A raft of misconceptions are floating around about how an African-centred school would work.
To my mind, one of the most import is the idea that the project is an attempt to directly address black children's high failure rate.
If, as some suggest, the purpose of the school is to rescue failing black students, we can pretty much look forward to plunging attendance and morale, signalling the ultimate failure of the experiment.
Rather, the institution should be designed to serve black students of all abilities and levels, because children naturally get inspired as much by each other as by their teachers.
It seems very important for supporters of the idea to remain vigilant about creating an all-abilities school as the idea continues to be debated at the board level.
I think it's useful to see the project as a lab school where an all-inclusive curriculum and the methodology to achieve it will be developed and tested for the larger school system.
In that sense, there is a real possibility an African-centred school may end up solving some of the deficits of mainstream schools. It will probably turn out that the TDSB won't need more than a single elementary and secondary black-focused school to make a huge difference.
A model school such as this would not teach just about Africa, any more than it would teach only about any other continent. Rather, the curriculum would start from the realization that African history and experiences have been omitted, minimized or distorted in the current Eurocentric programs.
When European explorers called on African shores for the first time, for example, their African hosts staged festivals and feasts in their honour, misinterpreted by some Europeans to mean Africans were childlike.
These explorers concluded that Africa had no civilization, a perception that was readily relayed back to Europe. Part of the problem with current teaching is that it still contains some of those biases.
This is why, in terms of units taught, as much time should be given to Africa and the African diaspora as to Europe, other continents and Aboriginal peoples.
Twentieth-century world history classes would focus on all continents, unlike today's curriculum, which favours modern Western and American history.
Elementary and high school pupils today are taught ancient civilizations, but much of it is about Egypt, Greece, Rome and medieval Europe. Ancient Egypt is taught as if it were not an African civilization.
Rectifying such misrepresentations would benefit not only the African-Canadian students in the new institution but, eventually, all students. African themes, as well, would prevail in all subjects, from literature, history, arts, geography, social sciences and humanities to math and sciences.
The black-focused school's main purpose is not to segregate all black children. That's why it need not exclude non-black students and staff as long as they share its goals.
But let's be clear: the majority may have to be black to realize the full impact of the effort.
Bairu Sium teaches economics, history and law at Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute.