The recent decision by the Toronto District School Board to open Canada’s first black-focused school is being called, by some, a step towards segregation. Though Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty did not use the words himself, he stated that he is disappointed with the board’s decision and that Queen’s Park will not fund Afrocentric schools. His reasoning: a black-focused school is not in demand and “the best way for us to educate our children is to bring them together so they can come together, learn together and grow together.”
In a perfect world, this may be possible. But the reality is that there is a 40% drop out/push out rate in Toronto among black youth and the proponents of this initiative are members of the black community, who are responding to the marginalization of their youth by the current school system.
George Dei, a professor of sociology and equity studies at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT), describes it best. “There is a meaningful difference, however, between forced segregation and separation by choice.” He argues, that while segregation attempts to exclude blacks from society, black-focused schools are an attempt to help minority youth have a chance at education.