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Saturday, October 4, 2003

Painting the Town Red

We just had our provincial elections and the Liberals won by a landslide, sweeping the Tories (who won the last two elections by a landslide) out of power and reducing them to a mere 24 seats. The NDP (New Democratic Party) lost big time. They are now reduced to 7 seats, which causes them to lose official party status as they have less than the minimum required seats (8). Last election they also lost seats and were going to lose official party status until the law was changed on their behalf. At the rate they're going, they may soon find themselves as popular as the Green party or the Freedom party (whoever they are). I say, good riddance. Here in my riding, it was a close race. A good percentage of the people who live here are Jewish and quite a few of those are Orthodox. The Orthodox (and a percentage of those who are Conservative and Reform) send their children to Jewish private day schools (what used to be referred to as parochial schools). To put it bluntly, we've been looking for a break on our tuition and want the government to kick in. The Tories had "promised" that they would do something about it (to be more accurate, some politicians gave the indication of a "maybe" they'll do something about it). The Liberals, on the other hand, said explicitly that they will not fund private schools. At the same time, they also promised to put more money into public education. So, you can guess who voted for whom if they had kids in a Jewish day school. Just for the record, my son has recently started preschool in a Jewish school. I can understand the reluctance of people regarding the handing over of public money to what is a private institution. However, they do seem to forget that we are taxpayers like anyone else. I have heard the various arguments over the issue. I'd like to add my own argument (which may or may not have been articulated by someone else). The government saves a lot of money due to private schools. Why? Because for every child enrolled in a private school is a child not enrolled in public school. And a child not enrolled in public school means the government will not have to fund that child which it would automatically do if that child was there. Consider this: Assume the government spends $3500 per year per child in public school (don't know the true statistics). Assume there are about 10,000 children in private school (also not a real statistic). That adds up to $35 million per year that the government does not have to pay. Imagine what would happen if all private school children went to public school? There would be grumbling, but the end result would be that they would pay it. I think it is reasonable for us to ask for a piece of the education funds. After all, the children are getting educated.


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