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Denise Mendez

Tracey, your comment makes me woder...a cop-out? for whom?by whom?

I have issue with the article- one if the writer is refering to "African-Americans" or African-Canadiens" one would think he or she would use a capital "B".

I think there is potential for the plan to do as the supporters hope and inprove learning for the students...yes there will probably be issues to deal with such as "segregation" as the majority of students that attend will be of African- descent. But...there may be schools with large percentages of African-descendent students anyway.
So...it will be interesting to see if the school succeeds....if they get the funding that is needed, that there is curriculum development and training to sensitize teachers . I will try to follow up, as I am interested in seeing this school's progress.

Neil A. Rochelle

Wow Tracey! I'm somewhat intrigued, somewhat startled. Intentionally creating a dual system for children. It may just work but the question is, should it be necessary. In New York we have been striving to "close the gap" for years. Minority children do have lower graduation and achievement rates as a group than "white" students (hate that label). We recognize there are cultural differences that influences learning and achievement and for years school have tried to narrow the divide. Desegregation was supposed to be the answer: higher achieving role modes, better facilities and resources, highly qualified teachers. Gains have been made, but there is still work to be done. No doubt!

The notion of "special schools" is not new. We have "special" schools for students with disabilities, "special" schools for the arts and technology, "special" schools known as charter schools. Generally speaking, students in those school achieve and achieve well. The curriculum addresses the particular needs of the students attending or provides an emphasis on particular skills that motivate students. I've taught in some of those settings myself and have seen the cost and the benefit. But, here we're talking about racial segregation. Intentional racial segregation. It is obvious that those that support such a concept have given up on our current system and the government. Instead of allocating funds to look at curricular modifications or alternative programs/courses within the current structure, funds are sought to create another system.

I think my reaction is one of sadness. In a global society where we all need to live and work in harmony, the idea of children having to go to a separate school under the premise that children of color need to go to school only with children of color, and, be taught by teachers of color is something that strikes my idealistic brain with a 2x4. Are we saying that our schools should be designed by race and creed? Is there research to support that students of the same race achieve at higher levels? I don't see it. I applaud anyone that wants to improve schools or a system so that ALL students can learn and have an equal playing field. I'd say, fight that fight! To fight for segregation is something so foreign to me, I can't even imagine it.

I hope that there is more discussion about this. If the philosophy holds true, we would be building schools for Asian, Middle Eastern and Hispanic children. Then, schools for those same groups by socio-economic status. Is that the direction the future holds?

Scott McLeod

There are other districts that are creating special schools themed around cultural history: African, Arabic, Asian, etc. Some are alarmed, some see it as a natural outgrowth of the increased specialization / nichification (is that a word?) of schools and everything else in the world.

Neil, we already have a great number of rich and poor schools, both public and private. =( Given the economic stratification of our neighborhoods and our society, I'm not sure we'll ever have to do this deliberately.

A lot of racial/ethnic minorities in cities are very willing to go back to neighborhood schools, shorter bus rides, and greater connectedness to their local school buildings and forego the supposed positives of racial / income desegregation. They just don't see the benefits as outweighing the negatives. Not everyone, of course, but enough to be a fairly sizable pushback. Should we judge them like we often do the Caucasian / more affluent parents who feel the same?

Jon Becker

I've written about this (in an academic sort of way) phenomenon before and cited an article by Bruce Fuller (http://www-gse.berkeley.edu/faculty/bfuller/) about this. Specifically, Fuller cites three notable decentralization movements, one of which is that “a variety of ethnic communities, having lost faith in urban school leaders and their bureaucracies, are creating their own schools, and government is now legitimating this liberation from the state in unprecedented fashion." I go on to write, "Local tailoring of centralized educational standards and divergent, culturally based child-rearing agendas are not new to the fragmented educational system that exists in our federal republic. 'But it is the state’s legitimization of these communities and the use of public funds to bolster them that
is rare in the American context' (Fuller, 2003, p. 18)."

I don't know if this is rare in the Canadian context, but I tend to support this "nonpublic agenda" (Fuller's term). A few years ago, I was on a panel at a conference with Ted Shaw, the Director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. We were discussing the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Ed. and Shaw said, "I'm sick of chasing white people." Around the same time, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Chair of the African-American Studies program at Harvard, was quoted in the NY Times as saying that there is nothing magical about being in class with white students and that although Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP fought to overturn Plessy and the "separate but equal" doctrine, they never did get "equal." He was willing to settle for equal.

Our current system has treated so many students of color so poorly, that I'm for ANYTHING that might remedy that.

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