Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Funding faith-based schools, good?

Conflicted, that was my initial reaction when I read that the Government of Saskatchewan has decided to fund faith-based schools this year. I have several conflicts about that.
I'm not a fan of religious anything (except maybe foods), let alone education, and governments shouldn't be funding education or even involved in it. Of course when governments do fund education, as they do in most jurisdictions, there is also the conflict that religious teaching should not be something that taxpayers are forced to support - that's the church and state conflict. So you might be surprised with my considered opinion on this issue. I think this new funding is a step in the right direction. Why?

Where I live in Ontario, the provincial government funds the public system and since the mid-1980's it also funds all Roman Catholic Schools. Of course this is controversial, but it's a constitutional issue that goes back to the founding of Canada. That doesn't make it right, thats just the way it is. Why not fund all religions?

In an editorial today the Globe and Mail disagrees with Saskatchewan's decision. Its chief concern is that this new funding emphasizes the "separateness" in the schools, in what is becoming a very diverse population. This is very typical of the statist view in Canada. On the one hand Canadian governments encourage bilingualism, and multiculturalism because diversity brings new ideas, and new viewpoints to the Canadian population - its good. On the other hand the statists, including the major political parties, advocate 'sameness' in education to unify the country. As the Globe suggests: "A diverse population needs strong core institutions. It needs rallying points and meeting places, especially for its young people." So, separate schools are bad....unless of course they're Catholic...in Ontario. Confused yet? I am.

Why wouldn't it be a good thing to have diversity of choice in the schools, with competitive curriculums? Wouldn't that encourage schools to develop best practices that maybe produce better students and maybe give parents more options for their coerced tax dollars? I think it might. Would atheist/secular schools be funded?

It seems to me that if diversity of the population is good, so is diversity of the educational institutions, unless there is an ulterior motive, and of course there is. The state may not want competition of thought in the younger population, it wants unity, sameness of thinking. That is the best way to keep the ship of state from being rocked in the future. Or am I wrong? Why should their be more freedom of choice when the state can arbitrarily create less? That's really the issue isn't it, more freedom or less. The Globe suggests in the final line of its editorial:    "Diverse public schools are a multicultural society’s best way to promote unity, while still preserving difference." That almost sounds like Newspeak

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