Today's letters: An end to school streaming is overdue

End to school streaming is decades overdue

Re: Ontario to ditch high-school streaming, July 7.

I never thought I would live long enough to read this. As an interviewee comments in the article, “abolishing streaming could helplevel the playing field for students of colour and those coming from lower income households.”

Prof. Stewart Crysdale and I confirmed this in a study of 467 youth (mainly white) in their early, middle, and late adolescence in east-downtown Toronto in the 1970s (study title: “Youth’s Passage Through School to Work,” 1994).

We found children of the least educated and poorest-paid were slotted via tracking or streaming in grade eight into basic/general applied programs (technical, commercial or vocational), and rarely into advanced academic programs (and on to college or university).

We concluded, at the end of the study that no amount of capability and commitment on the part of teachers or students can correct the broadly negative effects of tracking or streaming for secondary school.

Will we, really, finally, see the the long-overdue end of streaming in Ontario?

Harry MacKay, Ottawa

What do the students think about it?

Is anyone interested in what the kids have to say, before once again the so-called experts from the top-down screw up their education?

Jim Deacove, Perth

Name changes could go on and on

Changing the name of Russell Township, or even looking for a namesake, because Peter Russell had slaves is not judicious.

Peter Russell died in 1808, but until the Slavery Abolition Act came into force on Aug. 1, 1834, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire, slavery was not only legal but encouraged by London, because English colonies depended on slave labour for economic growth. People who enslaved Black persons included, among others, government and military officials, Loyalists, merchants, bishops, priests and nuns.

In what is now Toronto, the provincial secretary of Upper Canada, William Jarvis, owned six enslaved Black people, and he not only fought to keep his own slaves, but wanted slavery to be legally available to all white men in Upper Canada. His eldest son, Samuel, who gave his name to Jarvis Street in Toronto, settled down to a life of corruption, scandal and financial idiocy and was accused of stealing large sums of money from the government.

Six out of the nine original members of the upper house of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada were also slave owners. There was Peter Russell, but also James Baby, Alexander Grant Sr., Richard Duncan, Richard Cartwright and Robert Hamilton.

James McGill, member of the Assembly of Lower Canada and founder of McGill University, counted six enslaved Black persons as part of his property holdings. He lived around the same time as Peter Russell. If we have to change the name of Russell, will McGill University change too?

And Jarvis Street in Toronto seems much more open to criticism than Russell.

Slavery was disgusting, but to be able to judge past events, we have to place them in context.

Roland Madou, Ottawa

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