Independent Schools contribute to societal wellbeing and health

Last week, we shared with GAJE supporters a recent study by Cardus, on the financial cost of Ontario actually ending its discrimination against independent schools. Cardus, is an independent Canadian think tank whose research makes the case for tolerant, inclusive communal life lived on the basis of values that are rich in tradition and mutual respect focussing “on human dignity, strong families, religious freedom, formative education, and healthy communities.”

Part of Cardus’ purpose is to accompany the plea  – that Ontario to end its the unjust treatment of  families whose children attend independent schools – with facts and corroborated truths. Last week we referred to Cardus that provides the range of the possible costs for Ontario to fund its independent schools. That range extends from full funding to any of the many partial-funding models that already exist in Canada. The study pointed out that Ontario’s refusal to extend any funding to independent schools is “anomalous in both a global and Canadian context.” The study concludes that Ontario’s lack of financial support for independent-school students is “unjust and inequitable.”

Cardus concluded that the cost of ending educational funding discrimination would be “a relatively minimal cost,” from 0.3% to 0.8% of the budget, depending upon the model adopted by the provincial government.

This week we refer to a recent Cardus study by Ashley Rogers Berner, entitledGood Schools, Good Citizens: Do Independent Schools Contribute to Civic Formation?

Because it is imperative that GAJE supporters be aware of the substance and import of Funding All Students, we reproduce the study’s executive summary. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that public support of independent schools improves the civic capabilities of young people and leads “to a more civically integrated and politically engaged public.” In other words, it is demonstrably not the fact that the majority of independent school graduates stand aloof from the civic and social needs of their respective communities. Rather, they are more likely to plunge into the deep end of trying to enhance the wellbeing of the entire community and to pursue a broadly-based common good for everyone.

Because it is imperative that GAJE supporters be aware of this study too, we reproduce the study’s executive summary.

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Executive Summary

“The heart of democratic education lies in preparing the next generation to join the community of citizens. Indeed, state-funded public education developed out of the imperative to inculcate the civic knowledge, skills, and attachment necessary for democratic governance. But what is the role of independent schools in the process of civic formation and social cohesion? Do they help or hinder the development of democratic citizenship? What oversight should governments exercise over them? And should governments fund such schools as part of public education writ large?

“In all modern cases of which we are aware, explicit civic formation is seen as seminal to social cohesion. It is important, however, to understand that the goal in most cases is not to reinforce cultural homogeneity, but rather to create the conditions in which a heterogeneous population might negotiate their political differences through democratic processes and institutions.

This coincides with how most democracies understand public education. In this light, all forms of education remain within the public’s interest and concern, as other people’s children’s lives (including workforce participation and social well-being) and political involvement (understanding democratic institutions, analyzing legislation, and voting) shape ours. This is the long-established justification for taxpayer-funded education and mandatory school attendance. For this reason, independent schools are often included in modern democracies’ understanding of public education—and why their independent schools receive state funding and are held to common academic benchmarks alongside state schools.

“The vast majority of democracies have pluralist education systems: where the state, individuals, and civil society play equally important roles in democratic education. The goal of such educational pluralism is to maximize the freedom of schools to create their own organic communities with a common ethos and distinctive practices, while assuring the public of academic and civic quality with respect to outcomes.

“Is there evidence that this balance leads to success? Individually and collectively, the preponderance of findings on independent-school attendance after controlling for family background illustrate that the fear of independent schools’ negative impact on civic life remains misplaced. For example, a recent analysis of thirty-four quantitative studies on the effects of independent and state schools on civic outcomes yielded eighty-six separate statistically significant findings; fifty showed a clear independent-school advantage, thirty-three found neutral effects, and only three showed a state-school advantage.

“Independent schools can offer substantial benefits to civic formation. They do not inherently harm social cohesion as some critics fear; indeed, on almost every measure, independent-school attendance enhances civic outcomes. Thus, democratic policy-makers can have confidence that expanding access to independent schools while ensuring their quality is likely to enhance the civic capabilities of young people and lead, eventually, to a more civically integrated and politically engaged public.

“Democracies are fragile. Each generation must prepare the next to take up the rights and responsibilities of citizens; schools bear an outsized burden in this process. Independent schools, in particular, play a positive role in inculcating the knowledge, skills, and habits that animate lifelong democratic participation. The key is honouring religious, philosophical, and pedagogical beliefs of families and students while ensuring robust knowledge-building for all.”

The complete study is available at:

https://www.cardus.ca/research/education/reports/good-schools-good-citizens/

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GAJE will soon announce the launch of a lawsuit to try to end the discrimination in Ontario’s educational system against the funding of independent schools, in our case, denominationally Jewish schools. We are deeply appreciative of the many individuals who have thus far joined our cause, who have contributed to helping underwrite the lawsuit. We are raised half of the amount needed.  Please encourage your friends to join in our effort.

This is our generation’s opportunity to permanently increase our children’s and grandchildren’s opportunities to experience meaningful Jewish education. If we do not try to do so, who will?

To donate to the cause, please click here.

(For further information, please contact Israel Mida at imida1818@gmail.com)

Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada. Your donations will be used for the sole purpose of underwriting the costs of the lawsuit.

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Be safe. Be well.

Shabbat shalom.

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)  

October 8, 2021

Posted in Uncategorized
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