African students in North America hail from many backgrounds: African-American, African-Canadian, Jamaican, Nigerian, Somali, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Trinidadian, Brazilian, and many, many others across the African planet. Despite that massive diversity, they face many of the same acute difficulties arising from conscious and unconscious racial discrimination.
Then there’s down-streaming—the intentional and unintentional practice of steering African students away from university-track classes and into classes that lead nowhere but out the door.
In Edmonton, various teachers report that African-Canadian students are disproportionately over-enrolled in low-track courses and under-enrolled in academic and advanced classes, and while many community members have been asking the provincial government to record statistics indicating student experience by ethnicity, so far such information remains unavailable.
In Toronto, even though the TDSB ordered the end to streaming in 1999, by 2011, only 53 percent of African-Canadian students took academic courses, compared with 80 percent of Euro-Canadian students and 81 percent of students from all other racial backgrounds.
CRISIS: CLOSED DOORS TO GIFTED CLASSROOMS AND STEM JOBS
As the Boston Consulting Group reports, African students in Toronto are 12 percent of the population, but get to sit in only 3 percent of the desks in “gifted classrooms.” Unless one believes toxic racist myths of genetic or cultural inferiority of all Africans from every African nationality (around 1.3 billion humans), one must face that the current system shafts fully 75 percent of African-Canadian children who are gifted. What a massive loss for them, but also for society, to leave that much brilliance on the floor. ScienceDaily cites a Harvard Educational Review from a decade ago showing that Euro-American math teachers at largely African schools in the US were more likely to escalate problems than their African colleagues which “may have long-term negative consequences for student performance.” Students who fare poorly at math can forget most science, engineering, math, and technology (STEM) careers, which according to a PEW Research Centre study about US workers, bring “higher median earnings than those in other, non-STEM occupations. In 2019, median earnings for full-time, year-round workers ages 25 and older in a STEM job were about $77,400. The comparable median for workers in other, non-STEM occupations was $46,900.”