For Richer or Poorer: Segregation Within Ontario Public Schools


For the past week or so, there has been an incredible amount of debate over the District School Board of Niagara’s decision to open a school specifically for children from low-income families.  The DSBN Academy is geared for students who will be entering Grades 6 and 7 in September 2011, and each of these children must come from (as previously stated) low-income families in which neither of his/her parents have a college diploma or a university degree.

The aim of the school is to start out with about 150 students enrolled in Grades 6 and 7, adding a grade each year as the students progress, until the first year’s students are in Grade 12, thus combining both primary and secondary age groups. The students will be bussed in at the cost of the Academy. The school aims to attract students from disadvantaged households who may be having difficulties within the current educational system, and are, perhaps, being left behind in the dust.

While the road to DSBN Academy is paved with good intentions, it is difficult to look past the social issues that opening a school such as this may birth. Students from low-income families already feel segregated from most other students, so how would opening a school such as this improve the situation? Will they forever be labelled as children who needed to go to “that” school because of their parents’ economic status instead of their own abilities?

These children from lower income families already face many struggles within the schooling system, and we need not add to the list. Instead of stigmatising the children based on what their parents did or did not accomplish (in regards to post-secondary education), we should, instead, focus upon what these children are able to accomplish themselves with regard to their college or university careers. Perhaps the money that is to be poured into the DSBN Academy may instead be filtered into the schools already in existence, utilising tutors, mentors, and academic pursuit programmes to build excitement and confidence within each child.


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