Who will be the new Africentric School principal?

By Arnold Auguste Wednesday June 20 2012 in Opinion
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By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher/Senior Editor

I wrote last week that the principal of the Africentric Alternative School has been ‘re-assigned’. Now I have learned that the Toronto District School Board might have already chosen her replacement.

 

There are still doubts about why Thando Hyman-Aman is leaving the school. One concerned caller suggested that there is no way she would have left on her own “before the graduation of her first students” next year.

 

I am not in the education field so I don’t know how these things work. But that makes sense, doesn’t it?

 

Take me, for instance. I just couldn’t see myself not being on hand every week to see Share off to the printers. And this is after 34 years and almost 2,000 press runs. Thinking about that comment, I could just imagine how she must feel.

 

Then there were those who felt that if she was so unhappy at the school, moving her might be the best thing for her. As some put it, “fighting for her to stay or urging the board to reconsider might not be in her best interest or what she wants”. And I can only imagine by that they mean that it would be unfair to her to want her to stay considering the pressure she was under.

 

So, we turn our attention now to who her replacement would be.

 

Most likely, the new principal would be someone Black since it would be unthinkable that the principal of an Africentric school would not be someone of African heritage. But, as I wrote last week, when Hyman-Aman was suspended last year for a month or so, the TDSB replaced her with a White male. So, with this bunch, who knows? And the fact that the director of education is a Black man and the superintendent responsible for that school is also a Black man, didn’t seem to matter then, so why should it matter now?

 

I have known White teachers, both male and female, who were amazing with Black students. I am sure we all have. And I have also heard of Black teachers who were horrible where Black students were concerned. In fact, one caller told me that there were some Black teachers who, if he had kids, would never let them near his children.

 

This is not an indictment of White teachers. But it would be unthinkable that a straight male would be named to head a school for gay students; that a man would be principal of a girls’ school; that a non-Jewish person would be placed at the head of a Jewish school. It is not that they may not be qualified, but the optics, at the very least, would be wrong.

 

So, we would expect the board to be very careful with whom they choose to take charge of that school. The temptation might be to find someone who can get along with the small group of people who have been referred to by some as ‘dissidents’ (or worse, by others) who have been a thorn in Hyman-Aman’s side. These people apparently did not like the way the school was being run and, from the accounts I have heard, have fought her from the very beginning. I also understand that they might have had someone else in mind for the job of principal. Also, it has been said that they didn’t think the school focused enough on African or ‘Africentric’ principles, or something like that.

 

Will appointing a principal who would be able to get along with (or appease) this group be in the best interest of the school? Some parents have already indicated that, depending on who the new principal is, they might remove their children from the school.

 

Actually, that might very well be what the TDSB wants. The board is currently struggling with having to cut millions of dollars from its budget. They are looking at cutting teachers, education assistants, cafeteria staff, and even some cafeterias themselves, caretaker and lunchroom staff and possibly closing some schools.

 

Since this school has done so well (under the leadership of Hyman-Aman) it would be a bit of a challenge to justify closing it, but if a principal was brought in who was not able to maintain the standards she set; if it was someone who didn’t care or wasn’t as capable and the standards fell, the board could consider itself justified in closing it sometime down the road.

 

I mentioned the Caribana experience last week. The only reason that we still have something that resembles the original Caribana is because of the some $400-million the festival is said to bring in to the local economy each year. Were it not for that money, it would have been killed off long ago. What, do you think the folks down at City Hall really care about Black and Caribbean people jumping up, playing mas and having a good time?

 

It is the money. When the councillor who is responsible for Caribana withdrew the funding for the then Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC) and set up his own committee of Black folks to run the festival, all he had in mind was the hundreds of millions of dollars the city would lose if the festival was discontinued.

 

Unfortunately, the Africentric Alternative School has no such bounty to offer, except that those children who are helped by it could (and would) one day be valuable contributing members of society.

 

That might be enough of a reason for us to fight for it, but not for members of the board, some of whom have fought against this type of school for more than 40 years.

 

We need to watch very carefully to see who the TDSB appoints as the new principal. That will tell us if they want this school to succeed or if they just want to kill it.

 

 

  • Paulet Biedermann said:

    Dear Thando,

    Congratulations on your extraordinary accomplishment as the leader of the first Africentric school in Canada. You have done an outstanding job as refelected in the students’ accomplishments when stocked against mainstream’s measuring stick .You will go down in history as not only one of our brightest minds, but a woman of moral courage, integrity, character, superior values, sound morals and unparalled resilience. With all the betrayals, the back stabbing, the envy and sabotage, you lead the school with poise, confidence, grace and most importantly integrity. Despite the ever looming threat of betrayal from our own brothers and sisters, your laser beam focus remained intact. You upheld and in some cases surpassed your key commitments:
    • Commitment to the pursuit of excellence in all endeavors:
    • Commitment to an inclusive and equitable school environment:
    • Commitment to a respectful, caring and compassionate school environment;
    • Commitment to the positive development of self-identity, self-knowledge and self-esteem;
    Commitment to maintaining a school culture of high expectations for all;
    • Commitment to leadership development for all. and to supporting innovative educational practices;
    • Commitment to self-reflection, evaluation and continuous improvement;
    • Commitment to cohesive school and community partnerships.
    In fact, I believe you have surpassed your own high standards and expectations outlined above. You lead by example and by so doing; you have instilled pride, healthy self esteem, confidence, self respect and autonomy in our future leaders. What you have accomplished in three short years, most people have not even dreamt of, let alone accomplished in a life time. Your success and that of the students of Canada’s first Africentric School, is documented and available for all eyes to see and all ears to hear about. The students have excelled academically and outperformed their mainstream counterparts provincially and nationally. This evidence clearly validates the need for this kind of learning environment for our children.
    This is especially crucial considering, the dropout rate among black youths is a disturbing reality with close to 40 per cent of black students weren’t graduating from high school, and shockingly, very little was being done about it prior to now. The most frightening revelation is that a lot of the parents, if not most of the parents did not advocate effectly to change this race oppressive and stagnating reality. Yet, they did not hesitate to plot against you from the school’s inception. We need to bear in mind that as a people, sometimes we tend to be so caught up in our own needs, that the needs and welbeing of our future leaders are secondary to our own.
    This near sightedness and lack of vision by our own people are the true destructive forces that threaten the core of our existence. As Marcus Garvey said, a people without self knowledge and knowledge of their history, is like a tree without a root. Look at these poor souls who sabotaged you Thando! Do they not realize that its themselves, their kids and our future they are sabotaging? Clearly, these self haters, self betrayers and race destroyers appear to lack not only moral courage, but vision, integrity and authenticity. This is extremely frightening, especially considering the Africentric school’s inception was based on the fact that there was a 40% drop out rate for our kids attending mainstream schools, amongst other factors. Sadly, it almost appears as if we are so morally, emotionally, socially, spiritually and mentally bankrupt that we are unable to notice the co-relation between betraying and sabotaging you and the destruction and blighted prospect of our own future. Yes, some of us rallied around you at the 11th hour and attempted to support you, by then, it was too little, too late, the horse already went through the gate. It’s almost like trying to stop or prevent someone from becoming a drug addict when he/she is already a full blown addict.The damage had already been done. The physical scar may heal, albeit the emotional scar will stay with you for a life time.
    As the great leader martin Luther King so eloquently stated, “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemy, but the silence of our friends”quite frankly, we have all betrayed you, sabotaged you and in so doing compromise the welfare of our kids. With so much racism, classism, black on black crime, drugs related crimes, pimping of our youths, turning our youths into drug dealers and mules, amongst other issues, its incomprehensible that sabotaging you by implementing the bag-a-wire-curse,(bag a wire was Marcus Garvey’s driver who sold him out and betrayed him) was the most important item on our to do list? What does this say about us as a people? One assumption is logical, and that is, mainstream is laughing at us as they don’t have to lift a finger in our destruction as we are very competent and experienced in achieving that all on our own. That said, Judas, Bag- a wire and all the less known traiters all have two things in common: 1) they betrayed greatness. 2) They destroyed themselves in the process. Thando, only time will tell. In fact, because this new breed of bag a wires and Judases betrayed you for free, there are lots of us who would eagerly donate the 30 pieces of silver in order for them to complete the Judas mission.

    On behalf of all the people who love you, support you, respect you, pedestalized you and most importantly, the students of Toronto’s Africentric Alternative school whose lives you so profoundly impacted, I apologize to you. We have been remiss in not only under appreciating your work, your leadership, your contribution and commitment to your people, but calously and calculating worn you down. Your resignation is undoubtedly a huge blow for everyone and in particular the students. Albeit its inevitabilty was obvious from the get go. You have been a victim of the bag a wire and Judas syndrome so rampant in our communty. Yes, I mean the mental slavery.
    Let s face it, you hardly turned the key in the lock at Canada’s first Africentric school door before the bag a wire syndrome started to manifest. It took them a whole year to plot and implements the school’s demise. Just take note of this, shortly after the school’s inception, a group of Satan’s hinge men disguised as ‘concerned parents’ started to implement their wicked plot against you by criticizing you for not providing enough input to parents and for a curriculum they said was not African enough. One parent blatantly lied by accusing you of ‘acting inappropriately with a student,’ they shot you first and then questioned the validity of the claim. In other words, suspended with pay for six weeks, until both police and board investigations cleared you completely. Thando,we totally deserted you, look at it this way, we have predators within the same educational system that even with evidence to substantiate certain claims, we allow them to stay within the system, continue to compromise and destroy our youths until we get “adequate evidence” to validate the claims. Does anyone get the sense that hell has started to freeze? This whole scenario is truly a modern day tragedy for us!

    Please continue being your best you and always inspiring our youths to reach for the stars. We are priviledged and honoured to be blessed with an extraordinarily bright mind such as yours. On behalf of our community, our country and our nation, we Thank you Thando.

    All my best,
    Paulet Biedermann

    Thursday June 21 at 10:55 am

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