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School for Low-Income Kids: Opening a Door or ‘Educational Apartheid’?

School for Low-Income Kids: Opening a Door or ‘Educational Apartheid’?

The District School Board of Niagara in Ontario, Canada has announced that it is opening a new school next September that is exclusively for low-income students. According to the Ottawa Citizen, the school will initially offer just grades 6 and 7 and spaces will be offered to students whose parents have not attended college or university and who are currently living under the poverty line. The school hopes to expand each year, until it eventually offers grades 6 through 12.

Champions of this school point to it as a way to break the cycle of poverty. They claim that the current school system is not meeting the needs of these students and that having them concentrated in one school will make it easier to ensure they get the support and programs that they need to succeed. The school is expected to offer programs such as mentoring, college and university preparation and free meals. Parents in the area appear to be happy with these plans and there is already a waiting list to enroll students for next fall.

However, not everyone is excited about this idea. A local New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Provincial Parliament, Peter Kormos, wrote an open letter criticizing the plans. According to Niagara This Week, Kormos says the proposal “suggests ‘poor’ children should be kept with their own kind,” creating a form of “educational apartheid.”

Kormos’ objection to the school is similar to the objections made by some people in Toronto to the opening of a black-focused school to help fight the 40 percent dropout rate among Toronto’s black teens several years ago. While some parents and experts strongly supported the school as a key measure to address issues facing black youth in Toronto, others worried about the perception and effects of segregation in the public school system.

Are specialized schools for target populations a good way to address problems? Or will segregation create additional problems and exacerbate the marginalization of oppressed groups?

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Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.

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Photo credit: wwworks on flickr

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57 comments

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3:13AM PST on Feb 13, 2011

Poor schools will attract poor teachers. You can't run a quality school on staff & administration who don't care.

5:52PM PST on Feb 12, 2011

Hi All! http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/help-end-minus-grading-affecting-gpa/

7:47PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

TY

12:35PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Continued from below-
A group of teachers and I were out eating and they all admitted having a hard time understanding kids socially due to their always being in the books during high school. I was floored. I know that a lot of teachers enjoy learning and teaching, this is what makes them so valuable to our kids. Why take teachers and seperate them from being able to teach and learn from all sorts of kids as well???

12:28PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Money doesn't mean your smart. Being poor doesn't mean your smart either. I know that EDUCATION is the new housing industry. The debts that people are going to incur will eventually cripple a lot of people who can't afford a good education, but went for BUST anyway. I am OLD SCHOOL. With the interent it makes it real easy to learn more than you'd expect alone. Anyone ever hear of an AUTODIDACT? It is a self-taught person. Sometimes seperating people by income in the arena of the mind is dangerous. Personally, I thought the whole premise behind a public education was to be equal, but then the world is changing and it seems entitlement is on the rise. Which is an ill concept to begin with. There are both kids with and without money that are bright, as well as both income brackets that aren't too bright as well. Dividing kids up by what their parents earn isn't sending a good message about college.People are proud of their education, if they earned it. Which says a lot. If you buy it and have it easier because you have money, then really you didn't work as hard... I would think. So then, it would be much wiser to hire a person who came from a harder education system that thrived then a rich kid that came from a easier more advanced school due to work ethic. Since people who have been to college are the ones who come up with these social experiments when most really intelligent people have never had much of a real social life to begin with. That isn't from my mouth, it was told t

11:40AM PST on Feb 7, 2011

When I went to school I was from a low income family and I did feel seperate from the students that were from better off families.There was always the 'you can't afford it' stigma.I would have prefered to be in a school with other students who were in the same situation then there would be no bullying based upon your families income.

8:52AM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Kids from low income families should not be separated from other children, that is discrimination! These kids should get these benefits in the regular school without anyone knowing they are from low income families. The parents should get subsidies from the board of education to pay for the extra support their children may need. Every child deserves to have access to a good education and not be labeled. There should also be a privacy policy so no one knows who these families are. Schools in Ont. have never been segregated. Lets not move backwards.

4:41AM PST on Feb 7, 2011

at first glance, it sounds discriminatory, but if students aren't required to go there & are going there by choice, i suppose it's worth a shot. it could turn out to be a great idea, but they'll never know unless they try it. however, the school system should continue to look for ways to meet the needs of these students in all schools. perhaps this school will help them find ways to do that.

10:07PM PST on Feb 6, 2011

I personally think those who are at a "political disadvantage" should be given some sort of discount or financial advantage at the normal schools instead of going all the way of making a new one.

8:31PM PST on Feb 6, 2011

Whatever is found to work.

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