It's a blunt, tell-it-like-it-is description of the sad plight of Toronto's inner-city schools, and how teachers are hamstrung to do much to improve the situation. They end up becoming babysitters rather than educators.
The main culprit seems to be an attitude of political correctness enforced by the Ontario Human Rights Commission:
..A few years ago, Toronto's school board was hauled before the Ontario Human Rights Commission for discriminating against minorities. Black activists and parents complained that the schools were handing out too many suspensions and expulsion orders. The rights commission agreed, and called for "alternative" approaches to discipline problems such as detentions and "peer mediation." Since then, the pressure to relax discipline has been intense, and the number of suspensions and expulsions has fallen dramatically. School trustee Gerri Gershon cites these figures as proof that the schools are making "progress." In fact, all they prove is the school administrators' desire to stay out of hot water, at whatever cost...
This reminds me of a recent study that found an over-representation of natives in prisons, etc. So is this all the result of racism or is it instead an inconvenient reality, which has more to do with culture and the results of voluntary apartheid-ism? (And yet it continues.)
...People on the front lines describe a fundamental disconnect between the politicians, the education bureaucrats, and many school trustees on one side, and the reality faced by the teachers on the other. The first group sees Jordan's killers and other youths with knives and guns as essentially innocent young people - "children, really," as Ms. Gershon so guilelessly puts it. The teachers see hardened thugs...
Apparently, one of those "children" that has been arrested for Jordan Manner's murder is a father. And so the cycle continues.
...The one thing the schools are not allowed to do is kick out the thugs. Instead, they wind up for a while in diversion programs, where they are babysat until they're recycled to a regular class. Ideally, of course, we'd have intensive behaviour programs to try to turn them around. So far, however, no school system in the world has been able to cough up the money and resources to do this...
Meantime, our well-meaning education-promoting Premier is about to make a sorry situation worse. He has decreed that from now on we will force students to stay in the system until they're 18, whether they like it or not. Instead of teaching the teachable, administrators will now be forced to spend countless hours attempting to track the whereabouts of sub-adults who can't be taught and have no desire to learn...
As I've stated before, I don't think there is one simple solution to this problem of violence in schools, and any politician who states anything to the contrary is not to be trusted.
Simply playing ostrich and pretending that certain problems don't exist is not going to make them go away. The actions of politicians who use tragedies like Jordan's murder to push a political agenda are particularly heinous.
We are again talking about the logical consequences of an attitude of willful blindness, and it is costing us dearly.
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Monday Update: ...And What is Happening in the Classroom?
Excellent insight at the Star - A Tale of Two Public Schools. Check out the video on the main page as well.