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 Can Tuition Tax Credits 
Rescue Ontario Education?

December 13, 2007 
Mark WegierskispacerindentIf G.K. Chesterton’s observation, “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another,” is correct (as his observations usually were), then both the soul and educational system of Ontario are in jeopardy.

indentThe education offered in public schools in Ontario is clearly neither “value neutral” nor designed to reinforce traditions derived from home and family.

indentThe real crisis in the province’s educational system today — as opposed to the common complaint of “underfunding” — is the overwhelming atmosphere of political correctness, which deprives students of genuine ethics and morality and contributes to ever-deepening nihilism among young people.

indentThe typical large, urban high school is set, by many teachers and education-policy administrators, on a course of relentless war against “normal,” “mainstream,” and “majority” outlooks. To a large extent, these trends were launched by the Dennis-Hall Report of the 1960s. This official provincial paper, written by two self-described “progressives” in the first flush of Sixties radicalism, proposed massive reforms of public education, and its attitudes have now worked themselves into many areas of life in Ontario.

indentHistory is one of the most important programs of study for the future of society. It gives people a coherent sense both of the past and of a national, collective sense of meaning and purpose. A society with no real sense and love of its past is as abnormal as an individual who has no cherished personal memories.

indentIn the last four decades, the relatively small amount of history taught in the public high-school system tended to portray traditional Canada, Britain, and the West in general as a repository of racism, sexism, and oppression. Little that was positive was said about the Canada that existed before 1965, even less said in praise of the monarchy. Canadian history and national identity were essentially defined as the struggle of various “designated groups” against various kinds of oppressive majorities. Young Canadians of British or European descent were systematically stripped of a coherent community identity and taught to hate themselves and their history.

FGF E-Package offersindentIndeed, in the last four decades, anything smacking of a genuinely conservative or traditionalist outlook has been largely removed from the public educational systems in large urban areas.

indentThe educational system did not provide a counterweight to all the media and pop-culture trends. Even if some students could be found in the typical, large urban high school who are capable of intelligently expressing a conservative or traditionalist viewpoint, they have not been encouraged to do so. On the contrary, they were generally derided by their teachers and peers. The education offered was often directed to bleaching out any vestiges of social conservatism and traditionalism that could be identified among the students. The educational experts, were they so inclined, would be hard-pressed to point to even one large, urban, public high school in which a lively and truly diverse political debate takes place today.

indent In this same period, many of the norms, ethics, and standards in the educational system have been jettisoned in the name of “permissiveness” and the attack on the so-called authoritarian personality. The general breakdown of manners and school and social discipline is evident. Curiously, while death-metal music, voodoo, and body-piercings are permissible, the expression of any more-robust or substantive traditionalism is seen as “hateful” or “insensitive” — and accordingly proscribed.

indentAlso, in the last four decades, virtually all forms of traditional Christianity have been hounded from the educational system. The Christian ethos, which could provide a fortifying inoculation against many types of nastiness and incivility, has been jettisoned. The result increasingly is a vacuum that encourages nihilism and violence.

indentMany educational bureaucrats in Ontario have twisted the purpose of public education away from its proper mission and into furthering a pronounced left-liberal agenda. They have tried to put into practice, overtly and covertly, a highly anti-traditional, anti-historical, and anti-religious set of educational policies. They are deliberately trying to control the shape of the future by controlling the education of the young.

indentFrom the founding of the Dominion of Canada in 1867, education was the responsibility of the respective provinces, and Catholic primary- and secondary-school systems have been largely publicly funded. Despite — or perhaps precisely because of — public funding, Catholic education in most parts of the province differs little from that offered in the public education system.

[Breaker quote for Can Tuition Tax Credits Rescue Ontario Education?: Saving private schooling in Ontario]indentIn 1985, Progressive Conservative (PC) Premier Bill Davis promised to extend full public funding to Catholic secondary schools above grade 10 in Ontario; the result was an electoral disaster for his party, presumably because it alienated the core Protestant support — although the winning Liberal party did in fact fulfill that promise. In the 2007 provincial election campaign, John Tory, the leader of the PC party — reacting to the perceived inequality of public funding for a Catholic school system — promised to fully publicly fund all faith-based schools (including Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu schools) — but this also turned out to be an electoral disaster for the PCs.

indentA system of tuition tax credits for parents of children in private schools probably would have been far more effective in improving education and more-defensible to the electorate as a policy plank for the PCs than the proposal to fully fund faith-based schools while requiring those schools to teach the provincial curriculum. That curriculum could encompass such issues as sex education and the inculcation of “anti-homophobic” attitudes.

indentIn May 2001, the provincial government of Progressive Conservative Mike Harris introduced legislation allowing for substantial tuition tax credits for parents of children attending private schools. However, with the triumph of Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals in the 2003 provincial election, that legislation had been shelved.

indentAlthough the Ontario Progressive Conservative party is probably unwilling and unprepared for a raw battle over ethos, perhaps some reinforcement of real diversity and pluralism of belief in the educational system could occur as a result of a “cost-effectiveness” and “value for taxpayers’ money” approach.

indentThe enactment of tuition tax credits for private primary- and secondary-level schooling would probably result in increasing numbers of truly diverse, private educational institutions. This could be enough to persuade the educational-policy administrators and radical leaders of unions to behave more responsibly — and with greater commitment to true intellectual freedom.

Mark Wegierski

Copyright © 2007 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate.
This column may not be reprinted in print or
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of the Griffin Internet Syndicate

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