For the last couple weeks all I have been hearing on the radio, on the news and in my own family (3 of us are teachers) has been the ongoing labour dispute between the public school teachers and provincial government. What has really irked me is the amount of misinformation that goes around whenever these two groups are fighting about British Columbia’s private schools. It truly is mind-boggling that there is so much ignorance in our society today. In this post I want to correct some of the most erroneous accusations I have heard thus far.
#1 – If we stopped funding Private schools we would have millions more to put into the public education system.
In BC, unlike other provinces which get full funding, private/independent schools are only supported 50% by the government. That means that parents have to come up with the other half to educate their children. But, Catholic schools also have to fund 100% of their building and maintenance costs. Schools cost millions of dollars to build and maintain. You only need a basic understanding of economics to figure out that this set up SAVES the government a tonne of money. If private schools were not partially funded a lot of parents would have to send their kids to public schools. Not only would the government have to build more schools to handle the influx, but they would also have to fund these students fully instead of partially.
#2 – Public money should not be funding religious schools!
This one is an interesting one because it doesn’t make logical sense to me. Religious people are also tax payers and thus should have a say as to where their money is going. If all our tax dollars went to organizations that were secular doesn’t that demonstrate an intolerant attitude? As if secularism is the only way to be? Securlaism screams the loudest from the pulpit about diversity and equality, and yet won’t grant this same curtesy to people of faith. How tolerant of them.
#3 – Private schools are for the rich
While I won’t disagree that there are private schools that have exuberant tuition costs, but this is not the case for the vast majority of private schools (or independent) where many families struggle to pay the tuition. My parents sacrificed a lot to send their kids to Catholic school and in all my years of Catholic education I only knew a handful of kids who were well off.
#4 – Private schools have smaller class sizes and no special needs students, that’s why they do better.
Again, not going to argue about the high end private schools offering smaller class sizes, but I do know that the Catholic schools have similar class sizes to the public schools. Some years I had classes with 33 students and our schools also have a lot of special needs and ESL students.