ANCASTER- It is good public policy for parents to be able to choose their type of publicly-funded school, says Patrick Daly, chairperson of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
“I want to offer my and my board’s deep respect for the work that you and other faith-based schools do,” Daly told the audience at Redeemer University College’s Education Symposium May 10. He said he supports the goal to have publicly funded independent schools.
Daly says he is confident funding for other faith-based schools would not negatively impact the public education system. He says to provide funding for other faith-based independent schools is “the right and appropriate thing to do.”
The symposium featured the results from a recent provincial study on private schools. Daly and Dr. Adrian Guldemond, executive director of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS), responded to the presentation.
Deani Van Pelt, Derrick Allison and Patricia Allison authored the study and presented their findings at the symposium. The study is the result of surveying 919 Ontario households who choose to send their children to a private school.
The study focuses on the differences between non-public schools, which parents choose these schools and why. The top reasons include the dedication of teachers, school safety, academic quality and teaching of right from wrong.
“I did not find any of the data, in terms of the characteristics of private schools, school parents, or the reasons … to be surprising,” says Daly.
Daly says the results from the study regarding the reason parents choose faith-based education is “a real cause for hope and celebration.” He says it reflects the desire to educate the child in body, mind and soul.
“In times when people say how secular our society is, those findings are very hopeful,” he says.
Daly suggested items he would like to see further explored in a study. He says he would like more information on the transfer in population from the public to the private education system.
In 1960, 1.9 per cent of the student population attended private schools and by 2006 this number rose to 5.6 per cent.
“Clearly, over the past 50 years or so there have been many changes (to the public school system),” he says.
In Ontario, Catholic schools received full funding since 1984. Other faith-based schools are considered to be private or independent, and parents pay tuition for their children to attend.