Monday, August 20, 2012

TDSB's Nepotistic Solution for Troubled "Africentric" School--Make School Board Chair Chris Spence's Sis the New Principal

From the Toronto Star (h/t SK):
The Toronto District School Board has named veteran inner-city educator Jacqueline Spence, sister of director of education Chris Spence, as the new principal of its Africentric Alternative Elementary School.

Jacqueline Spence will take the reins of a school that was controversial even before it opened three years ago. While enrolment has climbed and test scores are strong, parent discord plagued founding principal Thando Hyman, who left in June for another school, at her own request.

The new leader will need “the hide of an elephant and the sensitivity of a tightrope walker to balance all the disparate views about the school,” noted Trustee Howard Kaplan.

But Jacqueline Spence said that, despite the delicate politics of the job, “When I was asked to consider the position I saw it as just a wonderful opportunity to work with students whose needs aren’t being met — and parent engagement is one of my strengths, so I look forward to working collaboratively.”

Spence was principal at two Jane-Finch public elementary schools, Gosford and Shoreham, before leaving to become director of the Urban Diversity Program at York University’s teachers’ college for three years. She returned last fall to the TDSB as central coordinating principal of equity and inclusive schools, where she has helped develop curriculum for a proposed Africentric high school program planned for this fall at Winston Churchill Collegiate.

The 45-year-old mother of two, who lives in York Region, added: “I really do have a passion for equity, and I’m looking forward to going back to daily interaction with students and putting those equity policies to daily use.”

While Kaplan praised Jacqueline Spence’s academic chops, he said he asked her during the job interview about her connection to the director, whom she called her “big brother.” But Kaplan said, “There’s no favoritism at all in any of this process; the director doesn’t have a say in individual transfers and appointments.” Principals are selected by the local trustee, superintendent and members of the school’s parent council. Chris Spence told the Star he was not involved in her appointment... 
Director of York's Urban Diversity Program? A passion for equity? Chris Spence's little sis? In the Toronto School system, that's what you might call a perfect "get".

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