Are Black Students Being "Pushed Out" of Public Schools?

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Indiana Jones
Are Black Students Being "Pushed Out" of Public Schools?


Indiana Jones

I've been reading the various threads on the black-focused schools issue and Afrocentric education in general and a theme that came up repeatedly was the idea that black students are being "pushed out" of public schools.

And the truth is that I'm having a little trouble understanding what this means, since I'm a white guy who doesn't have that personal experience and who attended a school (outside of Toronto) that, while very ethnically diverse, had only a handful of black students, none of whom seemed to experience any major problems, at least from my vantage point.

So I'm curious to hear from others (particularly those with personal experience in the area) what factors contribute to this sense of being "pushed out". Is it simply a curriculum that pays little attention to their history and culture? Because the same could be said of numerous other groups, but those groups do not have the same alarming drop-out rates. Or is there a strong sense that teachers, principals, etc. are contributing to this by exhibiting racist behaviour? If anyone ahs any insights to share, that would be great as I've found the discussion so far on this issue to be very interesting and am still not sure exactly where i stand.


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]Jane Eliot "brown Eyes Blue Eyes- part 1 of 12"[/URL]

Maysie Maysie's picture

Hi Indiana Jones. I want to answer you because I've used that phrase at least twice on babble. It's something I picked up from a fellow activist who is only slightly older than high school age, who works with young men of all ethnicities through the medium of rap and poetry and spoken word to express themselves. His name is SPIN and he wouldn't mind me mentioning him here. He's a spoken word artist and rapper and poet and if you ever get a chance to hear him, go. He is amazing.

The use of that phrase is to take away the notion that this is a choice these young men are doing. That there are systemic reasons that have not been addressed in real and substantial ways by the public school system. Yes, there are individual teachers, principals and school administrators who are doing amazing work, but this is not enough.

Yes it's about culture and lack of representation, but it's also about blatant racism. Unaddressed violence against black students, racism in the classroom from other students, teachers who are not skilled to address and challenge racism in the classroom, racism from teachers, both passive and overt, assumptions, such as streaming, which isn't supposed to happen anymore but still does. (This is when Black and other marginalized students are streamed into the "tech" and "vocational" schools regardless of ability and skill level. When Black students are actively discouraged from applying to university, and from taking university "prep" courses.)

I know many teachers in the TDSB, I know Black parents who struggle with these issues with their children, I know people who used to work in the Equity Department of the TDSB.

The "Zero tolerance" policy, also known as the "three strikes you're out" policy has been applied overwhelmingly against black students. And once you're kicked out of one school, finding a new school, catching up, connecting in a new school, all become barriers to success.

Within such a context, "drop out" is a misnomer. I hope this helps explain why I used that term.

Indiana Jones

Thanks you both bigcitygal and afro healer for your responses. Those were quite helpful.