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to yet another op-ed written by an expert in education who calls for Ontario to reform its flawed, discriminatory, outdated educational funding practices.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:
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Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)
September 16, 2022