Education Action: Toronto

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Eliminate Bottom Streaming Say Parents in Rexdale.

By Dudley Paul

Rexdale parents had strong language for their local Toronto School Board trustee John Hastings and others charged with representing their children. Worried about bottom-streaming and student profiling among other issues, parents, educators and community workers gathered at the Elmbank Community Centre Wednesday Oct 7 for a meeting sponsored by Education Action: Etobicoke North.

Citing traditionally low voter turnout, some expressed their frustration at the poor quality of political representation at all levels of government as well as how little money trickles in from the many social service bureaucracies in the community. This is true of the schools themselves, still experiencing what is now their 13th year of cutbacks. Many agreed that teachers don’t have the time to better understand and respect the many cultures that make up school communities because they are too pressed teaching the impossibly fragmented Ontario Curriculum, as well as preparing students for annual Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) testing. There is little time for teachers to be creative and thorough while better understanding the children they teach.

Another problem aired at the meeting is that too often parents just accept what schools say about their children. Struggling to get by, parents don’t have the time to question the curriculum, nor can they get involved in local politics at school or community councils. As a result, said one parent, children with minor problems are automatically given Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and placed in Special Education programs, when strong after-school tutoring program might be all they need. Instead they are labeled and end up in bottom-stream programs when they reach secondary school.

“Racism connects the dots,” said another parent. It is tied to how schools and the community are represented, the high drop out rate of young people and the lack of work available. A community worker, who had grown up in Rexdale, said that racism also keeps different ethnic members from trusting one another and working together. People need to get together to focus on a common central purpose.

What this focus point might be is the topic for another discussion when Education Action: Etobicoke North meets at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday November 4 at the Elmbank Community Centre, just north of John Garland Boulevard, east off Martin Grove Road. Come out and support your community.


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