‘Allow funding to follow all students to their school’

The research demonstrating how Ontario’s educational funding is deeply anachronistic is piling very high. By actively disregarding the best funding practices from jurisdictions throughout the free world, Queen’s Park is holding back Ontario education and Ontario students.

More evidence of this fact emerged in an op-ed entitled Let school money follow students,  written by David Hunt, education director at the think-tank Cardus, that appeared yesterday in the Financial Post.

Hunt responded directly to two questions posed earlier in the month by The Globe and Mail columnist Marsha Lederman: “In our secular society, why is any province funding religious schools? And why on Earth are we subsidizing private schools that are out of reach for most families?” Hunt suggested Lederman’s questions were rhetorical, but even if so, they were asked in earnest and reflect the thinking of other well-meaning, thoughtful, civic-minded individuals.

Hunt provided answers to from three broad perspectives: global, historical, and cultural perspectives. And it is good that he did. For his responses are factual and current. To the policy discussion about public education funding, Hunt adds up-to-date, empirically researched information. The data from Canadian and other places’ educational experiences are absent in the public conversation about public education. Rather, in their place, old assumptions and incorrect stereotypes  too commonly dominate public attitudes toward independent schools. But how can we reject facts when devising the best possible public policy? Indeed, are not facts and truth not indispensable to the formulation of public policy?

According to Hunt “in 100 countries, representing 94 per cent of the world’s population, taxpayers fund independent schools at least partially.” We reproduce the concluding paragraph from his article. He responds to the tired, no-longer-true assumptions about children who graduate from religious schools.

“A comprehensive 2021 review of the academic literature shows independent schools excel in helping students become good, engaged citizens. Religious independent schools excel at imparting and encouraging political knowledge, civic engagement, and respect for the civil liberties and opinions of others. “On almost every measure, independent-school attendance enhances civic outcomes,” says Dr. Ashley Berner, director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. “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.

Why would we want to limit the number of students who can benefit from such an education? Most especially, when all society reaps the benefits? Rather than defund religious schools, it’s time to allow funding to follow all students to their school of best fit — religious or non-religious.”

We commend Hunt’s op-ed to everyone seeking out the facts of the matter of adopting the best public educational policy. His article is an excellent starting point. Hunt makes his case on the basis of substantive comparative, cultural and historical arguments. GAJE points out however, that he avoids arguments on the basis of eliminating the blatantly unfair, unjust, discriminatory policy that is the hallmark of Ontario’s current educational funding policy.

Hunt’s article is available at:

https://financialpost.com/opinion/opinion-let-school-money-follow-students

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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 and gmar chatimah tovah.

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)

September 30, 2022

Posted in Uncategorized

On Rosh Hashana we think about building the future

This weekly update is the last one of Jewish calendar year 5782, for on Sunday night we celebrate Rosh Hashana. We usher in the year 5783.

Towards the end of his life, the late, great Rabbi Jonathan Sacks described the essence of Rosh Hashana as thinking of, securing and building the future. We cannot mend the personal ruptures of the past, which is the essence of Yom Kippur, he said, until we focus our eyes and steer our hearts toward the future. Thus, with his nugget-like, shining wisdom, Rabbi Sacks answered a question that has puzzled so many of us who think about liturgy and lore.

During the two days of Rosh Hashana, none of the Torah and Haftarah readings relate, as one might think they would, to the mysteries and wonders of Creation- which, after all, is the theme that recurs throughout the holiday’s prayers. Rather, the Mosaic and prophetic readings on both days relate specifically to children.

The Torah readings recount the births of Isaac and then, on the second day of the holiday, of Isaac’s binding and near sacrifice. The Haftarah on the first day tells of the birth of the prophet Samuel, and then on the next day concludes with a generalized plea about our children to the Jewish people by the prophet Jeremiah to “weep no more” and a promise in God’s name that  “our hard work will be rewarded. Our children will return from harm’s way. There is hope for our future. Our children will return safely to where they belong”.

It is both a small leap in logic and in literary interpretation to understand the connection between Rabbi Sack’s insight concerning the future and the very deliberate holy readings. Where our children belong is within the Jewish fold of peoplehood. As Rabbi Sacks also pointed out forcefully and eloquently so many times, the Jewish future, Jewish peoplehood, depend upon Jewish education. We secure and build that future by bringing as many youngsters as possible into the affordable possibility and sustaining domain of Jewish education. That purpose, to help build the Jewish future, is the promise of GAJE to the community.

May we be able to say at this time next year that truly affordable Jewish education in Ontario has become a closer reality for the families that seek it for their children.

Shabbat shalom and l’shana tovah techatevu v’techatemu.

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)

September 23, 2022

Posted in Uncategorized

Ontario parents deserve more school choice

This week we point to yet another op-ed written by an expert in education who calls for Ontario to reform its flawed, discriminatory, outdated educational funding practices.

Derek J. Allison, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario wrote an essay entitled, Ontario parents deserve more school choice, that appeared in The Toronto Star two years ago.

The headline, of course, encapsulates the message that Queen’s Park has been ignoring even as it has been embraced and adopted by most of the other provinces and a wide majority swath of first world, Western society in general to the enhancement of their respective educational systems.

Prof. Allison traces the history of Ontario’s unyielding educational fixation, explaining how it is that the government pointedly discrimination against non-Catholic families and turns a blind eye to the documented evidence that the educational status quo actually holds back all Ontario schools from achieving higher overall educational outcomes.

“The story began in 1984,” Allison writes, “when then-premier Bill Davis famously extended public funding to senior grades in Ontario’s Catholic separate high schools, which previously operated as private schools. To be even-handed, Davis also established the Shapiro Commission to consider whether other private schools should receive government funding.”

“Ultimately, Shapiro recommended limited funding for private schools (that satisfied appropriate standards) and extensive regulatory reforms. “

Indeed, the educational funding today in all of the western provinces and in Quebec effectively follow the approach recommended by Prof. Shapiro. Allison briefly describes how subsequent Ontario governments have steered an educational funding course very far away from the Shapiro recommendations.

Prof. Allison does not spare past and current Ontario governments. He refers to a study by the Fraser Institute published contemporaneously to his article demonstrating how “Ontario has maintained a laissez-faire policy toward non-government schools for more than a century. Meanwhile, other provinces, states and countries have moved toward tax-supported hybrid systems, which offer parents and students choice between government-run and independently operated schools. Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec and Saskatchewan all fund independent schools, which operate with varying degrees of autonomy and government support, and 29 U.S. states operate more than 60 different tax credit- and tax-supported school choice programs. All major European countries fund non-government schools.

“As such, school choice has increasingly been accepted as a parental right. Consequently, the government-supported conditional choices between public, separate, English- and French-language schools currently available in Ontario are woefully lacking. All parents should have the freedom to send their children to the schools they believe best suit their needs, talents and heritage. Research shows this not only benefits families choosing non-government schools, but it helps improve public schools. School choice is a tide that raises all boats.”

The point cannot be overstated. Ontario’s educational system should be changed to respect and accommodate all parents in the province seeking to provide their children the education – in the words of Prof. Allison – that best suits their needs, talents and heritage.

Prof. Allison’s article is available at:

https://www.fraserinstitute.org/article/ontario-parents-deserve-more-school-choice

•••

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)

September 16, 2022

Posted in Uncategorized

Ontario parents deserve the same options as parents in Quebec and the West

For more than seven years, GAJE has called public attention to the discrimination at the heart of Ontario’s system of educational funding. That the public treasury supports the education of one religious group in the province to the exclusion of all others is deeply offensive to conscience. It is also an affront to our society’s professed loyalty to the protection of the human rights that are enshrined in the sinew and bone of our democratic values.

Or it should be. But the provincial government seems indifferent to the injustice it continues to mete out to a large number of Ontarians. Despite the patent unfairness of the current system, despite the evidence that the government’s approach to public education no longer represents the best educational systemic funding practices, despite the evidence that the government’s approach may actually impede higher educational outcomes, Queen’s Park refuses to change its anachronistic, hardscrabble ways.

But many others, expert in the discipline of Education, increasingly point to the obvious flaw embedded in Ontario’s educational system that drags it down even as it drags down Ontario’s reputation as a place where the human rights of all groups are truly respected.

Michael Zwaagstra, a public high school teacher, and a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute, recently published an article in the Financial Post that makes the case for Ontario extending funds to independent schools.  The following are excerpts of his opinion piece.

“Ontario parents who want to choose independent schools remain at a significant disadvantage compared to parents in several other provinces. Unlike the four western provinces and Quebec, Ontario provides no financial support for parents choosing independent schools. Parents are on their own.

“But what such aid [funding to independent schools] is really about is letting money follow the student. All parents pay taxes, no matter where their children attend school. So, it makes sense that parents should have the ability to direct at least some of their tax dollars to schools of their choice, whether public, Catholic or independent.

“As for concerns about subsidizing religion, the province already provides 100 per cent funding for Catholic schools. Unless you think Catholics are inherently more worthy of government support than people of other faiths, it makes no sense to deny funding to independent schools because of their religious (or non-religious) affiliation. And there’s no evidence that British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec are more balkanized or divided than Ontario, even though all five of these provinces have long funded independent schools.

“There’s also a major fiscal benefit. When funding follows the student, taxpayers can save money. Most provinces that fund independent schools provide only partial (usually 50 per cent) funding for each independent school student. The rest of the budget for these schools comes from private donations and/or tuition fees. In other words, these provinces get a 50 per cent discount for every student in an independent school — not an unimportant fact for Ontario, which has run budget deficits for 15 years in a row.

“Though government pays less than the full freight, public funding allows tuition fees to be lower, making independent schools available to a wider group of parents. And independent schools have a strong track record of providing a solid academic education and can offer more specialized programming than is typically available in the government-run system. No one can seriously argue that kids need to attend government-run schools these days to receive a quality education.

“Ontario parents deserve the same options as parents in Quebec and the western provinces..… Letting the money follow the student is sensible and fair. Making more education options available to parents and students is always a good thing.”

GAJE wholeheartedly agrees with Mr. Zwaagstra. We hope you do to.

The complete Zwaagstra article is available at:

https://financialpost.com/opinion/michael-zwaagstra-ontario-should-help-fund-independent-schools

•••

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)

September 9, 2022

Posted in Uncategorized

School returns

Our children return to school next week. In some cases, they will be attending school for the first time. Whether as “veterans” or as first-timers, along with their lunches, most will bring with them pockets full of excitement, worries, wonders and nerves. Parents and grandparents might feel the same way.

The start of the school year is an appropriate occasion to thank our students, their teachers, and the staff of all the schools for being involved in the collective enterprise we call Jewish Day School education. Together, they demonstrably reaffirm their commitment to a Jewish future even as they extend a gesture of gratitude and respect to generations past. 

Daniel Held, the chief program officer of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, has often spoken about the importance of Jewish day school education. “It looks toward the future and says, ‘How can we have the strongest, most vibrant, most vital Jewish community?’ And decades, if not centuries, of research and experience shows that by educating our kids today, we strengthen the community of the future, we create both a knowledgeable and passionate community and we also create empowered leaders.”

Of course, a day school education is not the only way to instill in our children a commitment to the Jewish future. But study after study show it offers the best chance for doing so. Jewish Day School education provides the richest immersive experience in Jewish knowledge and folkways within a social environment that is supportive and caring. It thus can also become a powerful foreshadowing for our children of mutually sustaining community life in the years to come, instilling in them expansive, positive, personal feelings of belonging to the Jewish people.

To all of our children we say: Good luck next week. May it be the beginning of a wonderful year for you and your friends. And we also say, again: Thank you.

•••

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)

September 2, 2022

Posted in Uncategorized

The evidence suggests more choice is the better policy

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:

https://financialpost.com/opinion/opinion-canada-needs-school-choice

•••

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 26, 2022

Posted in Uncategorized

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/

•••

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

•••

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

Posted in Uncategorized

Better able to catch the ear and the conscience of the government?

As we advised readers two weeks ago, the Governments of Ontario and Canada responded to our legal effort to end discrimination in educational funding by bringing a motion to strike down our application even before the courts have had the opportunity to consider it upon its merits.

The governments’ motion to strike was postponed until April 20, 2023 to allow the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools (OFIS) to seek permission from the court for leave to intervene as a “friend of the court” (amicus curiae) in the case that GAJE and other individuals have launched against the governments. OFIS’ request is scheduled to be heard on October 3, 2022. If OFIS is granted permission to “join” the lawsuit, one assumes it will also have the right to oppose the governments’ attempt to strike down our action.

Currently, 1,556 independent schools are registered in Ontario. They are attended by 150,666 students, or 6.9% of all students enrolled in the province.

OFIS was established in 1974. It is the largest independent school association in Ontario with 97 affiliated schools. It is also the most diverse independent school association in the province with membership from faith-based schools, culturally-based schools, alternative educational (pedagogical) schools, special needs and neurodiverse schools, community-based schools, and arts & athletics schools.

Of course, GAJE wishes the adjournment of the motion to strike were for a shorter period of time but we understand that the courts are still dealing with severe administrative backlog wrought by COVID. On the other hand, we effusively welcome the attempt by OFIS to try to make its views also known in court regarding the governments’ discriminatory educational funding policies.

If OFIS is granted standing to participate in the case, the collective voices pleading for a remedy to the injustice of Ontario’s educational funding scheme will be deeper, broader and more representative of the widely multi-cultural swath of parents who send their children to school in this province too.

Perhaps, in that case, the pleas for justice will be better able to catch the ear and the conscience of the government?

•••

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 12, 2022

Posted in Uncategorized

Independent school children also need to “catch up”

Last week, Ontario’s Ministry of Education announced a post-Covid “Plan to Catch Up” for the upcoming school year.

“Our government is looking ahead as we remain squarely focused on ensuring students receive the best stable learning experience possible, and that starts with them being in class, on time, with all of the experiences students deserve,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

According to the ministry’s press release, the plan includes five key components:

  1. Getting kids back in classrooms in September, on time, with a full school experience that includes extra-curriculars like clubs, band, and field trips;
  2. New tutoring supports to fill gaps in learning;
  3. Preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow;
  4. Providing more money to build schools and improve education; and
  5. Helping students with historic funding for mental health supports.

The press release touted the government’s financial investment in the educational system that entailed more than $26.6 billion in funding for the 2022-23 school year, “the highest investment in public education in Ontario’s history.” This amount included “allocating $90 million for mental health initiatives and supports for students.” The press release also listed various showcase spending programs for tutoring, special educational grants, students at risk, and capital grants.

The government also highlighted specifically earmarked Covid-protection initiatives. “Since August 2020, more than $665 million has been allocated to improve ventilation and filtration in schools as part of the province’s efforts to protect against COVID-19.” Unfortunately, the release does not tell the whole story about Covid protection in Ontario schools. It omits mentioning that the federal government gave Queen’s Park $763 million for the express purpose of making schools Covid safe for all Ontario children aged 4-18, even children attending independent schools in the province. Yet, Ontario disbursed not one dime to any of the independent schools in the province.

We are pleased that Ontario is investing richly in its schools. It is important beyond description that the government do so. Ontario is the most populous province in the country and its industrial heartland. Educational investment is vital to the province, the country and to all Canadians. But Ontario’s investment is neither appropriate nor adequate. Indeed, until Ontario includes funding for children in independent schools – as the next five largest provinces do – it never will be. Let no-one believe that the impediment to extending funding to independent schools is financial. Cardus, the independent think-tank, put paid to that notion. In its ground breaking study released last September, Cardus recorded “the hypothetical economic costs of funding Ontario’s independent schools if the province were to fully fund the sector or apply any of the partial-funding models in Canada.”

Cardus concluded that applying three different attendance scenarios to each of the seven provincial funding schemes that exist in Canada, the cost to Ontario would range “between $535.2 million and $1.539 billion in net annual cost to Ontario taxpayers. For context, within the scope of Ontario’s $186 billion annual budget, this is around 1/3 to 4/5 of 1 percent (0.3% to 0.8%) of the budget. In other words, any of these funding options is a relatively minimal cost to substantially benefit the families who need it most.”

In providing this comprehensive potential educational funding picture, Cardus noted  that

“funding (independent schools) is the norm around the world, as well as in Canada. Globally, 73 percent of countries at least partially fund independent schools—only one OECD country does not. In Canada outside Ontario, 75 percent of independent schools and 84 percent of independent-school students are partially publicly funded.

“Ontario’s lack of funding is anomalous in both a global and Canadian context.”

Cardus’s observation regarding Ontario’s educational funding must be emphasized: Ontario is the outlier in Canada and in the Western world.

The impediment to Ontario extending funding to independent schools is political. And it is entirely inexplicable since it is based on old, tired, incorrect and anachronistic information.

Despite the soaring rhetoric and the flowing self-congratulations in last week’s press release, Ontario’s educational system fails to match the overall excellence of the five next largest provinces. It fails the tax-paying independent school families whose children also need to “catch up” from the lapses of the past Covid years. And perhaps worst of all, by the government’s refusal to erase the line of discrimination that cuts through and across the educational system in the province, it fails to give true meaning to the values of fairness and justice embedded in Ontario’s very democratic ethos.

•••

As readers know, GAJE has launched an application in court to eliminate Ontario’s discrimination in educational funding. If you wish to contribute to the lawsuit, 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 5, 2022

Posted in Uncategorized

Disappointment deepens as society is diminished

This week we update our supporters and readers of this space on the status of our action against the governments of Ontario and Canada aimed at persuading Ontario’s to end its unfair educational funding policies.

On February 8, 2022 GAJE and a number of individuals applied to the Ontario Superior Court for an order directing the governments of Ontario and Canada to provide payments to each of the Jewish day schools in Ontario based on a per capita grant calculated from the student population of those schools equal to the per capita grant for Roman Catholic day schools.

The attorneys-general of Ontario and Canada responded to GAJE’s application on March 28 by filing a motion that the court strike our application as disclosing no cause of action.

It is the view of the Federal Government that it has no legal or constitutional role to play in an educational dispute between the applicants and the Government of Ontario. It is the view of Queen’s Park that the 1996 Supreme Court Adler decision allows Ontario to refuse to fund independent schools.

It is our view that the Federal Government does indeed have a role to play in ensuring the true application of human rights obligations across Canada under ratified international treaty law. It is also our point of view that Ontario ought to acknowledge that Canadian society and Canadian law have evolved since the Adler case of 1996 to such an extent that a different decision on funding Jewish day schools is not only possible but morally appropriate and even required in the year 2022. Our case has merit. We fervently hope it will be allowed to go forward to a full hearing on those merits. The governments prefer to prevent rather than join discussion in open court on so important an educational and human rights matter. This merely blights Ontario’s reputation in comparison with the reputations of the other Canadian provinces. And of course, it deepens disappointment as it continues to diminish Ontario society.

The governments’ motion to strike is scheduled to be heard on August 9, 2022. In the event the motion succeeds, we have the right to appeal the decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal. We will keep you informed as the case proceeds.

This lawsuit is a vital investment in our children and in our Jewish future. We are deeply grateful for your understanding and for your support.

•••

If you wish to contribute to funding GAJE’s lawsuit, 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)

July 29, 2022

Posted in Uncategorized
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Parents Tell Their Stories

We would like to share personal stories about how the affordability issue has affected families in our community. We will post these stories anonymously on our Facebook page and on our website.

We will not include any personal information such as names, schools, other institutions, or any other identifying information. We reserve the right to edit all submissions.

To share your story, either send us a message on our Facebook page or email us @ info @ gaje.ca.

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