Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Round-Up

The National Post ran a good article yesterday on the minefield John Tory has walked into with his promise to divert at least $500 million per year out of Ontario public schools and invest it in private religious schools.

This appears to be shaping up as a defining issue in this provincial election, one that will greatly help the Liberals, in my view. Except of course perhaps in Thornhill riding, where Liberal Mario Racco is facing a tough challenge from PC Peter Shurman.

On a lighter note, it seems a heck of a lot of fun was had at Liberal MP Scott Brison's wedding to Maxime St. Pierre, particularly at the reception as this article states.


Jay said...

I agree John Tory has messed up any chances of a majority with this promise but at the same time I feel the liberals still have the wrong stance on this issue. Being a strong secularist/humanist I cannot vote of Dalton this time around. This is the second consecutive election that funding for private schools have been brought up and not truly settled. I expect it will come back in 2011 as an election issue again. Dalton has the opportunity to fix this problem and it involves abolishing the current Catholic board which is discriminatory and not public as it is for catholics only. This move would increase the money available for the remaining public board through the abolition of the duplicity in administration and trustees.

The Greens support the abolition of the Catholic board.

Torian said...

I agree that dalton's stance is idiotic- surely the decision should be based in fairness..either fund all schools or fund none.

But I was thinking about something, and jay, your comment that "This move would increase the money available for the remaining public board through the abolition of the duplicity in administration and trustees" triggered it.

If we get rid of catholic school funding, how would it be done? The actual physical part, I mean.

Do the kids stay in the Catholic school building, but we take away any sign of religion? If Dalton is arguing for the "social cohesion" of only one education system, these kids would still be physically "segregated", no?

I guess we could split them amongst the neighboring schools, but that ain't gonna happen. Just taking the 2 public and 1 religious schools in our neighborhood, all of them are beyond full capacity. Sure we get the money from them if they join the public system, but all that money-and then some- would be used to build multiple 6-packs to accomodate everyone. The infrastructure costs would be ENORMOUS.

I actually think that the crux of the argument is not whether religious schools cause "segregation" and attack "social cohesion". I think it is about the teacher's unions wanting a monopoly of the one choice education system where they receive ALL the funding.

Matt Guerin said...

The difficulty with this issue is that the best solution is also the most complicated and difficult to implement. Shutting down the Catholic system - 675,000 students strong - would cause such an uproar, it might be more pain than its worth. After all, shutting down the Catholic system and integrating it with the public would be mostly an ideological move. Few politicians wish to cause that much upheaval simply to be true to their ideology. Would all the Catholic schools stay open under a unified system? How many teachers would be laid off? What about custodial staff? Administrative staff? Surely, there would be big administrative savings from converting two systems into one. But the chaos transitioning from two public systems to one would be enormous. Hence why no politicians are seriously advocating we go down that road right now (except for the Green Pary leader). This issue needs a leader who believes this is his/her legacy issue. A premier who is willing to burn all of his/her political credibility on this one issue and suffer the immense political consequences of it.

Personally, having gone through the Catholic system, I can honestly say that there wasn't much about Catholic education in the high school grades that was much different from the public system (different story in elementary years when we were too young to question Catholic teachings and just went along with the curriculum, etc.) I wrote about this issue previously on this blog.

It's entirely possible that uniting the Catholic and public systems wouldn't cause too many lay-offs (many could be given early retirement) and might not actually close many schools. It would in administration where the savings come in.

Mark Timpson said...

Interesting to watch the election start to heat up. Driving into work today I heard a new commercial from John Tory. Found them online. Its worth a listen.

Jay said...

I'm from Newfoundland and we abolished our Catholic system in the mid ninties I believe. All buildings used for schools belong to the government unless leased, even if on Catholic property. Once amalgamation was complete, schools were assessed for their condition. Decrepit buildings were abandon and all students relocated to the best schools. It has resulted in some public schools having names of Saints and some public schools are technically on church grounds but no specific religion is taught inside and the curriculum is standard.

All situations will not be the same but there is no reason why it can't be done. Its pretty open knowledge here in Ontario that both the catholic school and public school boards here are competing for enrolment in order to hold on to funding. When a catholic board has to recruit non-catholics, you know you have a problem with filling the spaces you currently have. Time to cut the bloat and downsize, especially with fewer students entering our schools every year now that we passed the double cohort.

I see know problem with lay-offs if their are no kids for them to teach or administer. Thats how you trim costs. Their would be no real uproar. The school would be catholic one day, then public the next. The only change would be no religion taught. Once thats done, you can plan to combine local schools for the next year, allocating kids to another school if necessary. Its the administration that is the problem here. Their really are not enough teachers in the public board as it is. We don't need double the number of trustees, or other admin, especially when it looks as though the Catholics got it easy by getting their own personal set. Elitism?

As for teachers wanting all the funding under a one choice school board. Thats the actual reason I see mostly for doing this. If we cut cost, more money can be injected to improve the state of schools without increasing the spending we currently allow.

I work with both school boards and I see a huge difference between these systems. The catholic schools are better equipped and in better condition, in general, due to extra sources of funding that are not subject to politicians promising tax cuts. Also within the public system, the emphasis has gotten so afr on fundraising that anything a school wants above the standard budget for operations has to come form the kids begging for cash from their neighbourhood. I have one friend who teaches in Rosedale. They have computers coming out of their wazoos and are in the 21st century. meanwhile, my husband works in one of the worst schools in Toronto for needs issues. They have nothing to work with, except 7 year old macs. 10 for about 250 kids. They try fund raising but no money in community to donate.

These kinds of a situations are disgusting. Our children are being subjected to an unfair education where kids from wealthier areas get better facilities than those from poorer with no way to fix it. This is why we need that money currently swallowed up by a duplicate board to ensure our kids are getting the same standard of education no matter where they live or what religion they are.