Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chasing the elephant out of the room - Updated

(Update at end of this post)

If recent polling results are accurate, John Tory's Faith-Based funding proposal is still obviously bothering a lot of Ontario voters, (in spite of the fact that he apparently took my advice about the 'free vote'.)

As I mentioned before the elephant in the room may very well be Islamophobia.

So here is my proposal: Let's just add a few more select faiths which meet the prescribed criteria - Perhaps Jewish day schools and some more Christian schools.

What's that you say? You can't discriminate?

Oh, but we already are.

And according to this letter in the Star by Gila Gladstone-Martow, there are lots more than just the Catholic system that Dalton McGuinty attended:

Your editorial touting one homogeneous school system for everyone fails to mention the myriad of school choices already available ranging from arts-based and sports-based to French immersion programs. In fact, Premier Dalton McGuinty recently announced doubling the number of these "specialty" schools from 100 to 200.

You readily accept full guaranteed funding for Roman Catholic schools while denying my tax dollars to be directed to my choice of "specialty" school – Jewish day school education.

If Roman Catholics are the only religious groups guaranteed funding for their schools, how then do you explain the five Ukrainian Eastern Rite schools, Burkevale Protestant School in Penetanguishene, Eden High Christian School in Niagara, a Christian school co-operative in Rainy River, and a new native school in Toronto, to name a few? How is it these religious "specialty" schools receive funding while Associated Hebrew Schools, which turns 100 this year, does not?

McGuinty and Education Minister Kathleen Wynne are both on record supporting funding for what many in the Jewish community consider to be a lifeline for survival – our school systems. Yet another broken promise.

Sandy has written extensively about Eden.

So Ontario. What do you say? Could you handle the Jewish day schools being added to the mix? How about a few more Christian schools?

The point is, Dalton McGuinty has already allowed some faith-based funding to occur in Ontario. Therefore, he already discriminates.

* * * *

Update: Here is an excerpt from a great letter in this morning's Record by a Kitchener resident, Rose Berwick:
...My son was born with severe deformities of his back, chest, legs, arms, hands and feet. His eyes, lungs and heart are also affected. He was given no hope to live.

I have taken the care of my son very seriously. When it came time for schooling him I had two choices with my tax dollars. I enrolled him in a separate school, but he was not cared for. I found out young children were looking after him, not staff, and my ability to have input over the education of my son was not wanted. I was not even allowed to come to the school.

I contacted a public school and they said, "We'd take him but we really don't want him."

I found a faith-based school that took him in and valued him. Even a mother in the school with a master's degree in special education offered to help my son without pay for six months. He learned to read through her, and the staff went beyond the call of duty to meet his needs. I was left with the financial stress to pay for his education...
In my opinion, a school like this deserves public funding.

On the other hand, maybe our tax dollars are going to worthier projects...

Mark Bonokoski - There could be darker, xenophobic reasons why Ontarians have rejected John Tory's call for funding of faith-based schools.

Interesting that in this Post article about a riding where all four major candidates are Muslim (for the first time in Ontario), there's barely a mention of FB-Funding.

Spectator - Watch Thornhill in faith-based funding war.


Tony said...

I agree with you. Many voters are afraid to admit that the fear of Madrassas run by extremists is one of the critical factors in their opposition to FBF. The other thing that people are jittery about is the non-integration of some citizens into the Canadian way of life. Many feel, rightly or wrongly, that FBF will further enhance that.

I agree that FBF is a topic worthy of discussion, but certainly not in an election campaign. It needs to be discussed in a forum where the pros and cons could be debated and the facts presented without the accompying fear-mongering and election propaganda coming from all sides.

It's sad that this issue has become the centerpiece of this election campaign, when the real focus should have been on Premier McGuinty and his many broken promises.

Anonymous said...

Agree 100%. Unease with the impact of increasing number of Muslims, and fear that making it easier for themselves to self-segregate will made the situation worse, is definitely behind much of the reaction.

There is also a general anti-religious sentiment in the air, a result of Muslims and their impact on our daily headlines, American evangelicals and the black eye they have given the once great US, the neverending reports of sexual abuse in various religious schools and churches.

It seems that Tory and his advisers live in a bubble, because it is obvious to any person in the street that this proposal was going to really PO a lot of people, more than it would have a decade ago.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

There is also a general anti-religious sentiment in the air

Good point. One of our own Blogging Tories, a self-declared atheist, was vehemently opposed to this right from the get-go.

It is about fear and anger. It's a visceral issue, and cannot be controlled by reason.

Dirk said...

Not a single person I've talked to has given concern over Islamic schools as a reason for opposing the FBF for schools initiative. The reason people don't like it is because most people are opposed to the notion that special funding be allocated to faith-based schools.

I agree there are inconsistencies in our society today, and that's unfortunate. Most Ontarians would much prefer getting rid of the Catholic school system and establishing fairness that way.

This was a bad policy. For me, personally, it indicates that the PC party doesn't get education. One more strong indication of this: the 10 minutes of homework per grade policy. Do you really think that politicians in say, Japan, Korea, India or China would dare to propose this? How on earth can we compete in the knowledge economy if we're scared of doing homework?

Anonymous said...

Well Dirk - nearly every single person I have spoken to about FBF has expressed some issues with the Islamic schools, and to some it was the main and only real concern.

So, I guess it depends on what circle of people one runs. I think that people who read about what is going on in England right now would be very uneasy providing further support and encouragement for Muslims to isolate themselves from this society, and that would have been the main impact of this policy.

Regardless, the real problem to my eyes is the manner in which this suicidal policy was concocted and brought to the public eye, seemingly without sufficient or appropriate consultation. It seems like a case when either lobbyists or ideologues have hijacked the agenda and damaged the party rather badly.

Jeff Davidson said...

Dalton McGuinty has already allowed faith-based funding to occur in Ontario.

in fairness, mcguinty is not responsible for the existance of the separate school board. he's no more responsible for it than harris, peterson, rae , davis etc...

like the rest, he lacked the political will to do the right thing. end it.

one public system for all ontarions. the separation of church and state is fundamental is ensuring that all of our children have access to excellent education.

your continued assertion that islamphobia is the real reason ontario voters reject tory's plan provides it's own ironies. any voter who is foolish enough to believe that the muslim population in ontario is so large that it poses a threat need only read the stats. further, any voter chooses to reject tory and his party for these reasons is likely a conservative voter in the first place. they have become the victims of their own prejudice.
if your theory is correct,conservatism may have cost the conservatives a govt in ontario. how delicious.

valiantmauz said...

Oh please. If you want to know why I oppose FBF, take a gander at the intersection of Matheson and Hurontario. You'll find two monstrous multi-million dollar buildings staring at each other across the road - one housing the public school board and the other the separate school board. Hundreds of administrators, tall foreheads, bureaucrats and education lackeys work in those buildings doing the exact same thing twice over.

John Tory tells us that his plan affects only 53,000 students overall, and will cost "just" half a billion dollars.

Think about ten years down the road, if this plan actually were put into effect: there would be an exodus from the public system into each of five new boards - figure at least five more for each of the big religions.

That doesn't change the net number of students in the system, but sure as the sunrise, it does change the net number of administrators, tall foreheads, bureaucrats and education lackeys.

What would cost "just" half a billion now, will cost five billion a decade from now. That's a conservative estimate.

Conservatives can point to any number of faith-based exceptions that exist within the current system. The point is, they're exceptions, not the rule. They aren't backed up by the entrenched, immovable and voracious bureaucracies that are the inevitable result of extending faith-based funding to "qualified" faiths.

The idea was and is nuts, and Tory should have known better. He has only himself to blame for this mess: he did not telegraph his position in advance of the election, did not even send up a trial balloon. Instead, he floated it during the campaign, and stubbornly kept trying to float it for weeks, even when it became clear that his balloon was the moral equivalent of the Hindenburg.

Oh, the humanity.

Dirk said...

Why the link to the Bonokoski column? He doesn't elaborate on the xenophobia idea at all. This is just a rambling column.

Wayward son said...

"how then do you explain the five Ukrainian Eastern Rite schools" etc etc.

Both you and the letter writer seem to be implying that Ontario voters approve of these schools and are therefore hypocrits and islamophobes. Last time I checked voters didn't give these schools the go ahead and from the sounds of it they were given the choice they wouldn't have.

"Premier Dalton McGuinty recently announced doubling the number of these "specialty" schools from 100 to 200."

I don't have a problem with all specialty schools. The public school should meet the needs of 98 or 99% of children, but I highly doubt Ontarians have an issue with special schools which provide for the needs of children with severe mental disabilities. Maybe Ontarians approve of a couple schools for people gifted in say music or whatever, but maybe they don't and just were not asked. I tried to find information about these schools online but found nothing.

But there is big difference in between special schools based on the needs of disabled children or perhaps based on the merit of a few children who have worked their but off at music (etc) for years and now have earned the opportunity to continue developing that talent when the local highschool would not have provided such an opportunity. Those are cases of need or earning (something I thought conservatives would understand, but apparently not), vs cases of the state providing segregation based on the religious beliefs (not of the child who are 4 or 5 and who will unfortunately never the chance to make up their own mind, but) of the parents which seems like "nanny state" to the supreme to me. Do we really need the state to indoctrinate your children with your religious view? Is it not possible for you and your church to do this on your own? Why must the government do everything for you? Are religious parents and churches really that pathetic that they need complete 24 hour a day indoctrination to raise a child of faith?

"So Ontario. What do you say? Could you handle the Jewish day schools being added to the mix? How about a few more Christian schools?"

I think Ontarians are making their views loud and clear on this issue. They support separation of church and state. They do not support an expansion of religious schools. Hopefully, we will see a move towards ending the catholic schools and if the Liberals or Conservatives (maybe the NDP) were to put forward a thought-out detailed proposal of how to do that (maybe by looking at the Green Party proposal) then it would get the support of a lot of voters.

kursk said...

Jeff Davidson..i suggest you re-check your stats, and if you are so inclined take a gander into certain areas in the GTA, one of which fields four Muslim candidates.Can you really see any leftist candidate coming out against this problem? After they have been so good to you, for so long?

As well, i would like to thank you for proving that conservatives vote to issue, whereas the left always votes to power, regardless of issue.After all, you could run a seal for MPP or MP, and liberals would vote it in..

Anonymous said...

If you do your homework you'll find that Dalton's "specialty" schools are the gov't's best kept secret going.

In fact, they mirror charter schools without the actual charter legislation to go along with it.

This keeps the unions quiet, AND, supports McGuinty's admiration of the charter school system. Why do you think his gov't visited and studied Edmonton so carefully?

Why can't McGuinty even be honest about Ontario copying its version of a charter school system? Because we have one, only in Liberal lingo, they're specialty schools.

Anonymous said...

Over at the Halls of Macadamia blog there's an interesting theory brewing. What IF McGuinty's stance on the fb schools issue DID eventually contribute to the demise of the Catholic system? Could they then blame Dalton for that?

This issue isn't going to die. Here's what I predict.

Faith-based schools take the province to court on a human rights violation.

Courts say McGuint's unfair and should either fund ALL religions or fund NONE.

What's McGuinty's next move?? Any takers?

Oh, and it should be really fun to watch when the teachers threaten job action when their contracts come due in the spring. Can we afford another huge payout?? For fewer services? The ETFO is already making noises about wanting $711 more per student in elementary, class cap in junior/intermediate grades, and no supervision duty.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

If you do your homework you'll find that Dalton's "specialty" schools are the gov't's best kept secret going.

In fact, they mirror charter schools without the actual charter legislation to go along with it.

I don't suppose you'd provide any links with that homework assignment? :)

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Can we afford another huge payout?? For fewer services? The ETFO is already making noises about wanting $711 more per student in elementary, class cap in junior/intermediate grades, and no supervision duty.

I predict another tax increase. Or else more downloading. Kids in this area are now being asked to pay directly for substitute teachers when they are going on a field trip and their own teacher has to miss some classes.

liberal supporter said...

This issue isn't going to die. Here's what I predict.

Faith-based schools take the province to court on a human rights violation.

Courts say McGuint's unfair and should either fund ALL religions or fund NONE.

The Supreme Court already decided this in 1996. Unless Stephen Harper manages to abolish the SCC with its "unelected liberal activist judges", that ruling will stand.

Here is an article about this. Excerpt:

The SCC ruling of November 1996 -- on hearing appeal from the Court of Appeal for Ontario in the case known as Adler vs. Ontario -- was the authoritative settling of any dispute or misgiving arising from the claim of interested parties that since the Roman Catholic schools in the province received public funding, fairness demanded that other faith-based schools be equally treated.


The SCC ruled that the "distinction made between the Roman Catholic schools and other religious schools is constitutionally mandated and cannot be the subject of a Charter attack." The majority of justices also observed that not extending public funds to faith-based private schools Ontario was not in violation of the freedom clause of section 2(a), nor the equality clause of section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.

Moreover, the SCC ruling declared that for parents "the cost of sending their children to private religious schools is a natural cost of the appellants' religion and does not, therefore, constitute an infringement of their freedom of religion protected by s. 2(a) of the Charter."

Anonymous said...

Re: homework - first you need to learn about Charter Schools. You can do that by checking out the Society for Quality Education website and the new YouTube videos on Charter Schools.

You can also check on the SQE site for the Charter School headquarters out west. Compare them to McGuinty's "specialty schools" and you'll see what I mean.

Joanne - what do you mean that your kids have to pay for substitute teachers directly?? That's absurd. Tell us more.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

what do you mean that your kids have to pay for substitute teachers directly?? That's absurd. Tell us more

This is the plan of the local public board as they look for ways to save money. There is some concern that it may not be constitutional. Heh.

I'll try to find the links.

Anonymous said...

The Coalition for Education Reform also has literature out entitled Charter Schools in Ontario that came out in 1998 I believe ahead of this organization's Toronto conference on Charter Schools WHICH saw a huge representation form Samuel Genest school in Orleans....which happened to be the school McGuinty's kids attended about the same time.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

First link.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Second link.

Anonymous said...

Joanne - fundraising for substitute teachers is simply nonsense. Why isn't the Education Premier's gov't paying for substitutes???

What's this board doing with all of their money??

What's more....this is another issue that got overlooked(quite conveniently) in this election.

I have also heard that the Ministry often seconds teachers that makes them miss their classes but doesn't pay boards enough for substitutes.

This is crap!!!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

This is crap!!!

It may also be illegal.

Anonymous said...

If the Ministry has anything to do with assigning legality to this, it'll find it legal.

The ministry has no idea of what boards are charging parents....period.

A few years ago, because parents complained, a local board did it's own investigation on how much secondary schools were charging for student fees and for extra-curriculars. Schools within the same board charging drastically different fees for all kinds of stuff - lab. equipment, workbooks,

They seem to be able to increase the fees for no reason.