The truths about independent schools the government seems not to know

As readers of the GAJE weekly update know, the Government of Ontario steadfastly resists making its educational funding policies apply equally, without discrimination or preference, to all Ontario’s children, including those who learn in independent schools.

Indeed, the government brought a motion last week to strike out GAJE’s lawsuit that seeks to end this discrimination even before the courts have had an opportunity to consider our arguments. The court adjourned the motion until April next year to allow the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools to seek leave of the court to join the lawsuit in support of the same funding fairness and justice that GAJE seeks.

Part of this obstinate refusal, we believe, is based upon the fact that the Minister of Education bases its policy on outdated, incorrect information and upon now-dispelled myths about public funding for independent schools.

David Hunt, the Program Director for Cardus Education, published a brief article last month in The Hub.ca that could be a stepping stone for the Minister of Education, toward the embrace of updated, correct information on the subject.

The article was entitled Religious Independent Schools Are a Win-Win for Students and Society.

Hunt makes the point that “more educational pluralism, not less” is how societies “educate for the common good” and “meet the concerns of cohesion while honouring our differences.”

Hunt categorically asserts that there is a great deal of research that proves denominational and non-denominational independent schools strengthen social cohesion.

According to Hunt, “a recent survey of the academic literature finds that, after controlling for family background, the evidence overwhelmingly dispels fears of independent schools’ negative effect on civic life. In fact, independent-school attendance actually enhances political knowledge and tolerance, civic engagement, and civic skills. Of the 34 credible studies on independent and state schools’ effects on civic outcomes, there are 86 separate statistically significant findings. Of those, 50 findings reveal a clear independent-school advantage, 33 find neutral effects, and only three show a state-school advantage.”

“In other words, independent schools—most of which are religious—are considerably more likely to enhance the civic capabilities of young people and lead, eventually, to a more civically integrated and politically engaged public.”

The results of these various studies unequivocally refute the myths that public funding for independent schools is a threat to the multicultural framework of our society or to the vibrancy of the public school system. In fact, the opposite is true.

To reinforce the anachronistic nature of Ontario’s system of educational funding, Hunt adds: “By the way, most of the world already understands this. In fact, the norm is for governments to publicly fund independent schools, including religious ones, to varying degrees. Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Singapore, and every province west of Ontario are all examples. Given that religious independent schools contribute to the common good, serve the public interest by strengthening civility and social cohesion, and also greatly improve the reading and math abilities of religious students, why wouldn’t we all be supportive? It is a win-win to let parents use the education dollars allocated for their children in the school where they can best thrive.”

The question Hunt poses – why wouldn’t support allocating public education dollars for independent schools – demands an answer. The most charitable answer is that the government seems not to be aware of the truths regarding independent schools and society. If however, the government is indeed aware of these empirical truths and yet persists in its discrimination, then the only answer that stands in the light is too shameful to consider.

Hunt’s article is available at: https://thehub.ca/2022-07-19/david-hunt-religious-independent-schools-are-a-win-win-for-students-and-society/

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We draw readers’ attention to an article co-authored by Sarena Koschitzky of Toronto that appeared last month on the ejewishphilanthropy site. Entitled, Making Big Bets on Jewish Day Schools, Koschitzky and her co-author Ann Pava, of West Hartford, Connecticut, introduce to the philanthropic community an approach to charitable giving called Big Bets Philanthropy.

Koschitzky and Pava explain purpose and nature of Big Bets Philanthropy and then add “Jewish day schools promise and deliver the kind of social change that can and should attract Big Bets philanthropy. Together, day school supporters and community leaders can help articulate opportunities that will bring funders the kind of pride and joy” that is inherent in the Big Bets approach to philanthropy.

Sarena Koschitzky, of course, is well-credentialed to write about the subject. No family has contributed more to the permanence of Jewish education in our community – and in some respects around the Jewish world – than Sarena Koschitzky’s family. Indeed, her late mother, Julie, was the highest exemplar, the avatar so to speak, of a day school supporter and a community leader.

The article can be read at: https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/making-big-bets-for-jewish-day-schools/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Your%20Daily%20Phil%20Monday%20July%2025%202022%20copy%2001&utm_content=Your%20Daily%20Phil%20Monday%20July%2025%202022%20copy%2001+CID_d5a1f3177d439827841b2ea6cec8db5c&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Read%20the%20full%20piece%20here

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If you wish to contribute to GAJE’s lawsuit for fairness in educational funding, 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.

Shabbat shalom

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)

August 19, 2022

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