Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Biting off one's nose to save one's faith?

There was a delicious development in the Catholic schools vs. equity and inclusiveness policy saga Monday, as Coptic Christian families with children enrolled in Toronto Catholic DSB schools threatened to pull their kids from schools. Here's the Star's article.
But (Fr. Jeremiah) Attaalla said the Coptic Church is vehemently opposed to any education about homosexuality. Attaalla wrote a letter on behalf of four Coptic churches in the city to the Toronto Catholic school board demanding that the teachings remain true to Catholicism.
“Our members do not want gay-straight alliance groups in our Catholic schools,” Attaalla said. “We will pull our children from the Catholic schools if they go ahead with it.”
The Church said it has 4,000 families with children currently attending Toronto Catholic schools. The board purportedly receives $8,000 to $10,000 in public money for each student, which means this could cost the board up to $40 million. 
So the elements that are delicious?
Well, first it adds an interesting element for Catholic trustees who might be swayed by the threat into taking a stand on the provincial policy and developing board policy that isn't consistent with what's coming from the ministry. If they care about the loss of students, then they might be willing to fight to keep these students and bend to the Coptic church's wishes.
For the families in question I'm left wondering how serious a threat they're willing to act upon. Sure, 4,000 kids is enough to setup a few private schools. Families may be willing to pay and the church may be willing to fundraise to run these schools, which would be faith-based private schools.
The article correctly and rightly points out that public schools wouldn't be an option for these families opposed to the policy, as they've already enacted it. The interesting part is that unless the families leave the province or stop paying taxes altogether, they'll still financially be supporting the policy they abhor.
The money the families already pay to support the publicly funded school system would still be recovered by the province through taxation and just end up supporting the very system that's adopting the very equity and inclusiveness policy they don't like-- meaning regardless of where they educate their children, they're still supporting a publicly funded system even if the TCDSB isn't getting the per-pupil funding for their kids.
Pulling their kids is perhaps more damaging to the public funding of the Catholic education system in the long run. If the publicly funded system doesn't meet their needs, then why fund a faith-based publicly funded system to begin with? Have a singular secular system and those families that believe a faith-based instruction is essential for their children can do so within the private-school system.
So while the families might think their threat pushes the province towards dropping the requirement that Catholic boards enforce the policy, it only adds fuel to the fire of those who might wish to eliminate those boards altogether.
The final kick? The call isn't supported by the Canadian Egyptian Congress.