Give us some credit

Two weeks ago, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced in the provincial budget that parents who send their children to private schools will be eligible for a tax credit of up to $3,500. Teachers’ unions have denounced the credit as an attack on public education, but Flaherty has defended the incentive, saying “this is not about reducing funding for public education.” We beg to differ.

The minister has ignored the fact that funds are allocated to public schools based on the level of enrollment. For every student who migrates from the public system less dollars and resources are granted to public boards, which will reduce quality.

If public schools deteriorate, concerned parents will have no where else to turn but the private sector. Concerned parents who can afford to foot the bill, that is.

More than two million students in Ontario attend public schools, while over 100,000 attend private schools. If the balance shifts because of the credit, those left on the wrong side will surely suffer.

Many parents send their children to private schools for philosophical or religious reasons, but others turn to the private sector because they lack confidence in a public education.

The Tories can’t expect to reassure doubters of the public system if they don’t even support it themselves.

This is not to suggest that the credit will cause a stampede to the admissions office at Upper Canada College or Branksome Hall. It’s not nearly enough to put a dent in their $14, 000 tuitions. It is however, enough to give us a scare.

It is true that we at Queen’s pay for a portion of our education, an education that many people could not afford even if the University accepted them based on merit. Admittedly, we also benefit from the University’s reputation, a reputation built on the backs of many elite private high schools who send their graduates to Queen’s.

Though it would be hypocritical of us to criticize the private system altogether, that doesn’t mean we can’t voice our concern over a government that seems intent on excluding, not including.

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