The North Star


Conditions in Ontario Public Schools

Students walk out over “inhumane” conditions at West Toronto high school

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This past Friday, December 2, high-school students of York Memorial C.I. and the recently-closed George Harvey C.I. in Toronto's west-end organized a midday "walk out" at their school to protest "police violence, racist teachers and administrators, unsafe learning conditions and the general misadministration at the school", all of which have become worse problems since York Memorial and George Harvey were merged into one building this past September.

Students are demanding an investigation into the abuses they're suffering at the school, an allocation of greater resources, an end to police presence in school altogether, and a public school-student union. A number of students spoke out at the demonstration against the conditions they've been made to suffer:

Such are the consequences of the $1.3 billion cuts to education in Ontario for the 2022-23 school year. The Ford government's cuts have increased in-person class sizes from 22 students to 28, and "e-learning" classes, which have replaced over a quarter of in-person classes, can have as many as 35 students per teacher. These cuts are also part of what provoked education workers into their "illegal" strike action this past November 2022.

Amidst the misadministration and disrepair, fights between students have been breaking out more frequently, which staff have been ineffective at preventing or resolving, turning instead to police. Making matters worse,g mainstream media reporting has been quick to portray students as delinquents. A quick Google search shows many CP24, CTV News and Toronto Sun articles with sensationalist headlines about violence in school, blaming students for the Toronto District School Board’s general decline.

TDSB Principal Colleen Russel-Rawlins also made an appearance at the protest and had the opportunity to report on the situation. Russell-Rawlins promised to listen and meet with the students as a group, conduct an investigation, and even allocate more resources to the school, but she refused to commit to not using the police in the event of a "worsening problem." Students rejected this commitment, arguing that students were better at defusing situations than teachers.

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