Too many white kids are going to arts-focused schools … Really?

There are too many white kids going to Toronto’s publicly funded arts schools. That is the preliminary angle the Toronto Star ran with when it published this story on April 24, after receiving a copy of a soon to be published academic article produced by an associate professor at the Ontario Institute for Secondary Education.

What is the problem? The study points out that back in 2011-12 ( yes five years ago) that 67% of the students entering grade 9 in Toronto’s four arts-focused high schools “identified” as being white, that their parents were more likely to have a university education and to be better off financially.

Remember this is the paper famous for some years ago calling out the Toronto Blue Jays for having too many white men involved in the team, only to have an embarrassing story run by a competitor paper pointing out that the Toronto Star was overwhelming run and managed by white men at that time. The Toronto’s paper’s strange race fetish can lead to thin journalism and a distortion of the facts, while also promoting ridiculous stereotypes.

In this particular story on Toronto arts-focused schools, the apparent solution based on a quote from the author of the report is to admit more grade nine students that aspire to be hip-hop artists (aka rappers), spoken word artists or graffiti artists.” You get the picture The Star is painting here?

The not so subtle message in this story is that non-white students have less educated, poorer families that produce kids that want to be rappers and spray paint public buildings with graffiti (activity often associated with gang tags). And yet, the evidence is rather clear that most immigrants to Canada are better educated than those born here, are professionals and entrepreneurial, setting up their own businesses in many instances and creating employment.

Toronto arts-focused schools need not take this report out of OISE seriously, unless they want to perpetuate The Star’s stereotypes of minorities. The fact is that in many source countries for new Canadians, arts is a one-way ticket to a difficult life filled with economic uncertainty. Such is not a life many new Canadians would wish on their children, having already endured the challenges that migration alone creates and overcome barriers to education and economic prosperity themselves.

The racial torquing that the Toronto Star imposes on this story does no service to new Canadians who are minorities, nor does it speak well of the journalism being produced in that shop. Sadly, it speaks to The Star’s penchant for stereotyping minorities as constant victims in an attempt to appear “progressive.”

But this is not progressive. It is, to put it another way, “click bait” that does a disservice to Canadian minorities by painting over their own desires and experiences for their children with a white brush.

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