I am a program facilitator with the Pathways to Education in Regent Park, a fantastic program which has transformed the culture of the community and become a focal point and a sort of rite of passage for the youth who live there.
One of the major reasons that Pathways exists is the simple fact that there is no high school in Regent Park. There are over 900 grade 9-12 students enrolled in the program who live in the catchment areas. Please keep in mind that surrounding Regent are the neighbourhoods of Moss Park and North St James Town and the youth who live in these neighbourhoods follow the same routine as the kids in Regent… they travel to other neighbourhood schools. Jarvis C.I and CALC Secondary School are the closest schools, a decent walking distant for students. Others are forced to take the TTC, a cost which is not provided by the school board. Based the 2005 statistics, the median family income in Regent Park was $29,511, the average family had 4 individual members and 44% of the community’s population were between the ages of 0-24. For a single student to purchase enough TTC tokens at student prices for this school year would cost $665. That is a significant amount of money for a family that is more than likely spending more than 30% of the their income on rent alone. Now imagine you are a parent with 2, 3, 4 high school age children…
This got me to wonder if whether or not the community had ever petitioned the city and the school board to build a high school in the area. So of course, I googled. I didn’t find anything in previous newspaper articles or blog posts that would indicate there had been (I’m still looking into it). I did however discover that Regent Park/Duke of York public school was deemed surplus and has be set to close its doors for September 2012.
Why is TDSB closing the school? Oh right, declining registration. I can’t imagine that the “decline in registration” could have anything to do with the fact that community members were moved out for the “revitalization” project and many have been told that they will not be able to move back into the community. The school is not just in use during the day, in the evenings there are community groups (such as Pathways to Education) that use the school to engage the youth in positive programming. But Kendra, Nelson Mandela is getting a face lift and a new recreation center to boot! Again, a lack of transparency has left me wondering if this “new recreation center” mentioned in the TDSB documents is actually the pool that is currently under construction for the Pan Am Games or if the South Regent Community Center (which is rumoured to come down) is being replaced with a bigger and better community center?
So, where do I go from here? I want the best for the youth I serve and their families, which include younger siblings who will one day be signing up for Pathways just like their older brothers and sisters. I’m lost and feel a bit helpless to be honest…
Why did I write this blog entry?
1) I began thinking about my job and what it is I do as an individual to effect change, and what is it that Pathways does to effect change?
2) This got me wondering how much more effective could Pathways be (and myself as an individual) be if there were a high school in the neighbourhood? How could funds be reallocated if students no longer needed TTC tokens to get to school? How would the tutoring program look if we were able to be in the school during and after school?
What do I need to find out before I jump to deep into the idea of a high-school-in-Regent-Park?
1) What previous discussion has happened in the past about putting a high school in Regent Park?
2) Who was involved in the discussion?
3) How much would it cost? How much would it improve the neighbourhood?
Am I crazy?
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