In last week’s update we stated that we believe the Minister of Education bases its discriminatory educational funding policy on “outdated, incorrect information and upon now-dispelled myths about public funding for independent schools.”
Prof. Vincent Geloso, assistant professor of economics at George Mason University and senior economist at the Montreal Economic Institute, indirectly confirmed parts of our assessment in an opinion piece published this week by The Financial Post. Entitled, Canada needs school choice,
Prof. Geloso criticizes the tired, reflexive responses by politicians whenever they attempt to respond to the latest crisis in student performance and school management.
“New crises prompt political actors to request further rounds of new investments, reinvestments, refinancing, improved financing — the slogans change but the strategy is always to try to secure improvements in educational outcomes by increasing the quantity of inputs used,” Prof. Geloso wrote. He is clearly not impressed by the policy predictability usually dictated by political expedience.
Geloso pleads with Ministry of Education policy makers to abandon the routine responses in favour of the effective ones.
“The literature clearly shows that systems that decentralize management to the local level, introduce choice and exit options for parents and create local feedback mechanisms (such as participating in school associations) heighten the efficiency of any given spending level. In such systems, the state generally disengages from producing the service and concentrates solely on financing it — in ways tied to parental choices.”
“This makes sense for a variety of reasons. First, as a rule, “one-size-fits-all” policies tend to yield disappointing outcomes for heterogenous populations. Second, parental involvement tends to be higher in decentralized systems, and this creates a positive feedback loop between school administrators and local populations. Third, tying funding to parental choices gives parents an exit option, which in turn generates strong incentives for schools to provide higher-quality customization.”
He concludes unequivocally that meaningful increases in parental choice and school autonomy tend to yield positive performance outcomes. “The bulk of the empirical literature in the economics of education suggests that policies that improve parental choice and school autonomy provide better ways to spend. The only question is how to adapt school choice and autonomy to each Canadian province’s circumstances for the benefit of parents and students across the country.”
Prof. Geloso strongly implies that bringing fairness in educational funding in Ontario, will also improve the overall quality of the educational system in Ontario. If only the Minister of Education would ask his advisors to provide him with the empirical literature to which Geloso refers.
Some years ago, Charles Pascal, the former education advisor to then-premier Dalton McGuinty described the current educational system in Ontario as anachronistic. Geloso would clearly agree with him. But Geloso would go one meaningful step further: He offers remedial steps to make it up-to-date and far better. More choice for parents is clearly the better educational policy.
The Geloso article is available at:
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Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)
August 26, 2022