ONE BOARD FOR ALL

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - EDITORIAL -

Surely it is time to do away with the dual sys­tem of school board fund­ing (In Push For Fund­ing, On­tario Catholic Boards Look Be­yond Faith To En­roll More Stu­dents, Feb. 13).

It has al­ways cost tax­pay­ers more, com­pli­cat­ing ra­tio­nal plan­ning. And it dis­ad­van­tages the pub­lic sys­tem, which must ac­cept all stu­dents, re­gard­less of fam­ily back­ground, while the Catholic schools can pick and choose based, it seems, on in­ter­views with the par­ents.

Where might that leave the chil­dren of sin­gle or less-com­mit­ted par­ents, whose first lan­guage is not English, or who have be­havioural prob­lems?

Let’s have one equal, and more af­ford­able, sys­tem for all. Carol Town and Richard Har­ris Hamil­ton

Con­trary to Al­berta law pro­fes­sor Eric Adams’s views, I be­lieve that po­lit­i­cal con­di­tions are in­deed ripe to amal­ga­mate the pub­lic and Catholic school sys­tems in On­tario.

As leader of the On­tario PCs in 2007, John Tory’s mis­take was to sug­gest fund­ing all re­li­gious schools. He would have had my vote had he pro­posed fund­ing none.

It is long past time On­tario joined the mod­ern sec­u­lar world that Que­bec and New­found­land now in­habit. They couldn’t af­ford sep­a­rate sys­tems, and nei­ther can we.

Amal­ga­mat­ing the school boards is part of the Green Party plat­form for the com­ing On­tario elec­tion. Will any other po­lit­i­cal party have the courage to chal­lenge so many en­trenched stake­hold­ers for the pub­lic good? The pub­lic school sys­tem ed­u­cates all chil­dren, but Catholic boards get to pick and choose, and reap the as­so­ci­ated fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits. How is that moral or fair? Ali­son Har­vey Ot­tawa

In Man­i­toba, there is not a Catholic school sys­tem, but there is a mech­a­nism for in­de­pen­dent (non-pub­lic) schools – faith­based or not – to ex­ist, and it has been a good com­pro­mise that pre­serves both choice for par­ents and qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion.

The in­de­pen­dent schools have to fol­low the pub­lic cur­ricu­lum, and the pub­lic purse in Man­i­toba does not fund con­struc­tion or cap­i­tal up­grades of those schools, but funds each stu­dent the equiv­a­lent of half of what a pub­lic school stu­dent is funded. Those schools charge tu­ition to par­ents for the bal­ance of the money.

The sys­tem ac­tu­ally saves money for the pub­lic sys­tem and al­lows par­ents to choose which school to send their chil­dren to.

But it ain’t perfect. De­spite of­ten gen­er­ous full- and part­bur­sary pro­grams, tu­ition can be high enough that some fam­i­lies can’t af­ford to send their kids. How­ever the al­ter­na­tive of send­ing their chil­dren to a pub­lic school is not a bad one, since the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion and out­comes is usu­ally equiv­a­lent. Peter Smith Win­nipeg

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