Last week, we reported on the publication of the study by Cardus, the public policy think tank, entitled Naturally Diverse: The Landscape of Independent Schools in Ontario. The study is a timely work of research that provides current, detailed data of Ontario’s independent schools. The report’s authors – David Hunt, Joanna DeJong VanHof and Jenisa Los – enable the public to understand exactly who and what the province’s independent schools are. Equally important, they enable officials to make public policy based upon fact, not myth and in the process, put paid to the harmful, false notion that extending any funds to independent schools is to provide taxpayer funds to the well-heeled families of the province’s elite schools.
The study is a seminal work focused solely on independent schools in Ontario. It ought to be read by the Minister of Education, his ministry policy officials, his personal staff and by every Member of the Provincial Parliament.
Because of its importance, we shall refer this week as well to some of the key introductory remarks by the authors. They identify a number of core questions that the study explores:
• What types and subtypes of independent schools make up the sector?
• What is the purpose of these schools?
• How do they differentiate themselves?
• What is the nature of independent schools?
• Why do they exist?
The authors examine where the schools are located and how they deliver their education, along with other key factors that define Ontario’s independent-school landscape.
There is no doubt that more parents are choosing independent schools for the unique learning and educational needs of their children. The report notes that over the past two decades, enrolment in Ontario’s independent schools has increased from 4.1 percent of total K–12 provincial enrolment to 7 percent.
The authors conclusively prove that independent schools are a multi-purpose, multi-faceted, multi-pedagogical tapestry of diverse families and students. They are definitively NOT a bastion of elite, top tier schools. Merely 61 of the 1,445 independent schools—4.2 percent— are “top tier” schools.
As with the community’s day schools, the authors state without ambiguity that “independent schools in Ontario are typically non-profit charities that are financed entirely by tuition fees and donation. …No public funding is provided to independent schools in Ontario.”
The empirically unassailable information contained in this report calls to conscience.
How can Ontario simply ignore the families and the children in independent schools? How can Ontario prefer and support the education of only one religious group in the province to the exclusion of the others? What does Ontario’s unjust, unfair, anachronistic education funding policy say about the province’s true loyalty to our charter of rights and freedoms?
The full report can be found at:
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Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)
December 2, 2022