Different Numbers, Different Stories: Problematizing "Gaps" in Ontario and the TDSB

Vidya Shah


As an urban district reform for equity, the Model Schools for Inner Cities (MSIC) Program in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) was founded as a response to inequities in the city and opportunity gaps among groups of students. This study critically explores the equity discourses among various stakeholders in the MSIC Program between 2004-14, with a specific focus on how opportunity gaps are conceptualized. Critical discourse analysis was used with attention to how these discourses interacted within and between two sets of sixteen participant interviews and the analysis of twelve documents, as well as how the discourses changed over time. A spectrum of thinking emerged from the data on opportunity gap discourses, with Affirmative Discourses on the one hand, and transformative discourses on the other and included four components. Three of the four components were adapted from the work of Fraser’s (2005) tripartite theory of justice (Redistribution, Recognition and Representation). The fourth component emerged from the data and will be referred to as Re-education.


Opportunity Gaps; Achievement Gaps; Equity; District; Reform

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