Saturday, April 18, 2015

Toronto has a two-tiered education system

The fundraising gap that exists between schools in affluent and poor neighbourhoods in Toronto has many people concerned that we are allowing large disparities to exist in our public education system. But while the disparity in fundraising perennially generates a lot of attention, there are much deeper inequities in our schools that we should be concerned about. Inequities so large that they have produced what is essentially a two-tiered education system.

First, a little perspective on the fundraising issue. On a per-student basis, the gap between the highest and lowest fundraising schools is about $600. While this may seem like a lot, remember that Ontario currently spends about $11,500 per student. And also remember that in Toronto, we allocate additional money to our neediest students through the Model Schools program. So taken together, the gap is not as large as it initially appears. And it certainly is not as large as public schools in other jurisdictions. For example, in Illinois, the funding gap between schools in affluent and poor areas is over $2,600 per student.

But apart from the funding issue, there are many indications that a two-tiered public education system already exists in our city. Certainly, the public seems to think so. It is common practice for many parents to purchase homes in certain neighbourhoods, usually affluent ones, so that their children can attend the “good” schools located in that area. And as reported in the Star back in 2013, many other parents, perhaps those that cannot afford to live in these areas, are so desperate to get their children into these “good” schools that they are willing to lie and cheat. If we had a truly equitable public education system, this would not happen.

The main driver of this problem is segregation. Doug Willms, a professor at the University of New Brunswick, and an expert on this topic, has identified two types of school segregation. The first is “horizontal segregation,” which is the degree to which students from different socio-economic backgrounds are distributed unequally among schools. The second is “vertical segregation,” which is the degree to which students are streamed into particular schools and programs. Both types tend to lower student achievement.  (more...)

So, why are Ontario Liberals beating the homophobia drum? To make disadvantaged kids available to their pedophile posse?

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