire team was followed for several years, the main focus was on the coach (a college tax professor) and Darnellia Russell, a star guard who goes through a pretty huge roller coaster ride over the course of the film. Recommended, especially if you like sports, and basketball in particular.


Last week the Toronto District School Board voted to approve the creation of one or more “afro-centric” schools, to focus on black students. Premier Dalton McGuinty clearly isn’t a fan of this decision, but I don’t see how the provincial government can take an official position like that when Ontario still has an entire Catholic school board.

I’m really torn about this. In an ideal world something like this wouldn’t be necessary; black kids, white kid, kids of any ethnicity or background would be treated equally in the existing school system. However, given the high dropout rate among black kids, it’s obvious that something’s broken and needs fixing. Whether or not it’s the right answer to open an afro-centric school, at least the school board is acknowledging that something needs to happen. I don’t buy all the panicked murmuring about this being segregation; while it’s not ideal, no one’s forcing black kids to stay away from white schools.

So, the question becomes whether the school(s) will work. Will dropout rates for black kids at these schools be lower than at traditional schools? If so, I guess most people would see that as success, but it’d be hard to judge; would these schools have more or less public funding than traditional schools? More or less private funding? Better teachers? More motivated students? It’s hard to conduct a reasonable test when it’s not apples to apples.

But let’s say all the external factors were the same and dropout rates at these schools fell below the average. Let’s say the dropout rate at afro-centric schools fell below the overall dropout rate for students of all races, but only black students were allowed to attend. We’d then have segregation of a new kind, and all the complicated debates that go along with it (see affirmative action). Then again, economic segregation already exists today because of the private school system, so I guess this is nothing new.

One problem at a time, I guess. It’ll be interesting to see how this progresses, and how successfully it is…if that can even be measured.

[tags]the heart of the game, afro-centric schools, toronto district school board[/tags]

0 thoughts on “"Devour the moose!"

  1. When you compare the proposed system to the Native situation, many reserves offer their own schools but they are not mandated to go there. They can attend public school. The same problems still exist in both. Motivation depends on the student…usually the Native schools get young, inexperienced teachers who are looking to get experience and then move on rather than staying and making a difference. They don’t have the commitment it would take to develop relationships and make it work. Now…having said that. The job is tough…tougher than public schools. You are dealing with a lot of different things…or at least it is more in yoru face. Poverty, substance abuse, loss of culture, disrespect of elders that trancends into the school culture. Let’s hope it works but it will be a long, hard road.

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