Draft recommendations put forward by a Toronto District School Board task force are causing a stir with students in specialized programs and their parents.
The TDSB Equity Task Force released a report earlier this month with suggestions on how the board can be more inclusive. One of those recommendations is to end specialized programs, which the report noted have "resulted in divisions between schools."
That isn't sitting well with some students.
"It really comes as a shock," said Frank Hong, a student at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute. He's in the TOPS program, which specializes in math, sciences, and language arts.
"[These programs are] an essential part of the school community, and to take them away from communities and from potential future students is horrible."
The parent council of Earl Haig Secondary School, home to a specialized arts program, highlighted the section of the task force's report draft that suggests ending such programs and emailed their concerns to other parents at the school.
"From there, there was a lot of outrage online from students expressing their dislike in the TDSB's decision," said Niam Pattni, a student in the MaCS program at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute.
But on Friday, a spokesperson for the TDSB said decisions are far from made.
"The Enhancing Equity Task Force has put out these draft recommendations, and 'draft 'really is the key," said Ryan Bird. "These are not even the final recommendations, or the final say."
Bird said the task force is not looking to scrap schools or programs, but rather enhance marginalized students' access to them.
"The whole idea is that they've heard from literally thousands of people to help formulate draft recommendations that they put out there publicly so we can have the exact conversations we're having now," he said.
"If people have a concern, these are still only drafts — we'd encourage them to click on the TDSB website and you can learn how to get in touch with the task force to have your say."
The board is accepting feedback on the matter online until the end of the month.
A final equity report will come out in December.