The preventable violence in Toronto schools
How activists use “historically marginalized communities”
Woke Watch Canada Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The illiberal subversion of Canada’s public institutions by woke activists has resulted in the nationwide imposition of the social justice movement. This institutional infliction was brought about not just by the internal agitation of woke activists, but also by the useful idiots who go along with them. Through employment, often in administrative roles, activists gain entrance into public (and private) institutions. Once on the inside, they advocate for what they call “social transformation,” and leverage the influence their positions afford them. They “struggle” and “do the work” of colonizing our institutions with more social justice activists and ideology. In many cases, they have achieved a hegemonic situation in various departments, offices or boards where they operate. Because of this, for the most part, in many key public institutions, like education, activists are now calling the shots.
Charles Pincourt wrote about a technique vital to this process. He described the activists' use of what he calls “crossover words.” These are words with double meanings that have a built-in Motte & Bailey component. Or, another way to think of it: they are Trojan Horse words. There are a ton of such words and phrases that are deliberately used to obfuscate and conceal the true intention of activists. The manipulative use of these terms subverts liberal and democratic norms, and fiendishly helps activists win broad support from a public tricked into accepting things they otherwise would not.
Crossover words often play on emotions. They invoke common assumptions which can trigger unthinking automatic agreement by those who feel they are hearing the reinforcement of some value or principle long ago decided universally good. These crossover words often make us feel virtuous when we parrot our support for them. But if we cut through the double dealing and Motte & Bailey and consider instead the intended meaning, objective and potential ramifications of the hidden thing seeking support, it is unlikely we would support it.
“Historically marginalized communities” is one such trio of terms that obscures its true meaning. “Marginalized” has a connotation that those in marginal socio-economic situations, according to societal standards, have had something negative done to them which has “marginalized” them. Not, that they have so far been unable to ameliorate their undesired situation. This is an important distinction. One places blame externally, the other takes responsibility.
A Cambridge Union motion for debate: "The House Should Pay Reparations,” was held at Cambridge University in 2022. London-based writer and historian, Rafe Heydel-Mankoo, argued that reparations paid to the black community (historically marginalized community) in America for a two centuries old crime (the Atlantic slave trade), makes no sense as it is “not 1807” and no one alive today was ever a slave, nor were any of their parents or grandparents.
There is nothing marginalizing black people today, regardless of the fact that many are in what is considered to be marginalized circumstances. Poor socio-economic outcomes are complex problems requiring multivariate analysis to understand. Applied here, the disparity fallacy, which identifies black socio-economic outcomes which are less favorable compared to whites as evidence of systemic racism, is an ideological trap that offers an intellectually expedient (lazy) answer to a vastly complex problem.
The activists try to qualify the “marginalization” by calling it “historical,” ignoring the fact that all human populations have been marginalized at one time or another. When they say “historically,” they are being highly selective by limiting the scope of history to include the Atlantic slave trade and European colonization, but not much else.
Even the use of “communities” is often misleading. It wasn’t long ago when “community” most often meant the people who lived together in a shared geographic location. Today however, “community” can just as easily mean one of the identity groups found within the various identity politics frameworks that dominate activist ideology. Confusingly, because economic class is the factor most likely to determine which physical communities people can afford to live in, sometimes “communities” refers to “low income areas” or “areas with high crime.” In these cases, “community” takes on the location specific definition, but you need to listen carefully to the activists to know at any given moment what they mean.
While it makes sense to offer support to BIPoC and other students who come from economically depressed areas, it makes less sense when they come from affluent ones. So which communities are activists advocating for? The BIPoC community, which would include some affluent families, or the low income community, which would include non-BIPoC families? Because of “equity” policies, in practice, it is BIPoC people who are prioritized for support, regardless of economic or other social circumstances, at the expense of non-BIPoC people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Activists get away with this through the misleading use of crossover words like “historically marginalized communities.”
Woke activists from within the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) believe that the alarming explosion of violence in schools needs to be dealt with by enhanced support for communities that are suffering. Which type of community do you think they mean? Forever eschewing pragmatism, they refuse to talk about suspending, expelling or even disciplining violent kids. They won’t consider bringing police into schools - even as parents and students beg for real safety measures. At one Toronto school, parents on the school council even offered to pay for security.
But the activists won’t have it. They think that the “communities” most involved in the violent and criminal disturbances at school are “over-surveilled” and “over-policed.” They say that police are racist, especially towards “historically marginalized communities,” and that their presence in schools is traumatizing for them. They say this in spite of the fact that BIPoC students, like Tia Ryan Matthais, who recently discussed policing in schools with Steve Paikan, express a desire to have police in schools.
In November of 2022, TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikan produced a segment called “Is Violence on the Rise in Ontario Schools?”
“Would you feel safer if there was a police presence in your school all the time?” - Steve Paikan
“Yes. 100%. The police just being there, or being outside, just making sure that students are safe would make me feel a lot better.” - Tia Ryan Matthais, student TDSB
When activists Tesfai Mengesha, Executive director Success Beyond Limits, was asked by Paikan about the issue of violence at TDSB, he said he wanted to broaden the conversation because “schools are a part of communities. So as we see violence increase across the city of Toronto in communities, we are also seeing similarities in schools…it’s really important to look at communities more broadly. If we have healthy vibrant livable communities that have affordable housing, meaningful employment and livable wages, accessible transportation, access to nutritious food, I think we will have healthier communities and can address some of the problems we are here discussing with regards to violence…”
That is a great theory Tesfai has, and I am sure any community would benefit from the things he listed. However, he addresses practically everything but the actual problem. When students are bringing knives and guns to school to commit acts of violence, we are past the point of offering after school or community outreach programs to help them. The public school system, especially if it is determined not to allow police presence in hallways, is not equipped to deal with violent people. It is unfair and unsafe to place violent students in close quarters with non-violent ones. But activists don’t seem to care at all about the good kids, instead they prattle on endlessly about transforming the entire society to create “safe inclusive spaces” that accommodate the special needs of violent kids - all of which, of course, at the expense of those students who are not violent and are serious about their education.
Steve Paikan responded toTesfari’s grand social vision saying it sounded like a good plan that will take 10 years. What will be done tomorrow to make kids safe he asks. The activists have no real answer. They are incompetent. Virtually every “expert” in education who sat on the Agenda panel repeated the same nonsense about addressing root causes. A nebulous prescription at best that conveniently makes it next to impossible to hold these activist educators accountable when they fail to transform society and the TDSB into the utopia that “root causes” is preventing.
Later in the segment, he asserts, along with most of the panel, that he does not support police in schools. At one point he says “when there is a violent incident, a young person is communicating something, something is not working for them.”
While it may be true that a student from a “marginalized community” may have “something not working for them,” something that may be a direct result of pressures outside of school, why is it in any way acceptable for that student to express their frustration through violence directed at other students? What is gained by ignoring, normalizing, or allowing violent behaviour regardless of which community students who commit violent or criminal acts belong to? As far as I am concerned Tesfai, like so many people in education, is not a serious person, and his ideas should be dismissed as nonsense.
Anna Sidiropoulos, a parent on the school council at Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute (a school that has had two separate stabbing incidents so far in the current school year), was also part of the Agenda panel. She mentions that, in spite of the name of the TDSB’s recent report on addressing violence in Toronto schools - “The Collaborative Approach to School and Community Safety” - there was no collaboration with parents. If there had been, parents would have demanded police presence in schools.
I have again gone on for too long, so I will leave it at that for today. You can bet I will be following the developments at the TDSB, so stay tuned to these pages for more updates soon.
Thanks for reading. For more from this author read, What the hell is the point of Woke Watch Canada?
There are now two ways to support Woke Watch Canada through donations:
1) By subscribing to the paid version of the Woke Watch Canada Newsletter for - $5 USD/month or $50 USD/year
Woke Watch Canada Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
2) By donating to the Canadian School Board Investigation fund, which is raising money to expand Woke Watch Canada’s research and investigation into dysfunctional Canadian school boards.
Spot on! I have a child at John G Althouse middle school in Toronto. This school is totally plagued with violence right now and the school is doing little to nothing about it. Next week they will be doing something called “MovementX”. What is that? Very good question. It’s a DEI educational course that uses “movement-based” teaching techniques. How do I know this? I had to call the private company that runs the program to ask them what they do. I also asked them “by what metric do you measure your success?” He said, student and staff feedback. How is that a metric of anything substantive? To make matters worse, the school is asking parents to “donate” $10 each to support this week long exercise. This is a crazy expenditure at a school that is already extremely diverse; that is going through some ongoing violence; and can’t even afford to send kids on field trips or even provide the necessary laptops for actual school work.
Using fundamentalist religious or political ideology to make decisions about policy, rather than reason, is bound to cause problems. Charles Pincourt is correct when he says "crossover words" like "systemic racism" and "historically marginalized communities" are used to justify and rationalize school policy. Individual responsibility and agency are nullified if a person belongs to a "historically marginalized" group. The concepts behind "crossover words" are thought to be a priori true, any student or parent questioning the dogma will be faced with ad hominem responses and circular reasoning. Accountability is not a factor for people who believe they are in possession of the truth.