Monday, June 29, 2009

What the Hudak win means for education

As most would have heard by now, Tim Hudak (PC--Niagara-Glanbrook) won the leadership of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party over the weekend, after members voted the weekend prior to select the replacement for departing leader John Tory. I had previously blogged about the four contenders' education platforms, or lack thereof, in early May.
From his own April posting of his education platform:
Hudak’s plan includes:
  • Enhanced Use of Phonics: Greater emphasis on phonics as a basis for literacy and enhanced training and support for teachers in its use.
  • High School Exit Exams: Work with the Education Quality and Accountability Office to introduce province-wide high school exit exams to provide more information to parents, students and post-secondary institutions.
  • Financial Literacy: Make economic and financial literacy a mandatory part of the high school curriculum.
  • Fair and Accurate Grading: Eliminate unfair pressure on teachers to make sure students pass even if the student is unwilling or unable to complete the work.
What's been more interesting to read since this was posted are the many comments left by supporters on his website. Those include people reminding him of his 2007 campaign support for Tory's disastrous religious-school funding platform and outright asking if he still supports it.
Others call for Ontario to move in the direction of Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec, who had the constitution amended and created public-school systems that did away with faith-based school boards. This has led to one English-language and one French-language school system (where appropriate) in those provinces.
Ontario, as most would know, contains four school systems over 72 publicly funded school boards-- English public, English Catholic, French Catholic and French public.
Certainly if Hudak decides to go down that road again in 2011, adding this issue to the ones he listed above, this is the better way to go than the "money for all" approach taken by Tory in 2007. That platform was flawed and would have led to private, faith-based schools getting a per-student grant equal to publicly funded systems, on top of whatever tuition and private alumni support they would continue to receive from families.
Catholic school boards, particularly in regions where Catholics are a minority group, would mount a crusade against a single system if the issue ever seriously reared its head in Ontario. (Full disclosure: I am a Catholic-school graduate) Perhaps it's time to have that conversation.


Anonymous said...

It is interesting to note that both Manitoba and Quebec partially fund (for a large portion of tuition) private schools, many of which are religous schools.