Monday, October 01, 2007

Close the book on Election 2007

A very forgetable politician, John Tory, has lost the campaign to the very forgetable Dalton McGuinty. More important, since there's nothing ideologically different between these two men, Roman Catholic education in Ontario is mortally wounded in the crossfire.
The great conundrum of the funding of religious schools lay in the fact the Liberals supported state funding for Roman Catholic schools and no other faiths'. Now the public can reasonably ask why Catholic schools have this funding and the schools of other faiths do not.
I wish John Tory never raised the issue. My kids don't go to Catholic schools, but almost all the people in my extended family did. My older relatives, including my grandmother, taught in them for nothing when times were tough. Women throughout my dad's family -- nuns and lay women -- fought hard for the Cathiolic system. My great aunt Mary Lehane was one of the Catholic teachers federation executives who pried the pension system out of the hands of the province. Her sister Bernie -- my grandmother-- taught for nothing during the Great Depression.
But how can we justify this system? Irish and French Catholics won it at great cost and in the teeth of Oranbge opposition nearly 150 years ago. Their argument: Catholics pay taxes, too.
So do Jews and Muslims.
And so it goes.
There is an unfairness now. One historical wrong was righted by the funding of Catholic schools. But that was in another time, and now, in the ironic name of multicultralism, that era will close.


Anonymous said...

Agreed. I would also suggest that moving to one system would alleviate much of the underfunding that now exists. My oldest daughter had to wait until the end of October for her math text to arrive; too bad that was almost halfway through the semester. At my youngest daughter's elementary school, her teacher regularly shells out of her own pocket for things for the classroom. Both go to Catholic board schools, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Catholic or public- both are sharing ripped textbooks. It's a non-denominal school mess. Last week there was a fight at one of the local schools. A child was beat up and lost his three front teeth. He was hit so hard that the roots were killed. I'd argue this forever, but this WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED IN A CATHOLIC SCHOOL. It just wouldn't have. Maybe your next post should be about that, Mark. It would be a huge loss to lose the Catholic schools. If you ask any public high school teacher, they can tell you which grade 9s came out of the public and which came out of the Catholic school system. As I'm sure you remember, we learned more than the Rosary.

Ottawa Watch said...

It would be a loss to lose the Catholic schools, a terrible setback for many, many people. But I think the politicians in Ontario have recklessly torn this wide open, with only the thought of the election in mind and no real idea about the repercussions.
This is very much like the Sharia law controversy. After everyone finished making political hay, Sharia law was out, but so were Jewish arbitration courts. Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress has made the same point.
The problem is that McGuinty's support of funding for Catholic schools, no funding for other faiths' schools is so logically flawed that, over time, the argument can't be maintained.
Now, if people would just speak truth -- that they are afraid Muslim schools will teach subversion -- it's an argument that can be dealt with. The answer may be that schools that isolate and alienate kids from Canadian culture should be denied funding. But who decides? Who inspects?
And I haven't heard any Muslims even ask for this money. It's mostly been Christians, though even they aren't too enthusiastic about the government being involved in their schools. They see it as a matter of Church and State. Schools, to them, are an extension of the Church. To most people, schools are an extension of the State. There's a whole group of people who want neither, and would rather pay double, through taxes and tuition, for education in their own private schools.
We -- we Catholics, our ancestors who faced real and very serious discrimination for their faith -- won our schools because we took the position that we pay taxes, we contribute. But so do Muslims. That logic is now turned on us. So what's it going to be? John Tory's been spun into dust, but many people will regret going anywhere near this issue.