A year after the Toronto District School Board agreed to open a unique First Nations school from kindergarten through Grade 12 at Eastern Commerce Collegiate, worried parents say building has not started, funding has not been found, and it’s unclear it will be built on that site at all.
Yet part of the delay comes from the surprise discovery that the stately 1925 building looks to many like a dreaded residential school — and would need a $40 million redo, inside and out, to become a respectful, welcoming hub of indigenous learning.
As a result, the board has decided to see whether it makes better sense financially to simply build a new school designed from the start for indigenous learning, said Director of Education John Malloy. The community has suggested that would include space for drumming and smudge ceremonies, green space for nature study and circular spaces for learning.
And why, you may ask, is "indigenized" learning so crucial? According to the co-chair of the parent council at the existing First Nations School of Toronto, which is "spread over three floors" of a public school, it's because "after Grade 8, indigenous students aren’t getting what they need so they end up dropping out."“I’m sure it’s hard not to become impatient, but we value the community’s vision of an ‘indigenized’ learning environment, and we’re trying to figure out the best way to get there together,” Malloy said in an interview Tuesday. “No delay has been intended.”...
You mean to say that it's the absence of drumming and smudge ceremonies and the rest that's impeding their academic success? Mightn't it also have something to do with cultural priorities (the same reason why, say, Portuguese kids are more likely to drop out)?
Not that I have anything against "indigenized" learning per se. It just that I suspect that "educational apartheid" may not be the best way to curb drop out rates among cultures that tend to not prioritize academic achievement.