Advancing the public good

Last week we pointed to research by Cardus, a non-partisan, faith-based think tank, that debunked the harmful myth that independent schools are primarily the domain of the elite and that the families in independent schools are primarily rich and privileged.

This week we bring readers’ attention to a companion piece of research by Cardus that appeared in The Toronto Star August 12, 2019. Under the headline, “Independent schools contribute to the public good and deserve public support”, Ray Pennings, Cardus’ executive vice president definitively puts paid to the false notion that students in independent schools graduate to a life of self-interested disregard for the community at large because of a presumed exclusive loyalty to their elite socio-economic milieu.

Pennings relies upon data that shows the benefit to the wider public educational systems – in this case, Australia and Finland – arising from the infusion of public funds to independent schools. He also cites information gathered over the past decade from independent schools in the United States and in Canada to demonstrate the positive contributions of independent schools to the overall health of their host societies.

He notes that individuals who graduate from independent schools are far more likely than public school graduates to become involved in the life of their wider community by volunteering their time and giving charity. These graduates also tended to view their independent school educations as positive experiences and as good preparation for life.

In helping build character and educating students for a life of civic responsibility Pennings says “the evidence is significant that independent schools meet or exceed the outcomes of the government school system. And we can safely do away with arguments that assert public financing of independent schools harms public education. As we’ve seen in Australia and Finland, it does the opposite.”

These findings are not surprising in the Jewish community. Advancing the public good has always been a core Jewish value and a fundamental Jewish obligation. (Tikun olam b’malchut Shadai. Mending the world under the sovereignty of God.)

There is no contradiction between sending our children to Jewish school and teaching them to care for and always advance the public good. Indeed that is precisely what they learn at school.

This merely heightens the injury and the absurdity in the fact that Ontario provides no funding to the independent schools to help them bring graduate students with the active betterment of the community and the world in their hearts.

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The article by Pennings can be found at:

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2019/08/12/independent-schools-contribute-to-the-public-good-and-deserve-public-support.html

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Shabbat Shalom

GAJE

September 20, 2019

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