What we stand for
The Inclusive Education Initiative is committed to a program of principled advocacy, bringing our message to parents, schools, administrators, government and the people of Ontario through a set of five principles. These principles (below) outline the benefits of public funding for Ontario’s faith-based schools.
1) Education is a core Canadian value. Faith-based education is essential to the strength and vitality of diverse communities in our province and faith-based schools deliver high quality education. Moreover, faith-based communities are an integral part of the Ontario and Canadian mosaic and high quality education in a variety of faith oriented schools ensures our communities’ significant and unique contributions to society.
2) Education is part of the public trust. Our children’s education at faith-based schools is part of that trust. To underscore that relationship, faith-based schools should be within Ontario’s public sphere of education.
3) To best ensure that all students are positive and effective contributors to society, Ontario faith-based schools should be treated in an equitable and fair manner, regardless of religious affiliation.
4) Just as schools in the public sphere follow criteria established by the Ministry of Education, faith-based schools would also meet appropriate approved Provincial criteria.
5) Public funding requires that schools adhere to accountability standards. Faith-based schools would meet appropriate approved provincial accountability requirements.
Ontario’s public sphere of education already accommodates a great deal of diversity. The Ministry of Education acknowledges that Ontario families should be able to choose the school that best suits their children’s needs within the public framework of education. Based on that principle, funding is extended to these schools. The government funds many choices in education but still excludes faith-based schools, attended by over 50,000 students.
Faith-based schools attract students from a broader socio-economic range than elite ‘private schools’ and strive to educate them in accordance with values and principles learned at home, just as publicly funded Catholic schools do.
BENEFITS OF INCLUSIVE EUDCATION
Inclusive Public Education good for everyone
All Ontarians benefit from funding faith-based schools. Students who graduate from faith-based schools have gone on to make effective and positive contributions to Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world. Graduates of faith-based schools receive a solid education in core subjects, and a thorough grounding in the principles of their beliefs. Faith-based school graduates become leaders and activists in their own communities, and positive contributors to Ontario and to Canada, partly as a result of the education they receive. Faith-based schools produce proactive, tolerant individuals who are secure in their beliefs, and welcome the benefits of diversity in a multicultural country.
Inclusive Public Education good for Ontario
Public education forms part of the trust between government and taxpayers. Funded institutions become part of that trust, and thus become accountable to government and the public at large for use of public funds. If faith-based schools were provincially funded, their accountability would provide multiple benefits for the province. Among them:
Faced with limited resources, some faith communities seeking to educate their children in accordance with their beliefs may turn outside the country for funding. That could raise key questions about the lessons and values taught when international politics are allowed to infiltrate Ontario classrooms. By funding faith-based schools, the Ontario government can enhance the long-term security and harmony of Ontario society and encourage the promotion of Canadian values.
Inclusive Public Education good for students
If faith-based education were included in the public sphere, students at faith-based schools would benefit not only from greater sensitivity to cultural needs, but from participation in the public sphere generally. Here’s how:
Additional student participation in provincial testing to ensure the maintenance of educational standards.
Measurement of faith-based schools with the same standards as public schools, providing a better picture of areas for improvement.
Better reporting for parents on student achievement so parents can determine the best opportunities for development.
Encouragement for educators to periodically reexamine the content and delivery of the curriculum based on test results.
Participation by educators in government sponsored events for educators, leading to enhanced academic and career opportunities for faith-based school students.
Inclusive Public Education good for all schools
By bringing faith-based schools into the public education sphere, the Government of Ontario can facilitate a unique forum for inter-community dialogue among faith-based schools of different backgrounds and public schools. This interaction would be based on shared staff expertise and curriculum-based contact among students from a diverse variety of schools. There would be further benefits by sharing achievements in community work, extra-curricular programming, art, sports and teacher training. This kind of interaction strengthens Ontario’s commitment to diversity and multiculturalism.
Inclusive Public Education good for parents
Currently, parents who send their children to unfunded faith-based schools must pay tuition out-of-pocket or qualify for tuition subsidies from private agencies. This represents a substantial financial challenge for parents who may not be in the same socio-economic bracket as those who can afford elite private schools. Yet parents who send their children to faith-based schools still pay the same property taxes and face the same choice as other taxpayers about which of the four funded systems to subsidize. Many faith-based schools rely from year to year on community support; this situation is untenable in the long term.