Monday, August 27, 2007

Want real choice in education? Vote Family Coalition

The issue of school choice has been a hot topic in the media lately.

Dalton McGuinty doesn't want to extend funding to other religions, and calls religious schools segregationist (never mind that he sends his own kids to Catholic school). John Tory wants to extend funding, but with the intent of forcing religious schools to abide by the government curriculum.

The Family Coalition Party has another vision:

Choice is to education what competition is to business. It unleashes the pent-up creativity of educators, in response to consumer demands. Just as competition works to improve quality and lower prices, so taxpayers will save money when parents are allowed to choose in the education marketplace. Choice is the catalyst that will drive other school reforms -- it will spark innovations in teaching, management, and learning.

To implement that idea, it proposes a school voucher system:

2.4 The Parental Choice System:

1. Parents choose the school, public or privately owned, for their children.

2. The Government of Ontario provides a Child Education Cheque for each child [i.e.: a voucher]

3. The Government pays the amount of the Child Education Cheque to the school selected by the parent. This amount (per student/per year) is calculated by dividing the total budget for education in Ontario by the total number of students.

4. Each privately owned school is free to set its tuition fee.

5. Any excess of the tuition fee over the amount of the Child Education Cheque is borne by the parents.

6. Each school must achieve minimum academic standards and curriculum requirements, as set by the Ministry of Education, in order to be certified.

7. Each school, in addition to minimum requirements, may add to its curriculum.

8. The Ministry of Education administers standardised tests at grades 5, 8, 10, and at the end of high school. The results are sent to the parents and to the schools (It is their responsibility to act accordingly).

9. The Family Coalition Party will allow home-schooling families to cash any percentage of the education vouchers reserved for their children, to be used for purchasing books and for school expenses.

Everyone wins under this system. Public schools, private schools and even homeschooled children. It's not a one-size-fits-all system like the other parties are proposing. We can even envision a host of alternative schools under this system that otherwise cannot see the light of day because of the red tape and prohibitive cost to parents.

If you favour the widest possible choice for parents:


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