In Ontario, in education, it pays to be Catholic II (full day kindergarten)
Full day kindergarten could be funded from savings from one school system
Ottawa, January 12, 2010 - Education Equality in Ontario waded into the subject of full day kindergarten today, pointing out that the $1.5 billion program could be funded largely or completely from the savings that could be realized by amalgamating Ontario's public and Catholic school systems into one secular school system.
"Ontario is facing an unprecedented budget deficit", said Education Equality in Ontario president Leonard Baak, "and that deficit threatens the funding of many essential programs from hospitals to schools to care for the elderly. We are already seeing cuts announced and they are just the beginning of the pain Ontarians will feel. It is irresponsible to introduce new funding commitments without a plan to pay for them", said Baak.
Baak went on to point out that the savings that could be realized by bringing public and Catholic schools together under a single public school system could pay for the McGuinty kindergarten plan. "Full day kindergarten is not a bad idea," said Baak, "particularly since the intention is to eventually make it available to all parents. It is certainly a better idea than Catholic school funding, a discriminatory non-essential which could provide the savings to fund the kindergarten plan if eliminated."
Education Equality director Geraint Jones indicated their task in the months ahead would be to make Ontarians aware of the real cost of Catholic schools in terms of human suffering and quality of life. "Ontario will deal with its unprecedented deficit by slashing funding to the programs Ontarians cherish", said Jones, "and the result will be fewer hospital beds, longer wait times, deferred or unavailable treatments, underfunded classrooms, inadequate care for elderly Ontarians, and deferred or cancelled infrastructure spending. We are seeing the beginnings already. Given a choice, most Ontarians would vote to save any of these over Catholic school funding," claimed Jones. "Most Ontarians want to see one school system."
Mr. Baak also expressed concerns over the gradual way in which full day kindergarten is being rolled out. He pointed out that due to the absolute right of Catholic elementary schools to reject non-Catholic children, Catholic parents will be 50% more likely to have access to a full day kindergarten during the roll out period.
"One third of the publicly funded schools in Ontario are Catholic" said Baak, "and discriminatory admissions policies make these schools virtually inaccessible to non-Catholics at the elementary level. Approximately one third of the schools offering full day kindergarten in the first year are also Catholic. The fact that Catholic parents are guaranteed access to both public and Catholic schools means that during the roll out period, they are far more likely to live within the attendance area of a full day kindergarten school that will accept their children. That is a big educational advantage for Catholic children and a big financial advantage for their parents, who will save thousands on day-care costs. More Catholic children than non-Catholic children are likely to benefit from full day kindergarten in the first years and we will likely see that reflected in standardized test scores for years to come."
"The time has never been better to eliminate Catholic school funding", said Mr. Jones, "and the need has never been greater. It should be done now."
About Education Equality in Ontario
Education Equality in Ontario is a non-governmental human rights organization and education advocacy group. They seek the elimination of religious discrimination and duplication in the Ontario school system through the establishment of a single publicly-funded school system for each official language (English and French).
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