Trustees vote yes

<p>The black-focused school is a go. After a heated, but civil, debate, Canada’s largest school board voted 11-9 last night to open an alternative Africentric school to help fight a 40 per cent dropout rate among Toronto’s black teens.</p>

 

Toronto board votes 11-9 to go ahead with Africentric school


 

 

Tara Walton/Torstar News Service

 

Loreen Small, mother of Jordan Manners, who was shot and killed at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate last year, is consoled by Elizabeth Buchanan, right, and Carol Chery last night after Small spoke at the Toronto District School Board meeting about a planned Africentric school.




«I’m ecstatic, but the struggle continues and we want this school to open in 2008, not 2009.»





The black-focused school is a go.



After a heated, but civil, debate, Canada’s largest school board voted 11-9 last night to open an alternative Africentric school to help fight a 40 per cent dropout rate among Toronto’s black teens.



An elated parent, Donna Harrow, said she is thrilled the proposal she and fellow parent Angela Wilson had pushed for got through, despite fierce opposition and cries of segregation.



"I’m ecstatic, but the struggle continues and we want this school to open in 2008, not 2009," said Harrow.



Trustees voted on a sweeping package of programs to make schools more relevant to black students, including opening an Africentric school in September 2009.



Trustee Josh Matlow, who opposed the pilot project school, warned there is no guaranteed funding from Queen’s Park yet for even the estimated startup costs of $350,000. The entire package of initiatives carries an estimated price tag of $820,000.



With the passion and power that issues of race ignite, fans and foes of black-focused schools made their case at the Toronto District School Board last night before a crowd of about 100.



To the mother of Jordan Manners, "this black school thing — no, it ain’t right."



"Don’t propose it — Martin Luther King thought we could sit at the front of the bus together," pleaded Loreen Small.



"My son died at C.W. Jefferys in 2007. If we can all just come together and be as one," said an emotional Small, who broke down in tears in the hall after her presentation.



"If black kids need to graduate, let’s get teachers in there and learn how to interact with black kids," she said.



Twelve of the 20 speakers urged the board to open an alternative Africentric school.



 
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