Ontario’s educational funding policy “no longer has any merit”

Attitudes towards Ontario’s unfair educational funding policies appear to be changing. And it is not just the families of children in Jewish schools that feel affronted.

The Toronto Star reported this week that  “a small grassroots coalition plans to launch a legal challenge against separate school funding in Ontario.” (The article was posted on GAJE’s Facebook page.)

“Why do we only fund Catholic separate schools in 2017 in Ontario, which is a very diverse province?” says Reva Landau of Toronto, who founded One Public Education Now (OPEN), about a year ago,” told The Star.

At this point, it is unclear how the position advocated by OPEN meshes with the views of Jewish educational officials. However, to the extent that the resulting ultimate funding policy mirrors that in the province of Quebec, one would think that Jewish families in Ontario would be delighted. Quebec demands a single province-wide educational curriculum. But it makes allowances for different denominational curricula as well, as long as the overriding province-wide curriculum is also followed and respected. Moreover, and most important for our purposes, Quebec – as well as other provinces – defrays some of the cost for all the schools in delivering the general, province-wide non-denominational curriculum.

The Star article contained a very telling piece of information. Charles Pascal, professor at University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and a former deputy minister of education who advised former premier Dalton McGuinty on educational matters, said separate school funding was “an anachronism.” Despite being enshrined during Confederation, Pascal said it no longer has merit in a multicultural province.

It bears recalling that Premier McGuinty excoriated John Tory in the provincial election campaign for suggesting a pilot project of fair educational funding precisely because it would tear away at the multicultural fabric of the province by undermining our excellent public school system.

Pascal said that perhaps a legal challenge will “change the landscape” sufficiently to prod the politicians.

If falls to all of us to keep up the momentum in changing the landscape.

We must never give up or surrender to the feelings of helplessness wrought by the legal enshrinement some 21 years ago of profound discrimination by the Province of Ontario in educational funding.

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Shabbat shalom.

GAJE

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