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Between Opportunity and Inequality: Educating Etobicoke in Metro Toronto (Canada), 1945–Present

Tuesday 6 July 2021 (17:30-19:00)

Jane Martin - 

With speaker Dr Jason Ellis from the University of British Columbia

Rexdale Public School 1955 and Smithfield Public School 1952At one time Canada’s inner suburbs like Etobicoke (pronounced \e-ˈtō-bi-ˌkō) were springboards of opportunity. In the first two decades or so after World War II, these communities enabled two investments that helped to vault families into the expanding middle class: the purchase of an affordable house and a quality, free public education for their children. However, since about 1970, income inequality has encroached significantly on opportunity in inner suburbs such as Etobicoke. Inequality has accelerated at the same time that Canadian inner suburbs have become more racially diverse. Since few studies of suburban education in Canada exist, it is not clear how suburban school systems and communities are faring with these challenging changes. 

This presentation will take up one or two of the conscious policy decisions that local school trustees, suburban politicians, private real estate developers, provincial Ministry of Education officials, and a host of others made as they built and managed Etobicoke and its schools over several generations. This way it will try to address two interrelated questions: (a) What are the historical relationships among suburban schooling, homeownership, opportunity and social mobility, race and immigration, and income inequality? (b) What can be done? Or, what does the study of the past tell policy makers that can help them to make better decisions for Etobicoke and other Canadian suburbs in the present?

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