To take a provincial example, most funded independent schools in Manitoba are faith-based and come from a variety of religious perspectives, including Roman Catholic, Christian Reformed, Seventh Day Adventist, Islamic, Lutheran, Mennonite, and Jewish, and they cooperate on matters of common interest (Zwaagstra, 2015). This demonstrates that it is quite possible to have a plurality of communities working together for the common good of education within a province. Indeed broadening the definition of educational outcomes might support a more vibrant educational landscape within Ontario.
Diversity in 21st century Ontario
Our guests recommended that a warmer climate in Ontario would be one in which:
• Students come first. Securing strong educational outcomes would be central to provincial education policies regardless of the sector in which students are educated.
• The public good is served. The independent school sector sought not merely to gain from greater recognition as a sector but to serve the public good through increased partnership with public schools.
• Mutual support is developed between government and independent schools. A renewed relationship will help foster and create recognition, support, and regulation for each sector.
• All levels are addressed. There needs to be a partnership between public and independent sectors at all levels in order to share best practices, improve educational outcomes, increase efficiencies, and promote access to genuine parental choice.
This climate could foster an enormous variety of policy initiatives for the benefit of public education. The following policies from Professor Allison’s (2014) review might be implemented easily today, and would represent significant steps: 1) increased but professional, supportive, enlightened Ministry super vision; 2) greater inclusion in Ontario’s educational project opening doors to assessment and expertise and the reduction of non-education financial burdens such as eliminating the fees charged for ministry inspections and provincial testing.
The independent school sector has been left out of Ontario’s education policy conversations for too long. By providing leading educational stakeholders the opportunity to talk about a climate in which school sector diversity could continue to evolve and grow and flourish, we can begin warming up that climate to recognize the strengths of the independent sector and to include them in the policy discussions that will benefit all of Ontario’s students.
Allison, Derek. 2014. “Toward a Warmer Climate for Ontario’s Private Schools.” Hamilton: Cardus,
Brochu, Pierre, Marie-Anne Deussing, Koffi Houme, and Maria Chuy. 2013. “Measuring up: Canadian Results of the OECD PISA Study.” Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC). http://cmec.ca/Publications/Lists/Publications/Attachments/318/PISA2012_Ca nadianReport_EN_Web.pdf
Brennan, Richard. 2015. “Kathleen Wynne rips Monte McNaughton over sex-ed protest speech.” The Toronto Star. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/08/09/kathleen-wynne-rips monte-mcnaughton-over-sex-ed-protest-speech.html
Froese, Peter. “Recognition and Funding of Independent Schools in British Columbia.” Presentation at Toward a Warmer Climate Conference, Toronto, ON, November 5, 2015.
Gabel, Kevin. “Independent Schools in Saskatchewan: A brief overview.” Presentation at Toward a Warmer Climate Conference, Toronto, ON, November 5, 2015.
Hiemstra, John. “Alberta’s Journey towards Greater School Sector Diversity.” Presentation at Toward a Warmer Climate Conference, Toronto, ON, November 5, 2015.
Manitoba Education, 2015. FRAME Report 2013/14 Actual. Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning: Schools’ Finance Branch. http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/finance/frame_ report/2013-14_frame_actual.pdf
Pennings, Ray, et al. 2014. “Cardus Education Survey 2014: Private Schools for the Public Good.” Hamilton: Cardus.
Pennings, Ray, et al. 2012. “Cardus Education Survey: Phase II Report.” Hamilton: Cardus. Pennings, Ray, et al. 2011. “Cardus Education Survey: Phase I Report.” Hamilton: Cardus.
Van Pelt, Deani, Jason Clemens, and Joel Emes. 2015. “Enrolments and Education Spending in Public Schools in Canada.” Barbara Mitchell Centre for Improvement in Education, Fraser Institute.
Zwaagstra, Michael. “Education Diversity in Manitoba.” Presentation at Toward a Warmer Climate Conference, Toronto, ON, November 5, 2015.