Faith Based Funding In Schools Is More A Matter Of Choice Than Of Religion

I am not as surprised at the opposition to faith based funding from the loonie left as I am surprised at the opposition from some on the right of the political spectrum and let me explain why.

John Tory’s plan to bring in equal funding for faith based schools is not a matter of religion in my opinion. It is more a matter of choice. Right now in Ontario, the province dictates to us (with few special exceptions) what our publicly funded school choices are. i.e. they draw the lines and determine what school zone our children fall into and then pretty much mandate that the children go there.

This undermines one of the tenets of conservatism and that is the freedom to choose. Those of us on the right promote privatization of many things because it leads to competition and that competition leads to the best rising to the top and the worst either faltering or changing their practices to be more competitive.

If we offer public funding to put all school systems on the same level, then those that perform better will be chosen far more often by parents who don’t care about anything except for what is best for their children. It is this choice that will break the stranglehold the public school system has on our society.

Are there great teachers in the public system? Of course there are. But we cannot, by virtue of their job as a teacher, group every teacher into the category of “great”. And the teachers union has become such a strong force, that principals in the public system have little or no power to discipline or fire teachers that underperform. When was the last time you heard of a teacher being fired for underperforming in their duties? It simply does not happen.

The children coming out of the Catholic School system consistently outperform children in the public system. If Ontarians, en mass, return the party that does not believe in diversity of schools, then the door opens for the Liberals to shut down the Catholic School system. What a shame that would be. Closing down the more successful system in order to protect the public system. How better to protect the public system than to free it of competition? There is no quicker way to fail our children than to remove the competition in education.

John Tory has it right. A vote for him is a vote for what is best for our children.

9 thoughts on “Faith Based Funding In Schools Is More A Matter Of Choice Than Of Religion

  • September 12, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    I personally think you and Tory are dead wrong on this issue. If choice is what you want then a voucher or user pay system is the way to go for the entire education system. In a truly free education system parents would be able to choose the education for their children based on any criteria. Extending funding for other religions is not more choice it is sowing the seeds of discontent among those who don’t get the freedom to choose other than a religious option.

  • September 12, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    “The children coming out of the Catholic School system consistently outperform children in the public system”

    Please post your sources for this statement. Personally, I think you are comparing apples to oranges. The public system takes on all comers. The private system cherry picks.

  • September 12, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    I’ve voted Conservative and so has my wife for the last 16 years. We are both voting Liberal thanks to Tory.
    Competition? That is like the competition between a church and a hospital when trying to save someone who is bleeding to death.

  • September 12, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    From a retired principal:

    “religion is offered by the RC system as an OAC for university admission. The marks in this course have traditionally been very high and can be used by Catholic students to gain bursaries and scholarships at the expense of students in the public school system.”

    This is what you mean by Catholic students doing better?

  • September 12, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    Great post Mulder. Well said.

    Kevin #1 – I agree a voucher system or tax rebate would be the ideal avenue, but sadly that isn’t being offered. That it isn’t being offered is hardly reason for me to not vote for Tory; he’s still providing choice and more competition. If Dalton says he’ll bring in a tax rebate, then perhaps we’ll talk. And contrary to what you said, parents will still be able to choose the public secular option.

    banana #2 – Really? I thought this was common knowledge. Anytime I go home to visit my parents up north, the people who are pumping gas and bagging groceries aren’t the kids I went to school with in the Catholic system – they’re the kids I played hockey and soccer with and lived beside, but who went to the public school. Great people, but it’s really astonishing how few of my classmates are left in the town, and even my friends here in Ottawa from the public system back home comment on it – on how many of their classmates are still there. Ill see if I can dig something up for ya

  • September 12, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Kevin #1 – As Matt says, I would agree that a voucher system is the best solution for competition. But it does not mean that funding all types of schools equally and providing students with more choice is not a better solution.

    banana #2, I have a special post coming just to address your skepticism of the results. Comparing apples to oranges is not the case because the Catholic School board is publicly funded and anyone can go. There is no cherry picking. No entrance exams. You don’t even need to be Catholic!!

    #3 and 4 Atheist Jew, my post coming will address the mark situation. With respect to religion as a class, I know kids in the public system who avoided Chemistry and Calculus and stuck to Geography and Phys-Ed for their (grade 13 credits back then). If you feel different classes offer different difficulty levels then you can target public schools just as easily as one class on religion.

  • September 13, 2007 at 11:42 am

    I think that there are better ways to improve the publicly funded school system than by introducing more state-sponsored religion into the equation.

    Regarding the competition-stifling protection that unions currently afford public school teachers, I note that publicly funded Catholic school teachers are also unionized, and that the two unions are affiliated.

    A more conservative approach would be to provide vouchers or tax credits to parents to fund their own schools. If these schools want accreditation to a common educational baseline, this could still be achieved without the direct government sponsorship that John Tory is advocating.

    It’s not too late for Mr. Tory to modify his policy by saying he will commit to a thorough independent study and referendum before committing to a specific course of action.

    On the same subject, I was surprised to read today that Lanark-Carleton PC MPP Norm Sterling implied that those who disagree with John Tory’s faith-based-schooling plan are either stupid or uninformed or both:

    “Dalton McGuinty is counting on the people being stupid and not looking behind this issue,” he added, with a note of caution for his own party. “If people are not engaged in the issue they may vote against us on it.”

    Such arrogance is astounding. Stupidity is not a factor on how I will cast my vote, but I now wonder about Norm Sterling’s judgment.

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