There are two publicly-funded education systems in the province of Ontario, Canada. (Well OK, there are four, if you count the French-language counterparts to the two main systems, which are anglophone -- English-speaking.) There are Catholic schools, which are not quite what the name implies, since, being taxpayer-funded, they are required to admit all comers, Catholic or not. And there are "public" schools, which are supposed to be non-religious, but in practice push the new, politically correct religion of secular humanism.
The biggest public school board in Ontario -- in Canada, in fact -- is the Toronto District School Board, which is responsible for Pauline Johnson Junior Public School, in Scarberia, the northeastern ghetto of the Great and Diverse City of Toronto (John Tory, Prop.) That the school is this month celebrating "Tamil Heritage Month" tells you something about the character of the community, and the politics of the TDSB.
Pauline Johnson School is attended by students from literally dozens of different ethnic backgrounds. The majority are not "old stock Canadians", to borrow the appellation of former Prime Minister Steven Harpoon. There is not only a great mixing of races, but a great mixing of religions -- the diversity which Mayor Tory, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Justin "Mr Socks" Trudeau keep telling people makes Canada Strong. (Agent 3 says diversity certainly makes Toronto what it is. Whatever can he mean?) There are a few Christians, some Buddhists, some Hindus, some Sikhs and, inevitably, some Muslims.
One of the Muslim students is Khawlah Noman, who for the rest of her life is likely to be known as the "hijab hoax girl", following the unravelling yesterday of her story about having been attacked by a man who pulled back the hood of her parka, so as to cut (with a scissors!) her hijab -- an Islamophobic, anti-Muslim hate crime if ever there was one! Except there wasn't one. It was all a product of Miss Noman's vivid imagination.
OK, so the kid made the whole thing up. Some kind of plea for help, perhaps. Let it go at that. But the Toronto District School Board did not let it go at that. Today, questions are being asked about why, less than four hours after the initial police report, the TDSB organized a presser -- "press availability" is what they call it nowadays -- to let the tearful 11-year-old face television cameras and throngs of reporters who broadcast her horrific (and unlikely) story to the world?
In the photo we see Miss Noman, her mother, and her 10-year-old brother, who supposedly witnessed the attack. The concerned and caring lady comforting the girl is (((Shari Schwartz-Maltz))), TDSB Manager for Media Relations and Issues Management, who (a source tells WWW) set up the exercise in virtue-signalling. Even if the attack had happened, the appearance would have been unusual, as victims of crime who are minors are traditionally not identified by police or the media, let alone put before cameras to recite a rehearsed narrative and weep on cue.
(((Ms Schwartz-Maltz))) is no stranger to the pages of WWW. She is referred to in "Muslim prayers in Toronto schools: a Muslim viewpoint", WWW 7/7/11, defending a decision of the TDSB to set aside prayer rooms in its schools so the little Muslim kids can say their Friday prayers, while being taught about Islam and the virtues of Islamic society. This was before ISIS, so rumours that ISIS recruiting literature was passed out were likely untrue. It would have been Al-Qaeda, not ISIS.
That the Toronto District School Board is friendly to the so-called Religion of Peace is an undertatement. But hey, that's nothing more than compliance with the policy of the Ontario government (K. Wynne, Prop.) See "Islamization of Ontario schools still part of government agenda", WWW 15/4/12.
But it's not just Muslims that the TDSB likes. They're great believers in affirmative action, human rights (for some humans, at least), social justice and BLM. In a show of politically correctness, surprising even for Ontario, the Board decided, back in 2009, to set up an "Africentric Alternative School" (read: segregated school). It opened in the northwest corner of Toronto "in an attempt to reduce dropout rates and improve an achievement gap among the city's black students. While the school is open to students of all backgrounds, many [note: "many", not "all"] of the teachers are black to serve as role models for students."
The Africentric School was to be a three-year experiment. (((Ms Schwartz-Maltz))) appears again in an article in the Toronto Red Star (from which the above quote was taken) to spin the 2012 report on the results -- three years after the report was published, kinda quietly. The report found that in 2012, only 43% of students who started at the AAS and had not reached graduate age were still enrolled, while 57% had transferred to another school.
The report also identified "differences" between the original idea of the school "and the existing frameworks the school operates within," as well as funding challenges that are a "limiting factor to the school's success." (((Ms Schwartz-Maltz))) called it "a work in progress". Walt has been unable to discover whether any further progress has been made in the 2+ years since, or, indeed, whether the Africentric School is still in existence.
Speaking of affirmative action... a name that has been conveniently forgotten by proponents of the TDSB's liberal agenda is that of Chris Spence, who was the Director of the Toronto District School Board at the time of the Africentric School experiment. Dr Spence, as he then was, should have been a role model extraordinaire for the city's black yoof, being head of the biggest school board in Canada and a credit his race, yada yada yada. Unfortunately, he was obliged to resign, at the end of 2012, over allegations that his Ph.D. thesis was rife with "unattributed passages", plagiarized (copied) from other sources. When last heard from, Mr Spence was fighting for compensation for "constructive dismissal". He has not complained to the Ontario Human Rights Commission about systemic racism.
Speaking of race and black yoof, the latest politically correct folly of the TDSB is the cancellation, last November, of the "School Resource Officer" programme run for it by the Toronto Police Service. The programme placed uniformed police officers in dozens of mainly minority-majority public schools across Toronto. While SRO is SOP in many inner city schools in the USA, it was a first for Canada when introduced in 2008, a year after Grade 9 student Jordan Manners, age 15, was shot and killed at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate, one of Toronto's blackest schools.
Ever since, the SRO programme has drawn sharp criticism from activist groups such as Black Lives Matter Toronto, which made very vocal demands to scrap it as one measure to address "anti-black racism" in the education system. The Board trustees voted 18-3 in favour of cancelling the programme, after a report by staff recommended eliminating the program because "it caused some students to feel uncomfortable and even intimidated." That was in November. Last week the neighbouring Peel District School Board received a report showing that students benefit from the SRO programme in its schools. Go figure.
Every now and then militant secular humanists and anti-Catholic bigots call for the end of public funding for Ontario's Roman Catholic schools. As long as policies like those of the Toronto District School Board -- we haven't even talked about the new pro-LGBT sex ed curriculum yet -- are causing parents by the 1000s to enroll their non-Catholic children in the Catholic system, Catholic schools are in no danger of being defunded. There should be a lesson there for the public school boards, but will they learn it? Two chances: slim and none.