National Post, McGuinty ‘hypocritical’ on separate schools: Tory
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory today called on Premier Dalton McGuinty to explain why he was so opposed to faith-based schools during the provincial election yet seems ready to stand by as the Toronto District School Board moves toward race-based schooling.
Mr. McGuinty has stated that while he does not favour the idea of Africentric schools, he would allow it if Toronto trustees decided to pursue the matter.
It's one thing for the province to mandate there needs to be specific schools, as John Tory was campaigning to do with faith-based education. He was maintaining that the province should include funding particularly for faith-based schools.
It's another thing entirely if the school board mandates a particular strategy for the way to teach the provincially-mandated curriculum within its community - in this case, responding to an alarming drop out rate amongst black teens. The school board, I believe, is not going to receive any extra funding outside of what it's normally allotted for providing schooling to the kids of Toronto.
In that way, I do not think Mr. McGuinty is being hypocritical in opposing provincially-mandated funding for more separate schools and not opposing an education strategy proposed by a school board within the existing funding strategy.
I think, however, it's fair to debate the merits of such an initiative and if the trustees do not represent the will of the people of the city, they'll find themselves running against trustees who will rethink the program. I've heard arguments in favour, and I've heard arguments opposed - the ones opposed are similar to the ones made during the faith-based funding debate.
That said, having a specific "culture-centric" school in Toronto is not new. If you were not aware, the First Nations School of Toronto provides Aboriginal-based education within the public system:
First Nations School of Toronto is unique in that Aboriginal values, spirituality, culture and Ojibway language are integrated into the school curriculum. The goal is to ensure that urban Aboriginal children will have the opportunity to learn about their heritage and the traditional Anishinabe cultural perspective while acquiring the skills necessary to survive in today's world.
Our focus is to offer the Ontario Curriculum with an 'overlay' of Native language, tradition and culture, that meets the requirements set by the School Council, the Toronto District School Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education.
I would expect these new schools to be set up similarly.