By Admin Wednesday January 23 2013 in Opinion
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Statement from African Heritage Educators Network (AHEN)



African Heritage Educators Network (AHEN), a professional education organization that collectively represents students, educators and parents of African Heritage, would like to sincerely thank Dr. Chris Spence for his many contributions to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the wider educational community. AHEN does not condone plagiarizing, however, we acknowledge and respect Dr. Spence’s clear and unreserved apology for his actions.


During Dr. Spence’s tenure as Director of Education of the TDSB, he and his leadership team made a significant and positive impact on the education of all of the young people entrusted to the TDSB. His strong advocacy for social change reached our racialized and marginalized youth and inspired various communities to believe that there are no unsurpassable barriers.


Under Dr. Spence’s leadership:


• The TDSB developed and implemented a clear strategy to address the needs of the disadvantaged within the school system. The Opportunity Gap Action Plan was implemented as a vehicle for addressing issues of persistent academic and social difficulties faced by specific racialized groups of students within the TDSB. Dr. Spence challenged all educators to raise the bar starting with the lowest achieving group, Black boys.


• Race-based data was gathered and shared effectively to communicate demographic information related to all aspects of the TDSB organization. As a result, all educators were expected to become culturally responsive and able to deliver innovative and inclusive curriculum and make it relevant to the children of the 21st century. This data was also made accessible to community groups.


• Nutrition programs were continued and various partnerships formed to ensure that no child would have to learn on an empty stomach.


• Summer mentorship programs were instituted to provide much needed skill development and provide opportunities to enable disadvantaged students to gain employment.


• The Africentric Alternative School (Grades JK -07) has been expanded and now there is an Africentric program at the secondary level. In addition, the Boys to Men mentoring program was implemented board-wide and the Young Women on the Move was formed as a complementary program for girls and young women.


Although we have outlined some of the many professional accomplishments of Director Spence during his time as our leader, he did much for us on a personal level. Dr. Spence encouraged us to be inquisitive and to seek out answers. He met actively with diverse communities and he did so within community settings. He reached out to us and he made himself available. Dr. Spence gave us a voice.


It is our expectation that this profoundly important work will be continued and that ample and effective remedies will be applied to the identified underperforming groups within the TDSB, particularly students of African Descent.


  • Ti said:

    Spence’s actions have put all of us into a difficult conundrum and I commend you for offering a response that is highly thoughtful and dignified. However, Spence’s plagiarism is extensive and, by using others’ autobiographical writing and speeches as his own, it verges on pathological. While it is nice that some of us may approve of how Spence got us from point A to point B, the fact of the matter is the man driving the bus all these years didn’t have a license. That commission of fraud does negate his achievements and may also help explain his many costly failings, which you do not highlight here.

    Thursday January 24 at 10:59 am
  • Sterling said:

    The fact is that you couldn’t pick Chris Spence out a party of educational leaders in the public, independent or private sphere. He has a lot of company when it comes to plagiarizing in his academic work, news articles or blog pieces. Cut and past, everybody does it ,or so I am told. His colleagues who have held on to their jobs do do so through the grace of those of us who choose not to expose them. May they forever love with that over their collective head. Be that as it may, Spence did do a lot of good and it would be shame to forget that amidst the hullabaloo over his plagiarism.

    Word Slinger

    Monday February 04 at 1:58 pm

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