3 thoughts on “Is Public Education Free in Ontario? Not Where I Live

  1. My sons went to school in a high income area. The money demands were endless. It all came to a head when we got a permission form for the play The Lion King. $120 for every child. That included the bus and the play. It was cancelled after parents complained.

    It was very tough to be a lower income child at the school. The trips and activities were all so expensive. The parent council held fundraisers for the principal’s discretionary fund. The principal could spend the money on anything he wanted and we all knew it was pay for trips and extras for students who didn’t have the money although none of the students knew.

    • For our primary school the majority of the children are now from very low income families. The school has made a deliberate choice to allow the teachers to request only one field trip or specialized in-class activity per year, with a maximum cost of $15. So it was quite a shock the first year one of our children moved into a new school and we received over $55 in requests for special activities for one MONTH. I’m not sure how long that will last as more and more of that school’s population will soon be coming from the very low income families also.

      It’s probably worse to be in the situation you describe where only a small number of the families have a lower income. Then the children can be made to feel like outsiders.

      It’s also much easier for children from well off families to blend in with children from less well off ones: I still remember how excited one of my children was when they found themselves wearing the same shirt as a close friend. Personally I thought “well I guess those parents shop at Zellers too.” I was so very, very glad that their school wasn’t full of expensive label designer clothes like one of the schools my nieces go to. Clothes can bring another whole set of school-related costs that people don’t expect.

  2. Our public education system is privileged to have an assured revenue stream, and what it has gotten us as parents is a castle full of educators, that OFTEN display a stunning hypocrisy on a number of child care and education issues — and those educators use EVERY lever of power they are allowed to do EXACTLY as they want in their castle. Oh, and I might add that I have NEVER seen an educator rock the boat, even those that understand the above — they are just too heavily invested in a system that rewards them with a resplendent compensation package that includes pensions and vacation that the rest of us (including high tech workers) can only dream about.

    The solution to all this is singular, and it does have its downsides (Maude Barlow who I respect deeply could enumerate the ‘corporate’ downsides for all of us I know, but I stand behind the only real solution, nonetheless). We need to be able, as parents, to take an EDUCATION TOKEN per child, to ANY school of our choice. The school then turns in the token for a slice of the public education fund that we tax payers provide. While some people are trying to have only ONE public funded education system, the REAL SOLUTION is to have MANY — offering REAL CHOICE to parents that are tired of fighting with little KINGS and QUEENS in our publicly funded systems of today.

    Add to the above solution an INDEPENDENT TESTING mechanism to replace the assessment (testing) of our childrens’ knowledge now done in the schools today, and we are finally on to something that will be palatable to the vast majority of parents / tax payers. I would also urge the complete relaxation of course requirements and ages associated with the taking of a subject. My child has learned NOTHING in math in 3 years of school. The above solution would deal with such nonsense soundly and finally. There are NO OBJECTIONS to this solution that I could not easily and comfortably counter (but no room to list them all here).

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