Opponents of the idea that Queen’s Park underwrite part or all of the cost of independent schools maintain that such a policy would undermine the public school system. They make this charge despite ongoing, documented evidence to the contrary from other jurisdictions, for example, here in Canada. Six provinces – excluding Ontario and the Atlantic provinces – contribute funding to the cost of running independent schools. By doing so, those provinces enhance public school choice for parents even as they raise the quality of educational outcomes.
Last month, Michael Van Pelt, president and CEO of think-tank Cardus, wrote an op-ed on this very subject that appeared in the Calgary Herald. The article is entitled Public school choice in Alberta is better for our students and our society. Whereas GAJE continues to point to the patent unfairness and injustice of Ontario’s education funding, Van Pelt confronts the factually unfounded arguments of funding opponents as a matter of policy enhancement substantively and pragmatically. He writes from the specific context of Alberta, but his observations and conclusions apply to Ontario as well. In Alberta (and in five other provinces as well) the terms “public schools and public education” encompass much more than government-run schools. That should also be the case in Ontario.
We provide excerpts from Van Pelt’s op-ed.
(The full article is available at: https://calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-public-school-choice-in-alberta-is-better-for-our-students-and-our-society)
“By funding them (other than government-run schools) in different ways and to different degrees, Albertans recognize that allowing parents to find the best fit for their child(ren) is in the public interest. These options are all part of public education. Funding them or allowing them to expand will improve public education, not undermine it.”
“Different students thrive in different learning environments. Parents and teachers know this intuitively and from experience. We also see it confirmed in research that finds students do better in math and reading when there is a “good fit” between student and school. Often, this happens in a charter or independent school.”
“Alberta parents choose independent schools for various reasons including the supportive learning environment, safety, and the kind of curriculum offered. Let’s also remember that most independent schools in Alberta are operated by non-profit organizations, charities or religious organizations. In fact, to receive taxpayer funding, they must be not for profit.”
“Meanwhile, all of us benefit from the independent school sector. Research shows that graduates of independent and home-schools demonstrate greater civic engagement and volunteerism. And expanding the independent school sector would also put Alberta in line with most European nations. OECD data demonstrate that having more publicly funded, non-governmental schools actually reduces economic inequality. Some of the primary examples of this are the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. This means most European nations have found a way to reduce social divisions by making more school options affordable for more families, even those with low incomes.
“More pluralism, not less should be the order of the day — for our students and ultimately for our society. It’s better for everybody.”
If you wish to contribute to the funding of GAJE’s lawsuit to achieve fairness and justice in education funding in Ontario, please click here.
For further information, please contact Israel Mida at email@example.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.
Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE),
April 8, 2022