Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lemon: A Solid FBS Argument From Reader AEK

Reposted from Comments with His/Her Permission:

I agree with Lemon that Dalton is not handling the faith-based-schools issue well, and I’m not going to give him any advice. More importantly, I also think that John Tory’s Faith-Based Schools policy is not well thought out. Whether it gets him elected or not is another matter.

When Dalton leaves politics, the mess he leaves behind can be cleaned up relatively easily.

However, if John Tory gets elected and implements his FBS policy, its currently unknown ramifications will be with us for many generations to come. Mr. Tory claims this will only cost $400 million in the first year, but what about the following years?

What’s the minimum number of children in a school in order to qualify for funding? Will we be funding student/teacher ratios of five or ten to one? Wait for the howls and headlines as soon as some group’s funding is turned down.

Are all the capital costs factored into his faith-based-school budget?

How many additional schools will we have to build?
How many school boards will we ultimately have?
What will the overhead costs to the government be?
What will the court challenges cost?
How will his government ensure that the religious “teachings” are not extremist or counter-productive to a peaceful society?

To get some insight into how these faith-based-schools will proliferate in the future, have a look at a presentation by Dr. Ivan P. Fellegi, Chief Statistician of Canada to the Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform on February 17th, 2007, titled “Population and socio-economic trends in Ontario”. Now, recall what is happening in Britain and western Europe regarding Islamic extremism and terrorism. These countries are quickly coming to the realization that the root causes of these problems include people not being properly integrated into their societies and from living in their culturally segregated silos. Ask yourself whether this is something that we want to prevent from happening here.

I believe that the status quo of funding Catholic schools in parallel to the public system is unfair to other religions, but finding the right solution will take more time and thought than can be dedicated during a 30-day election campaign. Yet, Mr. Tory’s plan is to first commit to funding all faith-based schools, and then to study the problem only after he is elected. He is proverbially “putting the cart before the horse”.

Mr. Tory admits that his plan is “not universally popular” with a lot of Ontarians, but he is likely concerned that if he changes his policy, it will not reflect well on his “Leadership Matters” slogan.

Mr. Tory may know from his experience in private business that successful leadership can also mean admitting a mistake and correcting it before it’s too late.

What I think John Tory should do is to make an honourable modification to his FBS funding commitment. If elected, his government could appoint an independent commission to review the status quo and research possible alternative solutions. Then, if the commission makes recommendations for change, it should be put to the people of Ontario to decide in a future a referendum.

Personally, I don’t think that government should be funding any faith-based schools. If people want to put their children into religious schools, the government should not tax them for funding the public schools. They could then use that money to fund their own schools.

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