Education Action: Toronto

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Jane and Finch Parents Blast TDSB ARC Process

by Doug Little

A recent meeting of parents concerned about the TDSB’s consultation process called Area Review Committees (ARCs) in the Jane Finch community boiled over into anger and recrimination towards board officials and trustees who were sent home with a very clear message that the community would not sit still for any school closings in their neighbourhood.

Jane Finch is a hard scrabble neighbourhood struggling to survive amid gangs, drugs and poverty. It is primarily a black community but also very multicultural with many recent immigrants struggling to get traction in a difficult environment. Nevertheless the parents demonstrated their love for the schools as they realize that this is the only way up for their kids.

The parents of five schools in the community were invited to the ARC meeting to discuss the future of the schools. Rosy pictures were presented of the renovations to some schools if others were allowed to close. The parents were not buying it. They pinned down board chair Bruce Davis and local trustee Stephanie Payne on the fact that savings due to closings in Jane Finch would mainly be spent to build new schools in Scarborough.

When the time came to break up into small groups the parents continued to pepper the trustees and officials with questions and refused to accept the TDSB agenda for the meeting. Finally Superintendent Donna Quan was forced to end the meeting and promised to consult with some leading parents before going any further in Jane-Finch.

The parents understand that the board is attempting to sugar-coat the bitter pill of school closings and disguise the agenda by diversion. The board would be very much advised not to patronize the parents but instead to organize them to make life very uncomfortable for the area MPPs, especially the Liberal MPPs who need to be given the very clear message that if any schools close without our consent the MPP will not be going back to Queen’s Park. The trustees are virtually powerless but the MPPs must be instilled with the fear of God. They are the ones with the power here.

This article has been taken with the author’s permission from the The Little Education Report, an extraordinarily valuable source on what’s happening in education today The LittleEducationReport


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