Monday, February 20, 2006

Choice for Parents

Up until grade eight, I attended Catholic schools.

That means in addition to learning the three R’s I also learned how to be a good Catholic.

I learned how to practice the seven sacraments, I learned the importance of going to Mass and I learned how to feel guilty when I didn’t practice the sacraments or go to Mass.

Of course, the only reason I could get this important religious instruction is that Ontario has a separate government-funded school system for Catholics.

But other religions don’t have such a choice. Parents from other faiths have to either send their kids to public schools or pay for private religious schools.

And that never seemed right to me.

Why are Catholics so special, other than the fact that we invented meatless Fridays, St. Patrick’s Day and the Inquisition?

Well now things might be changing.

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives are promising to offer fiscal help to parents who send their kids to religious schools – perhaps in the form of a direct subsidy.

This is, I think, a good move. It’s a fair move.

But no doubt it will raise howls of outrage from the Liberal government and from the teachers’ unions who all hate the idea of giving parents a little more choice.

It’s the old “popcorn and beer” argument: “Parents can’t make the right decisions for their kids. Only union bosses and politicians know what’s right.”

Well Canadians are becoming less and less convinced that union bosses and politicians do have all the answers. Whether it’s in health care or education or what they watch on TV, Canadians want more power to make their own decisions.

That’s why the Ontario Tories are on the right track.

I only wish they would extend their subsidy plan to include all independent schools.

The more choice the better.


rondi said...

I think a better idea would be to scrap the Catholic system, which I've always thought was a terrible idea. Anyone who wants to send their kid to religious school of any kind should have to pay for it themselves.

Ed Hardison said...

We are already paying for a public school system that is unable or unwilling to teach Johny how to read , write or cope with life .
So if we NON Cathoics decide that the Catholics have a better way and they do ...[thank you , Bill Davis ] we put our kids in the Catholic Schools that tend to be far superior to a public system run by unions .
So you want us to pay double ?
Question ...are you a teacher in the public system ...a system that is failing miserably with students ?
Religious schools all have some basic moral values ...values that students are taught and that teachers believe in .Morality that has been scraped out of the public system ....and that is why it no longer can teach or control students .
A country without moral values is a country doomed to the scrap heap of time .
Should the provincial government provide tax relief for all parents that want their kids taught in a religious school ??
blessings from Virgil

rondi said...

Ed, You don't need religion to learn moral values. I learned them fine, without religion. Also, I went to public schools, and I can read, write and cope with life. If however, the current public school system is inadequate, I would suggest we insist it be improved, rather than abandon it.

Anonymous said...

Now maybe Ontario can take a small step in catching up with the rest of the world re: educational choice!!!

The more choice the better.

I've often felt that the public system is afraid to compete and that's why the usual suspects balk at the choice intiative. Although, if you delve into the TDSB website, I do believe they have over 30 alternative choices within their system to choose from, and we pay for those, WHICH, sometimes are vey selective about which students can attend, WHICH is what the champions of choice are so often accused of.

Take education out of the hands of the bureaucrats and put it back into the hands of parents and elected trustees have need to regain their roles rather than become handy tools of their board administrations or political wannabe hacks.

PM said...

I agree with rondi and Gerry. It is all about choice.

When I was 14 years old, it was *my* choice to attend a high school run by Ukrainian Catholic nuns. Fortunately for me, at that time in Saskatchewan my parents only had to sign a form to transfer their taxes to that school.

If they'd have had to pay extra for me to attend, I would have not been able to go, and would have missed out on the type of education I wanted.

Thanks to the teacher's unions and post-secondary institutions, the public school system today has become as parochial as any religious school.

The public system, which too often takes church-state separation to ridiculous extremes, should not be the only choice students are allowed.

Allowing only one choice is not the Canadian way, it is the soviet way.

PM said...

Oops, I definitely do *not* agree with Rondi. Sorry.

Mark Wickens said...

If the assistance will be in the form of tax credits, it's progress, I suppose. But why should the Osama bin Laden Madrassa qualify for the credit but not the Ayn Rand School for Tots? What makes religious parents more deserving of keeping more of their own money to educate their children than non-religious ones?

Ed Hardison said...

Because I believe that the Canadian education system is the basis for the future of Canada , I am going to continue the dialogue
1.] to Rondi ...congratulations on developing a sense of morality based on a non religious background almost impossible feat .
It is the Judeo/Christian heritage that all western civilization and morality is founded upon . The sanctity of all life and the do unto your neighbour rules of love and life .You may claim that you did it yourself ...but that is highly doubtful.
2.] I did not attend a religious school ...few existed in the 1940's & 50's. However I had the benefit of teachers who taught morality based on their Christian heritage .
However it took another 20 years before I truly caught it .
3.] to Mark ...what ?
How does a family seeking the opportunity of a religious education get to keep more tax dollars ? Today those seeking to give their kids a morality based education [ outside the Chatholic system ] pay for secular school tax PLUS the cost of the religious school . Where is the fairness in that ?
But I do agree that there must be strong guidelines to what a school espouses .
4.] We need CHOICE . Choice to pay for the secular system or choice to divert our taxes to another system .
There is no doubt that kids will graduate from a religious school will tend to have a stronger sense of morality than those who attend today's " if it feels good do it " schools .

blessings from Virgil

Mark Wickens said...

Virgil wrote: "How does a family seeking the opportunity of a religious education get to keep more tax dollars ? Today those seeking to give their kids a morality based education [ outside the Chatholic system ] pay for secular school tax PLUS the cost of the religious school . Where is the fairness in that ?"

I agree it's not fair. I was talking about the proposed plan to give tax credits only to religious schools.

"But I do agree that there must be strong guidelines to what a school espouses ."

You can't agree with me on that because I didn't say it and don't believe it. My opinion is that government should get out of the education business altogether.