Ontario School Funding

The Toronto Star, August 11th:

Ontario is the only province where taxpayers pay 100 per cent of the costs for students who attend Catholic schools and none of the costs for students attending Islamic, Jewish, Christian or other faith-based schools.

Other provincial governments either partially fund all faith-based schools, which meet guidelines, or fund none of them.

If elected premier on Oct. 10, Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory plans to extend taxpayer funding to all faith-based schools that teach the Ontario curriculum, follow standardized testing and have accredited teachers.

…there’s a great gulf between those who think his plan – to extend what Catholics get to all faiths – is the right fix, and those who would prefer to end public funding of the Catholic system.


Filed under John Tory, news, ontario, PC Party, Provincial Election, Religion, Schools

4 responses to “Ontario School Funding

  1. Mike

    What is striking in the debate about John Tory’s proposal to offer equal funding to non-Catholic faith-based schools is that almost nobody seriously defends the Liberal position of refusing to change the obviously unfair status quo, comprised of full funding for Catholic schools with zero funding for other faith based schools.

    It is becoming clear that the only respectable debate is between the Tory’s inclusive policy of equal funding for all faith-based schools, and the Green Party’s Americanized policy of taking away public funding from all faith-based schools, including Catholic schools.

    The lack of leadership from Liberal politicians on this issue is most disappointing.

  2. Yale

    How about none you hypocrite “progressive conservative”

  3. James

    McGuinty is a hypocrite on this issue, for sure.

    He went to Catholic schools. His wife teaches at Catholic schools. All publicly funded!

    Now he has the gall to say that funding the small minority of faith-based schools that Ontario does not already fund will make the sky fall! The man has no shame.

    Here is what McGuinty’s father said about funding faith-based schools to the 1984-5 Shapiro Commission:

    For full summary see: http://www.equalfunding.org/resources.html


    In my experience the phrase “Independent – Alternative Schools” refers to schools such as Counterpoint, Montessori, Waldorf, Christian, Jewish, Catholic high schools [which in 1984 were not fully funded] and other schools which are not within the public system and to which the Education Act applies a loaded label as “private schools”. …

    I will suggest some of the reasons why I believe that Independent – Alternative Schools are relevant in our society of today and are worthy of public support.

    First, I believe that these schools are relevant in society today because they exist. … These schools … have a remarkable kind of existence. In Ontario they number over 500 different school units and have a total enrollment of approximately 80,000 students. And they would appear to be increasing in size and number. They exist by virtue of the interest and sacrifice of a significant number of concerned and dedicated people, who support these schools in addition to paying their school taxes. These schools and their supporters cannot be dismissed with a respectful wave of the hand. These parents are not a lunatic fringe living on the periphery of society. And these schools cannot be accurately and fairly considered as “divisive”, “second class”, or “elitist” and “snobbish” as the label “private” denotes. They are simply and factually significant in number and in size and in quality. And they are a long way from death through discouragement, indifference, or the blight of obsolescence.

    Secondly, I believe that Independent – Alternative Schools are relevant because they have a right to exist – and that right implies a correlative obligation of government to respect that right in practical ways. They have a right to exist insofar as they efficiently serve the needs of their pupils and parents, and society, by fulfilling the basic function of the school. And they have a right to exist because the common good of our society does not hinge on a single, uniform type of schooling, in a monolithic system. … I do not believe that it can be shown that independent alternative schools are inadequate as schools and that they exert an influence detrimental to the well-being of our society. And those who might not agree should look to their programs and their teachers and students – and to the parents, children, doctors, lawyers, civil servants, [and] teachers who are the products of independent alternative schools. And those concerned and dedicated tax paying citizens who work and sacrifice to support them.

    Thirdly, I believe that Independent – Alternative Schools are relevant in our society because they are capable of serving important needs … which …are of value not only to their students, but to the public school system and to society as a whole. I beluieve they are capable of doing some things which are not possible nor permissible to the same extent within the public system. These things have to do with academic program, pedagogical techniques and, to use and awkward but I think meaningful phrase “the realm of values”. And to my mind, first in order of importance has to do with values. Traditionally, education has been thought of a a process of enculturation – a means whereby the values of the past are transmitted to the present and the future. … During the past fifty years the public school system has become more vulnerable to criticism by many parents for its alleged failure to do so, in accordance with many parents’ desires.
    In a pluralist society there is a real problem posed for the public school – for the public school must serve children who come from families divided into hundreds of religious and anti-religious bodies. This is pluralism with a vengeance. This is a fact. And the fact has implications. With students and teachers of diverse convictions, the public school must attempt a so-called neutrality on the great issues of life. It must operate with limited horizons. The Independent – Alternative Schools is able to assume a clearly defined philosophy of life and a specific orientation in accord with the values of its students and their parents. The public school must serve the interests of those who would keep that dimension out. The Independent – Alternative School can serve those who would keep it in. …
    And this “something of value” which the Independent – Alternative School would attempt to impart is of value to society. …The fortunes of a free society are intimately linked to the fact of a morally informed and sensitive citizenry. Values and standards which are more than mere habits, which go down below the soil of custom into the rock of clear conviction… are founded in a philosophy of life. A liberal state spends on the morality of its people. The state cannot create this morality. It has to take it for granted. While this is primarily the responsibility of the church and the home, many people feel that they want the help of the school in this regard – with their school an extension of their home. And the state which is not cognizant of this fact may very well deprive itself of the kind of citizens it needs for survival. … I believe that Independent – Alternative Schools are relevant insofar as they can serve this purpose in a particular way.

    And with regard to the wishes of parents who support Independent – Alternative Schools from the aspect of their values or pedagogical techniques, there is here an important principle. The prior right in education is with the family. The family is an imperfect society which needs the help of other agencies – notably the school. And historically the school was set up for this purpose. And so the family delegates to the school a part of this responsibility. But education is a cooperative activity between the home and school. And the family has a right to look to the school as in some ways an extension of itself. … And some parents, by choice, for valid reason, would exercise what they consider to be their parental right to have their children in a school which more nearly approximates their idea of a school, from the aspect of values, atmosphere, program [and] teaching techniques. The Independent – Alternative School provides these people with an institution which serves their felt need.

    Fourthly, I believe that Independent – Alternative Schools are relevant because of their character as a natural resource…, in the boys and girls, in the young men and women whom they are preparing for their productive and mature years in Canadian society. All schools have value as a natural resource – whether public or private, independent or alternative. As a natural resource Independent – Alternative Schools have a value. … Only recently have the governments of this country become properly conscious of their responsibility for natural resources. … In my experience, Independent – Alternative Schools were not properly appreciated as natural resources in the past, nor are they at present.
    My father worked at a lumber mill, and he worked hard and long to raise his six children. He served his country well and loved it – a lot more uncritically than I do. You know about what his salary was. But he worked extra hard and long to pay our fees through an independent alternative high school. We helped him all we could – knowing full well that he was in a sense paying double taxes for our schooling – that he was a second class citizen not permitted by law to direct his [education] taxes to the school of his choice – a school incidentally which produced some of the finest lawyers and doctors and judges and ordinary people in the country. And even some politicians. [p.11]

  4. John Humphreys

    Full funding for faith-based schools would be the worst mistake any provincial government could make. It would lead to a proliferation of faith-based schools, at the expense of the public system. It would lead to deeper divisions within society, and increased isolation along cultural lines. I normally vote Conservative, but unless John Tory changes his tune on this issue, his party will not get my vote in the upcoming election.

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