- Published on Monday, 23 May 2011 15:24
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 2013
Ontario has two school systems funded by taxpayers – the public and the Catholic system. This is supposed to be a requirement of the Canadian Constitution but despite this, Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland have found ways to merge their systems. There are also language divisions (French, English) but in Ontario, there are very few French schools. There are three problems with this – first, it is a financial burden. Many communities have duplicate schools and bussing systems; there are two sets of school board bureaucracy and there are inefficiencies in teaching. The One School Network (www.onessn.org) estimates that this penalty is hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
The second problem is equal rights. The UN said that Ontario’s system is discriminatory but of course the politicians have ignored that. Funding going to one group but not others is simply contrary to basic human rights.
The third problem is that because of their outdated religious beliefs, Catholic schools discriminate against groups such as gays. The Catholic School board recently voted to implement a non-discriminatory policy as mandated by law so it would appear superficially that they are compliant on this. However, students are still banned from forming student clubs (Gay-Straight Alliances) that support gay rights – and no doubt supporting “Pro-Choice” is not an option!
Few in Ontario want to extend full funding to everyone – it would open the door to not only schools for all religions no matter how few but also to anyone who wanted to get their strange beliefs embedded into gullible young minds. The solution is to do away with the separate Catholic Schools.
The Catholic population of course wants to keep their schools. The reasons are varied but include:
- They transfer from parents to teachers the burden of teaching their faith to their kids.
- Maintains what is perceived to be a better quality system – perhaps because of better discipline.
- Shields children from the worst of public school problems such as drugs and gangs – this is probably just a perception.
In addition, there are groups who would like subsidies for their schools but will have a school anyway – e.g. Muslims, private schools and the Jewish community. In the interest of fairness, they should get the same treatment as Catholics.
An obvious solution that would get at least some public support would be to implement the same system as used in Manitoba. In simple terms this is as follows:
- Non-public schools get a per pupil grant equivalent to 50% of the provincial average per pupil expenditure in the previous year. This is basically operating costs and capital costs are not covered.
- A condition of the grant is that the same curriculum must be taught although other subjects (e.g. religion) may be added.
The One School Network (www.onessn.org) is a an alliance of 12 organizations – including Muslims and Hindus – who want to correct this injustice. They are sponsoring a conference called: ONE SCHOOL SYSTEM FOR ALL. It will be held Saturday, 28 May 2011, 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM at North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge Street, Toronto. Fee is $20.00 ($5.00 for students and seniors). It promises to help spotlight this ongoing problem in Ontario.