TORONTO – POLITICS – Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate, Alvin Tedjo has announced his campaign commitment to see the province’s public and Catholic school boards merged successfully under one roof.
The comprehensive plan, Learning Together, would address fundamental issues facing the current public education system by merging Ontario’s public and Catholic school boards into one English language board and one French-language board.
Tedjo, who is a well-known advocate for education in Ontario, argues that his plan will not only generate significant benefits for students and teachers, but will also have material fiscal benefits that cannot be ignored.
“For students, this change means the convenience of attending their closest school, less time on the bus and access to an optional religious curriculum. For teachers and early childhood educators, it means smaller class sizes, availability of more resources and the freedom to teach in any publicly funded school,” said Tedjo. “Learning Together would also see more class offerings in STEM* and the arts, as well as improved mental health resources and supports for students with special needs.”
Charles Pascal, a former Ontario Deputy Minister of Education and professor at OISE*/University of Toronto has previously said, “When it comes to publicly funded education in Ontario, it’s time to let go of our “separate ways” so we can come together. Providing Catholic education with public money is an anachronism waiting to be brought to an end by a courageous Queen’s Park legislature.” (Source)
From a fiscal standpoint, Tedjo argues that his plan to merge the school boards will result in substantial savings to the province. This figure is an estimated $1.6B dollars per year that would be reinvested back into public education for ongoing improvement.
“Quebec, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador have already done this. It’s time for Ontario to make a change and stop spending precious education dollars to maintain twice as many school boards as we actually need,” said Tedjo.
“We applaud Alvin’s proposal to create a single, publicly funded school system for each official language. All Ontario children should learn and play together in a multicultural and pluralistic setting,” said Greg Oliver, President of the Canadian Secular Alliance. “Teachers deserve an employment market free from religious discrimination. And costly duplication due to overlapping school boards, operating schools well below enrolment capacity and otherwise unnecessary transportation distances diverts substantial resources from more worthy uses. This reform is long overdue.”
“Under the current system, the government is quite literally wasting billions of dollars to keep children apart. I firmly believe that a better solution is to have all of our kids – Catholic and non-Catholic – Learning Together,” said Tedjo.
Quick Facts on Learning Together:
|• Learning Together is a comprehensive plan for the future of public education in Ontario that would:|
|– Merge Ontario’s Catholic and Public School Boards|
|– Reinvest all savings back into the education system, including:|
|– Smaller class sizes,|
|– Specialty classes, like in STEM and the arts,|
|– Supports for students with special needs,|
|– Mental health resources,|
|– Capital repairs; and|
|– Resources for teachers and early childhood educators|
|– Conduct a comprehensive review and revision of the school funding formula|
|– End standardized EQAO testing for all students and instead use random sampling to provide better empirical data about student progress|
|• Only two other provinces- Alberta and Saskatchewan – operate separate Catholic systems|
|• Quebec, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador have all ceased to operate separate Catholic education systems|
|• A 2012 discussion paper from the Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods estimates merging the boards would generate annual savings of $1.269 to $1.594B|
|• Merging the boards is consistently one of the top recommendations during public pre-budget consultations|
“As a father myself, I empathize with the decision that parents have to make. I have three young children enrolled in Catholic school and we love the education that they are receiving. Learning Together is about building on the strengths of both systems and doing what’s best for Ontario’s students.”
As part of his leadership campaign, Tedjo is also spearheading the dialogue on the critical issues of Basic income and Childcare.