The separate school system up for discussion

By  Catholic Register Staff
  • December 1, 2006

TORONTO - Ontario's Catholic community is embarking on another all-embracing discussion about the "distinctiveness, value and the future of Catholic education." The plan for the province-wide consultation was announced Nov. 25 at a symposium organized by the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE).

"In these exciting but also challenging days, it is essential that all of us who are committed to ensuring a strong Catholic education system take some time together to think and to talk about the nature and value of our Catholic schools, to understand the challenges facing them, and to share our hopes and dreams for the future of the system," said Carol Devine of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association (OCSTA).

To that end, ICE, with the help of the Catholic bishops, teachers, principals, administrators, parents and trustees, are launching the Our Catholic Schools 2006-2007 Discussion. The talks will repeat a similar exercise done in 2003.

ICE has developed a discussion kit that will be distributed across the province and used by school boards and others to run public discussions. Information from these discussions will be compiled to write reports on the status of Catholic education at the local level. The local reports will then be used to develop a provincial report.

Devine said the consultations were to begin right away and are expected to be completed by March. The board reports are to be finished by May and sent to ICE, which will compile the provincial report for release in the fall.

The discussion will focus on five general points:

  • the distinctiveness of Catholic schools;
  • what Catholics value about their schools;
  • their hopes;
  • the major issues facing the school system;
  • promoting and protecting Catholic education in the future.

Devine urged the education community to take their discussion outside their own circles to include the rest of the Catholic community.

"We encourage you also to extend the invitation beyond the education community, to your pastors, religious communities, parishes and Catholic organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Women's League," she said.

Devine hoped the discussion will help create "a well-informed, energized and articulate Catholic community."

"This will be particularly important in the period leading up to the next provincial election (scheduled for October 2007), when issues around the governance and future of Catholic education may again be raised. Should the need arise, as a result of the Our Catholic Schools discussion, thousands of voices across our province will be ready to speak up for Catholic education."

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