Ever since the Supreme Court of Canada in 1996 declared constitutional Ontario’s unfair educational funding policies, the community has been stymied in attempting to fulfil its historic aim of trying to ensure that every family would be able to afford a Jewish education for its children.
That sense of communal frustration was compounded a decade later in 2006, when the Ontario electorate rejected the candidacy of John Tory for premier. Tory had explicitly said during the campaign that he would introduce a pilot project to try to bring some measure of fairness and justice to the province’s educational funding.
In the intervening 23 years since the Supreme Court’s decision, Ontario’s demographics have changed: large numbers of Ontarians have indicated a preference for more competition in schooling. Indeed, the funding experience of the next five largest provinces after Ontario indicates that public funding for some portion of the general studies portion of independent schools eventually saves money for the public treasury. And during that same period of time, we know, alas, the cost of living a Jewish life in the GTA has skyrocketed. Jewish education had become out of reach for a great many young families.
Last year the community leadership committed to making the affordability of Jewish education to be their first priority. Their decision was celebrated at the time, remains celebrated today, and deserves to be commended and supported.
Individuals from all walks within the community, however, are still divided about the wisdom and propriety of attempting to have the courts reassess and perhaps reopen the 1996 decision of the Supreme Court.
GAJE believes it is the correct thing to do. Some people disagree with us.
In his commentary this week on Parashat Korah, Rabbi Marc D. Angel suggests how such a difference of approach within the community should be handled.
“When people—individually, communally, nationally—have disagreements, they can engage in serious discussion and dialogue even if the parties are critical of each other’s positions. Each can offer arguments and refutations. Both sides—even if holding very different positions—can still find a common ground and can see themselves as working toward one goal.”
The diverse and disparate efforts of concerned and interested members in the community are aimed at the same target: making Jewish education affordable. And as Rav Angel suggests, we enhance our chances of reaching the target when we all stand on common ground.
Rabbi Angel’s full article is available at:
GAJE July 5, 2019