The Portuguese-Canadian Coalition for Better Education A decade of community activism in education (1995-2005)

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Januario, Ilda
Marujo, Manuela
Nunes, Fernando
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Toronto Portuguese Parents Association
Executive summary: After a decade of activism, from 1995 till the end of 2004, the Portuguese-Canadian Coalition for Better Education folded as a lobbying group. The Coalition was a grouping of initially about sixty volunteers, individual activists, as well as representing different associations, all of whom with an interest in education - namely bettering the academic achievement of Portuguese-Canadian students. The purpose of this document is to explain the work of the Coalition based on the files left behind by the volunteers, now housed at the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, located in the Scott Library, Keele Campus,York University. Preceded by the Toronto Portuguese Parents Association in Liaison with the Toronto Board of Education (TBE), the Coalition came to being as a result of the 1991 The Every Secondary Student Survey, and a petition to the Ontario Ministry of Education calling for action to address deficiencies in the teaching of Toronto’s Portuguese-Canadian students. A meeting with Minister of Education David Cooke in April 1995 initiated a collaboration - between the Coalition and the two school boards in Toronto with the highest numbers of Portuguese-Canadian students - in face-to-face meetings of the Work/ Advisory Group, and later through the Tutoring Project. The issues discussed among the Coalition membership and with the two school boards were: Academic underachievement (Best Practices & tutoring projects), the placement of students in special education services, standard testing in inner-city schools; International Languages, parental involvement in the school system, School Community Advisors (SCAs); making available to the community statistical data on income, educational achievement, and special education; the onset of June Portuguese Month in Catholic and Public schools. The struggle to initiate and keep educational TV programs (ABC Show - CFMT), and the campaign to maintain the Portuguese Lectureship at the University of Toronto, were two other aspects of the Coalitions’ lobbying work, beyond the school system. The crowning achievement and legacy of the Coalition’s work was the Tutoring Program. It was started in 2001 and has been sustained until present by the Working Women Community Centre (WWCC) under the name On Your Mark. It assists 300 students in 53 schools.
Portuguese-Canadian Coalition for Better Education , Portuguese-Canadian students.