The Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) is encouraging its members to be engaged and informed for the upcoming election.
The provincial Progressive Conservative’s proposal to invite faith-based schools into the public system if they are elected on Oct. 10 is a much discussed campaign issue.
John Vanasselt, the OACS director of communications, says the OACS is comfortable with the Conservative’s proposal to fund faith-based schools.
“Our position is that since there are no more details, anything else is speculation and at this point we are very comfortable with the principles and we look forward to helping the PC’s and the implementation commission work out the details when the time comes,” says Vanasselt.
He adds that the OACS is in favour of public accountability for public money, and the three areas of compliance to receive funding as outlined by the Conservatives are not new to the schools.
The three areas are compliance with the Ontario curriculum, employing accredited teachers and participating in standardized testing. OACS schools already meet or exceed Ontario curriculum standards, students write provincial and national tests and all teachers have a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification, says Vanasselt.
The protocols and a plan to form a commission with former premier Bill Davis as chair to research how to implement the funding are the extent of what the Opposition leader John Tory has announced.
Vanasselt says many reports in the press have been speculation and not fact, and urges members to keep this in mind.
“Our view is since there are no more fine details out there yet it doesn’t serve anybody’s interest to worry about what could happen. We need to have this thing in place before we can decide how we feel about it,” says Vanasselt.
Vanasselt says he encourages members to be informed on a number of issues before voting in the election. People who feel faith-based funding is important should express that in public, he says. This could be through a letter to the editor and other forms of engagement, such as getting involved with their local riding office and ensuring they cast a ballot on election day, notes Vanasselt.
“I think this issue is important to a lot of Christian school people, so I would encourage them to get active and vocal about it,” he says. “If this proposal doesn’t get a chance to be implemented then I don’t see it coming back on the political agenda for a whole generation.”