Ontario schools to poor people: suck it

Ontario schools to poor people: suck it

One thing that the provincial Liberals are proud of as they run for a third term is their record in education. Full-day kindergarten, lower dropout rates, more spending in post-secondary education: these are all things the Grits will be certain to make sure people know about before October’s election. The problem, according to The Globe and Mail, is that Ontario’s high schools are increasingly charging fees that are at best exploiting loopholes and at worst are illegal.

According to The Globe:

High schools across Ontario are padding their budgets with parent-generated funds, including fees for core courses and basic operations that violate provincial laws, according to a school survey by People for Education.

Through photocopying fees, gym uniform charges, and the like some schools raised as much as $90,000 while others, many with a high proportion of low-income students, raised less than $1,000. Six per cent charged fees for English classes, which are mandatory in every grade, and 14 per cent charged fees for science, in which one credit is required for graduation.

“It’s the Wild West out there in terms of fees, and no one’s tracking these private funds that are flowing into public education,” said Annie Kidder, People for Education’s executive director.

It’s one thing to charge for field trips and proms, but charging for English classes? We assume the six per cent of schools charging for English are charging for textbooks and not just admission. Given that English is a required credit throughout Ontario high schools, the fee is a bit much to ask—especially of lower-income parents.

Based on the article, it sounds like teachers and principals are trying to make more room in their budgets within the regulations—but that makes the regulations (and those who write them, hint hint) the problem. We sure hope the Liberals are paying attention to this issue: The Globe reporter who wrote this article is Kate Hammer, whose last big scalp was Tim Trow at the Toronto Humane Society. There’s no evidence yet that she’s hunting for Liberals, but it’s probably not something Dalton McGuinty wants to test.

• Most Ontario high schools charge illegal course fees [Globe and Mail]