Follow us

Representation

Myths and Realities

Over the 160-year history of Catholic education in Ontario there have been groups and individuals who have called for the elimination of publicly funded Catholic schools. These attacks on our system have taken many forms, including books, articles, pamphlets, media advertisements, letters to the editor and recently an email petition campaign.  Whatever the motivation of these groups and individuals, their arguments and the rationale for their position are similar and are often filled with myths and inaccuracies.
In order to assist our community to speak to these issues, the following information is provided.
Myth
The Catholic system is a duplicate system that costs the taxpayers of Ontario hundreds of millions of dollars annual/y and should be amalgamated with the public school system to save money.

Reality

  • The Catholic system is not a duplicate of the public secular school system.
  • At the heart of Catholic education is the person of Jesus and the good news of His gospel.
  • We are a distinctly different faith-based system whose educational purpose is not only the transmission of knowledge but also the formation of the whole person, body, mind, and spirit so that our graduates can contribute to the transformation of the world in the image of God.
  • Catholic ratepayers represent approximately one-third of Ontario's tax revenue base and fund Catholic schools through their property, income, sales and other taxes.
  • Ontario went through a major amalgamation of school boards in 1998 and most economies of scale have now been realized. The history of school board amalgamations shows that amalgamating boards can in fact increase some costs. If all school systems amalgamated, the cost of salaries, benefits and services would rise to the highest level.  In addition, a great deal of money would be required for employee buyouts and restructuring costs.
  • Catholic and public school boards already save taxpayers millions of dollars annually through a variety of successful business partnerships in such areas as co-operative school financing, purchasing, transportation, energy management and other shared services.
  • Bigger is not necessarily better. A recent study by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation concedes:
  • "It does not seem feasible ... that a simple amalgamation of the 777 current schools in Metro Toronto with close to 22,000 teachers, 25,000 support staff and countless thousands of board administrative personnel  would in any way be financially feasible, accountable or ... acceptable to the citizens of Toronto"1

Myth
Catholic school boards unjustifiably discriminate in admitting only Catholic children to their schools and in hiring only Catholic teachers.

Reality

  • It is the constitutional mandate of Catholic schools to provide Catholic education to Catholic students.
  • Non-Catholic students can attend Catholic high schools.
  • Some Catholic school boards have policies that permit non-Catholic children to attend at the elementary level under certain conditions.
  • Catholic boards have the preferential right to hire Catholic teachers who can fulfill the responsibilities of a teacher in a Catholic school and who are knowledgeable about and committed to the values, goals and obligations of the Catholic education system.
  • A preferential hiring right is also extended to publicly-funded social welfare agencies that are language-based, culturally-based, or religiously-based. This right is specifically protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code.
  • We do not believe that it is unjustifiably discriminatory to employ people who are committed to the purpose and goals of the Catholic school system. No corporation, organization or business hires people and promotes them unless they share the goals and objectives of the corporate culture of these institutions.
  • There are many non-Catholic persons employed by Catholic school boards as teachers, administrators and support staff who share the values of our system and contribute in meaningful ways to the mission of Catholic schools.

Myth
It would be easy to eliminate Catholic schools in Ontario based on the precedent set in Newfoundland & Labrador and Quebec.
Reality

  • Educational, cultural, political and linguistic conditions that existed in Newfoundland & Labrador and Quebec differ from those that exist in Ontario.
  • The Catholic school system in Ontario has been a successful part of publicly funded education for over 160 years.
  • All three political parties in Ontario are on record as supporting the Catholic school system as an integral part of publicly funded education in Ontario.
  • French language Catholic schools educate nearly 80% of the French speaking the pupil population in Ontario (more than 72,000 students).
  • Catholic education in Ontario benefits from the support of a wide network of Catholic organizations including :
  • La Conférence des évêques catholiques de l’Ontario (CECO)
  • L’Office provinciale de l’éducation de la foi catholique en Ontario (OPECO)
  • Les parents partenaires en éducation (PPE)
  • L’Association des directions franco-ontariennes (ADFO)
  • L’Association des gestionnaires en éducation franco-ontarienne (AGEFO)
  • Le Conseil ontarien des directions de l’éducation catholique (CODEC)
  • L’Office provinciale de l’éducation de la foi catholique en Ontario (OPECO)
  • Catholic Principals Council of Ontario (CPCO)
  • Ontario Catholic Supervisory Officers’ Association (OCSOA)
  • Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA)
  • Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association (OCSTA)

This coalition of Catholic partners provides educational leadership, service and support for Catholic education.

  • The majority of Ontario's French language school system is Catholic and is supported by French parents and ratepayers whose rights are also constitutionally protected.
  • Attempts to eliminate Ontario's Catholic schools would be highly divisive.
  • The elimination of Catholic school boards would be complicated, costly and would create unwarranted and unjustified chaos for students, parents, teachers and communities who are an integral part of our publicly funded school system.

Myth
Catholic schools result in social and ethnic segregation which undermines the development of tolerance and respect for Ontarians of different backgrounds.

Reality

  • Students from many races and cultures attend and learn together in Catholic schools, as they do in public schools.
  • Catholic school curriculum instills in students the values of tolerance, respect, and inclusivity, love of neighbour and community service.
  • Our students are taught to respect and affirm the diversity and interdependence of the world's peoples, religions and cultures.

Conclusion
Catholic schools are a successful part of publicly funded education in Ontario. Our schools and school boards consistently meet or exceed provincial expectations in student achievement, program delivery, class size and character development. Our curriculum is purposely designed to produce graduates with good moral character who are responsible citizens, caring family members and collaborative contributors to the common good of Ontario's society. These are values that we celebrate and share with ail Ontarians.

We encourage parents, neighbours, community leaders and ail those who support the English and French Catholic school systems in Ontario to promote the good works and achievements of our students and teachers. Speak up for Catholic education! Ontario's publicly funded Catholic schools are part of a 160-year tradition that has enriched generations and with the continued support of ail of our Catholic partners and peers in education we will continue to educate and inspire generations to come.

1 Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation's Study on the Financial & Educational implications of implementing the Confederated School Board Model (2006)

Partners