Cardus proposes change in funding

By 
  • June 12, 2020

OTTAWA -- Myths that independent schools in Ontario are bastions of privilege are getting in the way of an education funding model that is “fair and flexible” in Canada’s largest province, an Ontario-based religious think tank says.

The Christian think tank Cardus is calling on Ontario’s provincial government to look to “progressive” Europe for how government-run schools — both public and Catholic — and independent schools complement each other.

In a policy paper report released on May 25 called “Flexible Education in an Age of Disruption,” Cardus suggests the province allocate education funding on a per student basis that would allow parents to use that money to help pay for the cost of schooling their child at an independent school.

According to Cardus, government financial support for independent schools in much of Europe is the norm. In Canada, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec all provide some independent schools that qualify with partial funding of on average 50 per cent of the government-run schools’ annual per-student operating costs.

“Ontario needs to introduce a fair and flexible model of education funding, letting funding follow each student to the school that best meets their needs,” Cardus said in a release.

But for those who work in the public school system in Ontario, which includes a government-funded Catholic school system, the possibility of diverting some funds from the public school system towards independent schools is a non-starter.

While Liz Stuart, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, supports more education funding, it is where that funding goes that is the key point.

“Our association believes unequivocally that publicly-funded, publicly-delivered education is the most effective, efficient and equitable option for Ontario’s students,” Stuart said.

“We certainly support increased investments in education, particularly for our most vulnerable students, but we could not support any policy that would see resources diverted away from public schools,” she said.

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