I usually approve of your stance on most things but I think you are waaaay off base on the school system (The 3 Rs, June 22, 2017 print paper). With the public and Catholic systems we have choice. Obviously I am not the only one. While the public system is closing schools the Catholic system is bursting at the seams. From personal experience I know the importance of choice.
My boys were larger than most, had dyslexia, ADD, and loved to tease. Had we stayed in the overcrowded schools in Brampton they would have ended up in jail. The public system wanted to put them at the back of the class and give them extra help. On the advice of a neighbour with a son with ADD we sent them to the Catholic system. I had to redirect my taxes and the bus trip was long, but the result was wonderful.
They did not get Catechism classes, but they did get religion class whereby they studied ALL religions and if their belief system was different, it was debated not put down (even belief in ghosts and extraterrestrials). St. Mary's accepted kids that were thrown out of other schools and turned them around into good citizens, instead of criminals. The result was that my boys ended up with college and university and good solid jobs, and leadership skills to be proud of.
Don't judge the school system by the costs. Judge them by the results. It costs less to keep kids in schools that accommodates their problems than in the the prison system. The two systems work because we have choices. Both systems teach the same things to all religions. It is the way it is taught that changes, and for us we say, "Thank God we made the right choice."
Roberta Docherty, Meaford
Editor's note: For those who don't purchase our print paper, there are always articles included that don't appear online including the popular 3Rs...Rants, Raves & Rumours opinion column on page 11 each week. For context, here is what had been included in the June 22 3 Rs that is referred to in this letter:
While I have great respect for people's religious beliefs, I'm a firm believer in the separation of church and state, which is why I've always been bothered that Ontario has two separate school systems – the public system and the Catholic system. Now, I've got nothing against religious schools, I just don't think they should be funded with public tax dollars. A group called OPEN (One Public Education Now) is hoping to change that as they launch a legal challenge against separate school funding. A recent column on the CBC website captured many of my own thoughts on the issue.
“The reason Catholic schools receive public funding in Ontario goes all the way back to Confederation. Other provinces like Quebec and Newfoundland have done away with funding for separate school boards, and Charles Pascal of OPEN thinks the rest of the country should follow suit,” read part of the column, and I agree with Pascal. “Flash forward 150 years,” Pascal said. “We're living in a multicultural society with lots of other religions that need to be respected. The notion that a single religious education schooling system receives public money is simply an anachronism.”
Indeed. I think this grassroots group is smart to use the courts to try to make change, since for politicians, issues like this can be too hot to handle for fear of losing the votes of Catholic school supporters, as Toronto mayor John Tory discovered a decade ago while running for the leadership of Ontario's Progressive Conservative party. Tory lost that bid for the leadership, and many critics suggested that his stance on religious school funding was a big part of the reason. It will be interesting to see how the courts respond to this issue.