May 18th, 2001
Is the Harris rebate towards private school tuitions an expansion of the public education system (at taxpayer's expense) or a push towards privatization?
The immediate effect will be a relief for the parents who elect private education. This is clearly good.
However, in the longer term, given the centralization tendency of ALL major parties, how long will it take, after the next election, for the government of the day to introduce "conditions" to be met in order to "qualify as a school receiving government money" ? How long before the government will impose the same curriculum and text books across all schools financed by taxpayers? How long before proposals will be considered to unify all school boards in order to save taxpayers money? How could anyone be blamed for proposing that government expenses should be reduced?
True freedom of choice for parents and true competition among schools only occur when the parents, in cooperation with each school have the motivation and the power to make their own decisions.
Only a well thought parental choice system (voucher system) such as what the Ontario Coalition proposes can guarantee LESS government interference, MORE competition, MORE parental involvement, HIGHER quality of education, LESS volatility in the rules, standards and methods of teaching and generally better education for Ontario's children. (See the Ontario Coalition Education policy at: www.OntarioCoalition.com and click on: Education.)
Harris' half-baked approach certainly will not foster more autonomy for private and independent schools, but may indeed open a way for more government intervention.