Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Problem of Euro- ... er, Asian-Centred Schools?

Some curious wording in the reports today of the official approval of an Afrocentric school in Toronto.

The National Post says:
The school board admits that a "disproportionate" number of black youth are failing in their schools. According to its statistics, 40% do not graduate, compared with about 25% board wide.

But advocates of the Afrocentric proposal say it is the existing "eurocentric" system that is failing black students, and believe that the alternative model being presented is an endeavor worth trying.

Likewise, the Toronto Star:
Twelve of the 20 speakers urged the board to open an alternative Africentric school as a way to fight an estimated 40 per cent dropout rate among Toronto's black students.

Longtime community leader Murphy Browne said she was alarmed at the high number of youth being "pushed out" of school by a European-centred system, who then get "caught up in the school-to-jail pipeline."

Did you catch it? (No! Not the Murphy Browne thing!--though that is weird.) I mean this Eurocentric/European-centred stuff?

Odd, wouldn't you say? No?

Oh, well then perhaps you didn't know that the average of 25% cited in the first article there does not (as it implies) refer just to white(/European) dropouts, but to an average of non-black dropouts in the TDSB. Which, obviously, constitutes a rather broad range of backgrounds. Non-European backgrounds, if my point isn't clear.

Now consider this (found here):
2001-2002 statistical data from the TDSB indicates the percentage of students from specific geograpical locations at risk of not graduating:

- 45% of Western African, Central and South American students at risk
- 39% East African
- 24 % of South Asian
- 23% Eastern European
- 16% Eastern Asian
I'll acknowledge that there's a bit of conflict between these numbers and the "25% board wide" figure given above, but it is hardly significant. What I should like to draw your attention to is this "16% Eastern Asian" dropout figure. Can somebody explain to me how a so-called Eurocentric system can discriminate against those of African descent, but not those of Asian? Indeed, can anyone explain why, apparently, Asians have a better record in a Eurocentric system than do those of European descent?

It seems to me that we have a pretty basic instance of the premises not supporting the conclusion here. By which I mean, it simply does not follow that a Eurocentric curriculum is to blame for the failure of students not from a European background.

But we've gone ahead and approved an Afrocentric school anyway?



Jay Currie (with whom I appear to be sharing a wavelength) dares to speak to the heart of the matter:
This proposal is pretty much the epitome of the soft racism of low expectation.

Now, if the Toronto School Board was actually serious it would take a look at setting up a school which took these children out of their neighbourhood for good long stretches starting as early as possible ... Anything to get these poor children out of the truly awful gang riven, largely fatherless “culture” they have been unlucky enough to have been born into.