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The Privatization of Public Education
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) believes that a high quality education for all, irrespective of needs and abilities, should be enshrined as a basic human right in the Canadian Constitution. The way to guarantee this right is through a well-financed public education system.
ETFO is opposed to vouchers, charter schools, and providing public money for private schools. These approaches to education undermine the democratic principles upon which public schools are founded.
ETFO endorses the Canadian Teachers’ Federation policy stating “programs of corporate involvement should meet an identified education need, not a commercial motive.”
Public Education Benefits All
Public education is perhaps the most important investment our province can make – a public investment in each child, in society, and in the future of and all its citizens.
Public education is the cornerstone of a democratic society. The money spent on public education belongs to the public and benefits all Ontarians, whether or not they have children in the public school system. Public education is governed by local, democratically elected schools boards, representing all members of the community.
Public schools are the only schools that must meet the needs of all students. Every child, regardless of religion, race, family status, residence, or ability, has the opportunity to be included in a public education system.
Public education unites society, facilitating an understanding and tolerance that cannot be found elsewhere. All students deserve a quality education, not only in the academic skills required in a future work force, but in the social skills of responsibility, tolerance, understanding, and caring for others.
The Threat to Public Education
Globally, spending on all levels of education exceeds $1,000 billion. It is estimated that total public and private spending on all levels of education is double this. In Canada, total public spending on education exceeds $52 billion. In addition, according to Statistics Canada, children spend more than $1.5 billion annually, and influence the spending of more than an additional $15 billion. Many corporations want access to this “market.” For the most part, corporate involvement in our schools focuses on children as consumers, not on children as the citizens of tomorrow.
Over the years in Ontario, there has been much discussion about education reform. A vocal minority is calling for more privatization of education and more school choice.
Privatization of public education, through tax breaks for parents who send their children to private schools, charter schools, public-private partnerships, vouchers, commercialism in the schools, as well as some aspects of fundraising, contributes to*:
Commercialism in Canadian Schools: Who’s Calling the Shots?
This report of a national survey on commercialism in Canada’s schools, the result of a partnership between the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and the Fédération des syndicats de l’enseignement, was released in May 2006. Among other things, Who’s Calling the Shots? found that:
*Commercialism in Canadian schools: Who’s calling the shots? is available, along with more detailed provincial and territorial data, on the following websites: www.ctf-fce.ca www.policyalternatives.ca www.fse.qc.net