School Choice

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has struck a blow for freedom. No longer will students attending the province’s Roman Catholic schools have to study religion.

Ontario has a two track publicly funded education system. You have your choice of the taxpayer-funded public (non-religious) and Catholic schools. You can also pay big dollars and send your children to a private school.

There are constitutional reasons for the system’s existence, going back 150 years and a Roman Catholic minority worried about assimilation. Catholics received a guarantee they could run their own school system. The choice is yours though – no-one is forced to attend a Catholic school. For a long time non-Catholics were not allowed in.

Apparently though there are those for whom that choice is not enough. A student at a Catholic School complained that she was required to take religious education courses and when she tried to opt out was pressured to remain in the class. I have to wonder though, if not for religion, why else would you send your children to a Catholic school?

Admittedly there are sometimes good reasons. I wanted my children educated in French, and where we lived at the time the nearest French-language public school was a 30 minute or more bus ride. The French Catholic school was a 10 minute walk. We opted for the walk. And my son and daughter took the religion classes.

It didn’t seem to hurt them. There were a few points of doctrine we didn’t accept, but that was a teaching moment for us as a family. We were able to explain what and why we believed what we did, acknowledging at the same time the diversity of belief within Christianity. I would usually join the class when it went to the church next door for Mass.

I didn’t pay as close attention when the children were in high school. By that point I figured they were mature enough to discern for themselves what was good or bad from what they were being taught. I got the impression that religion was a very different subject in urban Ottawa than it had been in small town Pembroke, presented as more of a requirement than a true belief. That saddened me a little.

The two publicly funded systems won’t last forever. I can see the day when the public swallows the Catholic. It has already happened in some places. That will be a sad day for the province when it happens.

One of the essentials of Roman Catholic thought (and Christian thought in general) is the desire to serve the other person, that there is a greater common good and it isn’t about me being the centre of the universe.

Parents who want to send their children to a Catholic school that is free of religious elements are teaching the opposite. They are saying they and their desires are more important than anything else, that collective rights (and responsibilities) are lesser than their rights. Please note: they are not standing up for individual rights, they want their desires catered to.

If I had been on the human rights tribunal, my response to the complaint would have been to tell them if they didn’t like Catholic teaching they were free to enroll their children elsewhere. That common sense approach is probably why I will never be appointed to such a tribunal.

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has struck a blow for freedom. No longer will students attending the province’s Roman Catholic schools have to study religion.

Ontario has a two track publicly funded education system. You have your choice of the taxpayer-funded public (non-religious) and Catholic schools. You can also pay big dollars and send your children to a private school.

There are constitutional reasons for the system’s existence, going back 150 years and a Roman Catholic minority worried about assimilation. Catholics received a guarantee they could run their own school system. The choice is yours though – no-one is forced to attend a Catholic school. For a long time non-Catholics were not allowed in.

Apparently though there are those for whom that choice is not enough. A student at a Catholic School complained that she was required to take religious education courses and when she tried to opt out was pressured to remain in the class. I have to wonder though, if not for religion, why else would you send your children to a Catholic school?

Admittedly there are sometimes good reasons. I wanted my children educated in French, and where we lived at the time the nearest French-language public school was a 30 minute or more bus ride. The French Catholic school was a 10 minute walk. We opted for the walk. And my son and daughter took the religion classes.

It didn’t seem to hurt them. There were a few points of doctrine we didn’t accept, but that was a teaching moment for us as a family. We were able to explain what and why we believed what we did, acknowledging at the same time the diversity of belief within Christianity. I would usually join the class when it went to the church next door for Mass.

I didn’t pay as close attention when the children were in high school. By that point I figured they were mature enough to discern for themselves what was good or bad from what they were being taught. I got the impression that religion was a very different subject in urban Ottawa than it had been in small town Pembroke, presented as more of a requirement than a true belief. That saddened me a little.

The two publicly funded systems won’t last forever. I can see the day when the public swallows the Catholic. It has already happened in some places. That will be a sad day for the province when it happens.

One of the essentials of Roman Catholic thought (and Christian thought in general) is the desire to serve the other person, that there is a greater common good and it isn’t about me being the centre of the universe.

Parents who want to send their children to a Catholic school that is free of religious elements are teaching the opposite. They are saying they and their desires are more important than anything else, that collective rights (and responsibilities) are lesser than their rights. Please note: they are not standing up for individual rights, they want their desires catered to.

If I had been on the human rights tribunal, my response to the complaint would have been to tell them if they didn’t like Catholic teaching they were free to enroll their children elsewhere. That common sense approach is probably why I will never be appointed to such a tribunal.

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