Change and Community: a response to recent comments

I am finally back online at home and am able to respond to some recent comments to my post:

Black-focused public school in Toronto by 2009…What do you think?

The response became so long that I’ve decided it merits a post of its own. If you want to know what I am talking about when I address specific people, go take a look at the comments to the original post, linked above.

Here we go…
@ Jose – help me to understand…why Yikes?

@ Marc – better special ed programs, eh? That doesn’t sit easy with me at all.

I’d agree with you if you said better programs in general. One of the issues I have with much of our education system is the segregation that goes on within it under the guise of special ed classes. Instead of recognizing differences in learning amongst different populations, those who learn differently are placed into special programs – a prime example of teaching subject matter and not students.

I’d like to think that if we look at changing how we teach in general, to recognize difference and see how we can harness it to achieve common goals, then things would make much more sense than creating more special ed classes.
(see this conversation re: in-school segregation)

@ Elona – interesting comment. Would they be windows? Let’s look at the present situation in Montreal. The dropout rate for black students in Montreal is even higher than in Toronto. Recent numbers show it at 49%, I believe Toronto’s is very close, at 40%. What do we see through that window?

I would like to think that by creating schools that represent communities and answer to their needs we may at the same time create a society that does the same.

@ Chris – I agree in theory, though I’m not so certain that reality reflects the theory. For instance, you write about the fact of plurality in Canada. Our population is certainly composed of many different kinds of people who have many different kinds of beliefs, but do our social systems (like schools ) address needs in a pluralistic way? No.

The more I write about this topic, the more I realize that I am more in favour of it than not. No question – our school system (both American and Canadian) needs radical change. In order for change, real change, to take place it needs to reflect the real needs and concerns of the people who will be directly affected by it.

Creating schools that respond to community needs – in this case the need to motivate learning in a particular community that has long been marginalized and disregarded – is a step toward real change.

My dream – to see all schools a reflection of the communities they are in, with a goal of strengthening  community through education.