Annalisa Crudo-Perri, second from right, is president of OAPCE, the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education, and is seen here with other members at its recent annual conference. Photo courtesy of OAPCE

Parents make voices heard

By 
  • May 4, 2019

OAPCE has been the voice for Catholic parents in Ontario’s education system for 80 years and it has no intention of letting that voice go unheard.

With the system facing a belt-tightening provincial government, and the always present call to merge Catholic boards to create one huge public system, it’s a voice that is needed perhaps more than ever.

“We are the parent voice and we want to ensure it is heard by this administration,” said Annalisa Crudo-Perri, president of the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education (OAPCE). “Education is an investment in our students’ success in our global economy.”

In a time when the education system is showing signs of returning to the turbulent days last seen when Mike Harris’ Conservatives were in power at Queen’s Park in the 1990s, some might see the need for a calming influence in education matters. Crudo-Perri, however, believes it’s the kids in the classroom who will lose out, hence the need for a strong Catholic voice.

“If anything now is the time to stir up those waters and ensure that our system and our children’s education in a publicly-funded Catholic board resists the erosion that we see happening before our eyes,” she said. “We recognize that each administration has to demonstrate fiscal responsibility of the public purse but doing so on the backs of children and educators is not something that we can accept quietly.”

In reality, it’s not much different from what OAPCE has done since its founding in 1939. It’s the only provincial parent association representing parents in the publicly funded English Catholic education system recognized by the Ministry of Education and has input on a number of ministry initiatives such as curriculum review, the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat and student success initiatives. It’s in regular communication with education partners like the teachers’ union, the principals’ association and Ontario’s school trustees and is an active member of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fully Alive review, while also being an equal partner on the Institute of Catholic Education’s board of directors, curriculum review and symposium planning committees.

Crudo-Perri said that over the past decade, OAPCE’s board has become more vocal.

“We decided we needed to do that in this uneasy time,” she said.

That has meant increased representation, stronger linkages to partners and more engagement with parents across the province.

OAPCE plans to continue this engagement, especially with the ongoing debate over whether the Catholic boards should be forced to merge with the public system.

“One singly-funded education system is always looming as a threat,” said Crudo-Perri, and that has strengthened OAPCE’s resolve to be a champion of Catholic education. That means ensuring that that there is always “the vital connection between home, school and parish.”

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