Can education be the great equalizer in a society that is unequal in so many ways? One look at schools in the neighbouring communities of Thorncliffe Park and Leaside shows that disparities in educational performance mirror income inequality. This disparity starts as early as senior kindergarten, measured in early development scores, and continues throughout elementary, middle and high school levels as reflected in provincial standardized tests.
Preempting the argument that the new-immigrant status and thus the lack of English-language skills of students and parents in Thorncliffe is likely responsible for the low scores, the event showed that this pattern repeats itself across other low-income communities across Toronto, many of whom have been here for generations.
So, what does income have to do with it? Low-income families tend to spend most of their money on rent leaving little for educational enhancement activities, like music and sports classes. The financial stress in the household limits the quantity and quality of time parents are able to spend engaging with their children. On the structural level, funding constraints faced by school boards means they rely more and more on parental fundraising, resulting in gross inequities between schools in wealthy neighbourhoods and those in low-income ones.