Catholic Education

TORONTO - Screams of support welcomed the Toronto Marlies March 7 as 4,500 Catholic students from the GTA cheered an 11 a.m. faceoff against the Binghamton Senators at the Ricoh Coliseum.

Students were allowed to cut class to catch the American Hockey League game between the minor-league affiliates of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, learn about healthy living and raise money for the Angel Foundation for Learning. Attending schools raised about $10,000 as a portion from each ticket sold went to the charity.

Most Quebeckers oppose mandatory nature of Ethics and Religious Culture program

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OTTAWA - Most Quebeckers oppose the compulsory nature of the province's controversial Ethics and Religious Culture program (ERC), with 29 per cent saying it should be "scrapped altogether" in favour of improved mathematics or French-language courses.

In a Leger Marketing poll conducted for the Coalition for Freedom in Education (CLÉ), only four out of 10 Quebeckers want the controversial course to stay mandatory. A quarter would keep the course but make it optional.

The poll also discovered 55 per cent of Quebeckers would prefer the government introduce school vouchers that would allocate a fixed amount for educational funding per child that parents could use to choose the school they wish, whether public or private, CLÉ said in a March 7 news release.

Court overturns conflict conviction against TCDSB trustee Kennedy

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TORONTO - The Ontario Divisional Court has cleared Toronto Catholic school trustee Angela Kennedy of conflict-of-interest charges.

The court overturned a 2010 Ontario Superior Court verdict that found Kennedy guilty of a conflict stemming from a May 2008 school board budget meeting where she had voted against staff layoffs. The 2010 decision ruled her vote may have affected two of her sons who were employed by the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

The appellate court ruled March 5 that any economic interests Kennedy may have gained by voting against the cuts were minimal and unlikely to influence her vote.

Best Buy grant brings $20,000 for Beamsville school

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Beamsville, Ont.'s St. John Catholic Elementary School is one of 12 schools from across the country that will enhance its technological capabilities thanks to a $20,000 grant from Best Buy Canada.

The money will be used to upgrade outdated technology at the school in the small town located just west of St. Catharines, Ont.

"We are very excited and we think it is going to be very beneficial to our students," said Michael Maiorano, Grade 5 teacher at St. John. "Technology is always going out and you always need new technology and we think that is beneficial to our students."

OECTA says McGuinty video problematic for negotiations

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Premier Dalton McGuinty’s public call for the province’s teachers to “do their part” in helping slay Ontario’s deficit will only harm the bargaining process, says the head of the Catholic teachers’ union.  

In a recent YouTube video appearance, McGuinty asked Ontario teachers to accept a two-year wage freeze and a modified sick-leave plan in an effort to reduce the $16 billion provincial deficit in a way that preserves small class sizes and all-day kindergarten.

Evangelicals defend Catholics over GSA bill

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OTTAWA - The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) warns that Ontario’s anti-bullying Bill 13 could violate the rights of Catholic and private religious schools if it requires them to act contrary to their beliefs.

In an 18-page resource for parents, the EFC praises the approach taken by the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association’s Respecting Difference policy because it “addresses all forms of bullying equally” and complies with existing federal and provincial human rights laws.

Bill 13 requires all publicly funded schools to have gay-straight alliances, it says. Though the schools may use a different name, the groups must be issue-specific.

Fatima students witness to Christ in aiding Attawapiskat brethren

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TORONTO - There is the poverty, the high cost of food, lack of clean water and acceptable housing, the lack of concern for the people’s wellbeing, the high rate of disease and of course the whole situation around the school. Nobody has the silver bullet that will fix education in Attiwapiskat in northern Ontario.

But that doesn’t mean we do nothing. Mother Teresa most often gets credit for telling us that we’re not called to be successful. We’re called to be faithful.

As a Toronto Catholic District School Board teacher, I’ve been working with Attawapiskat for 10 years. It started when I was a literacy resource teacher heading up our early reading intervention program. The principal of Attiwapiskat’s JR Nakogee School contacted me. The challenge at his school was and still is raising the literacy skills.

Lent a time of action at Marshall McLuhan

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TORONTO - Students at Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School in Toronto began Lent with a purpose. The 1,000-plus students at the midtown school are raising money to combat child sexual slavery.

Jesuit Father Len Altilia told the students Lent should make us want to reach out to the helpless, particularly the women and children who suffer most from violence and sexual exploitation.

"It's not just an act of charity," said Altilia. "It is an act of faith and an act of justice."

Ontario's teachers, trustees brace for cuts after Drummond report

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TORONTO - Full-day kindergarten may be off limits to the Drummond chainsaw, but Ontario’s Catholic schools are still bracing for a lean season.

The Drummond Commission On the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services was commissioned by Premier Dalton McGuinty and released Feb. 15. In it, TD Bank chief economist Don Drummond recommends dozens of cuts to education funding. That’s never good news for Catholic schools, said Paul Whitehead, Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association senior policy advisor for finance. Less money means less flexibility for school boards.

London Catholic board seeking input on values, mission

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The London District Catholic School Board will be holding an input session Feb. 29 allowing community members a voice on the values, vision and mission of the Catholic education system.

“We thought the best way to see if we are on track was to go back to our various constituencies and let them tell us how they think we are doing,” said Philip Squire, chair of the London Catholic board. “The challenge will be to talk to people about expectation versus what reality is.”

OECTA comes out in favour of GSAs

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TORONTO - The union representing 45,000 Ontario Catholic teachers has no objection to gay-straight alliances operating in Catholic schools. The Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association says GSA format as developed in the United States is in conflict with Catholic teaching, and that anti-homophobia clubs in Catholic schools should be called Respecting Difference.

Both sides say there is no conflict between these two positions.

"There's really no difference between OECTA's stance and our stance on serving the needs of all of our students, including those with same-sex attraction or gender-identity issues," said OCSTA president Nancy Kirby.