Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Protest I Can Rally Behind!

On September 13, 2010 at 12pm, member organizations of One School System Network are planning a rally in Toronto to protest the public funding of Catholic schools in Ontario.  The event has been planned for this date as it is the first day of the two day international summit on education being held by the Ministry of Education.

In Canada, The Constitution Act of 1867 mandates that Catholic schools be publicly funded.  This has remained in the Constitution despite the fact that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms also prohibits discrimination based on religion. 

You can't have it both ways.  You can't provide full public funding to one religion's school system while denying it to others.  You can't publicly fund a school system that denies entry to students based on faith.  You can't publicly fund a school system that denies jobs to teachers based on faith.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has even condemned Canada (1999) for discriminating in their providing of public funds to Catholic schools and not other denominations..  

The solution would seem to be to fund all religious schools or none.  If we were to fund all religious schools we would be taking funds out of the current public school system at a time when funds are desperately needed.  That leaves us the solution of funding none of them.  Keep the school system secular and public, available to all children regardless of faith and open to all teachers regardless of faith.  This would be following the lead of other Canadian provinces like New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland & Quebec.  Quebec for crying out loud!  Quebec which has statistically the highest percentage of Catholics of any province in Canada no longer publicly funds Catholic schools!!!

Come on Ontario - Get with the program!!!  Faith is personal and has no business in the public classroom.  This is why there are churches and youth groups and family gatherings.  If you want to raise your child in your faith, then feel free, but don't expect my tax dollars to pay for it.

While we're on the topic of my tax dollars, there is a misconception that needs to be cleared up.  Catholic schools in Ontario are fully funded.  This means that the funds are given to these schools in the same way and from the same coffers as the rest of the public schools.  When you fill out, on you property tax form, whether you "support" the public school system or the Catholic school system, it means which do you support politically, not to which do you wish your tax dollars to be applied. 

There was an excellent article called Canada's Dirty Little Secret in the journal Humanist Perspectives recently.  It was written by an Ontario public school teacher named Richard Young.  Mr Young does a phenomenal job detailing how the system works as well as how much money could be saved (or hopefully applied to the public system) if we stopped funding the Catholic schools.  I encourage everyone to read it.

Richard Dawkins also recently did a documentary on faith based schools in the UK which can be watched online.  I've only watched the first half so far, but have found it very interesting and fairly relevant to our current situation in Ontario.

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