There is no question that this is a victory for truth today: Frank Klees, education critic
A private member’s resolution to secure the exclusive commitment of the legislative assembly of Ontario to public education and opposing government funding to independent schools was defeated yesterday.
The resolution, brought forward by MPP Peter Fonseca (Mississauga East) states, “the Legislative Assembly of Ontario affirms that its commitment to students in the public education system is so strong that it opposes any attempt to take public money and hand it over to private schools.”
The motion was debated in the legislative assembly while supporters of independent schools observed from the member’s gallery.
According to the Hansard, Fonseca gave several reasons for the resolution including the need to continue to fund public education to avoid public school closures and instability.
Three Liberals and one NDP voted in favour of the resolution, while the majority of the Conservatives were in attendance and voted against. There were many independent school supporters present but the Liberals attendance was sparse.
Opposition education critic Frank Klees spoke against the resolution in the debate.
“I found the resolution itself to be highly offensive, and I did not hesitate to express that in the debate,” says Klees.
“There is no question that this is a victory for truth today, because what was being reported and advanced in the legislature was falsehood,” says Klees of Fonseca’s presentation in favour of the resolution.
Barb Bierman is an Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) consultant and Parents for Educational Choice spokesperson. She helped inform parents and independent school supporters of the resolution the days prior to the vote.
Independent schools have never advocated taking money away from children in public schools, she says.
She says parents and supporters of independent schools wrote to their MPP’s and encouraged them not to attend the vote.
Bierman was not the only independent school supporter in the member’s gallery. Students from Bais Chomesh High School and representatives from the Multi-Faith Coalition for Equal Funding of Faith-Based Schools joined her.
“(Independent school supporters) are very persistent and they are very consistent in their messaging, and they don’t really resort to a lot of the tactics,” says Bierman. “We just show up, and we keep showing up.”
The OACS represents 79 Christian schools in the province. OACS communications director John Vanasselt says he is surprised there was any support of this resolution.
“It is deeply offensive to kids who are not in the public school system to think their government has no room for any commitment or support to them,” says Vanasselt.
As of posting time Fonseca was not available for comment.