Apparently, there will be a public protest at the Toronto District School Board’s headquarters (at 5050 Yonge Street) on July 25th at 5:30pm. For a map, check out this link. The protest, I assume, is to demand that the TDSB cancel the Friday Muslim prayer service at Valley Park Middle School. As such, I would recommend as many people attend as possible — as opposed to only those who have an official religious affiliation — if Ontarians want to send a message to provincial politicians and TDSB trustees and administrators.
As regular readers know, I have been following this topic for several days now (see here and here). See also this Google link on the latest news — indicating the topic is finally getting broad-based media coverage.
Interestingly, this whole discussion has caused me to rethink the possibility of parent “choice” for public school funding because, frankly, for the past few years I have been in favour of that concept and supported the notion of faith-based funding in the last Ontario election in October 2007.
However, as a result of this latest issue, and the discussions it has generated, I have modified my support to include only subject specialty programs and schools — such as those geared to academic excellence, for the visual arts, sports, music and so on. For example, in terms of the faith-based option, check out Paul Bennett’s blog discussion here, where, as of this writing, his post had received 141 comments. Meaning, as the 2007 election showed, Ontarians do not want their taxes used for any kind of faith based initiatives in public schools!
The key point to remember is that, during that fall 2007 election campaign, the Ontario Liberals said such a policy was wrong because it would be divisive. Yet, here we are in Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario, and we are learning that his government has done absolutely nothing to stop the TDSB’s practice of providing Muslims with time and space to pray in public schools — referred to as accommodations — as well as permitting a 40 minute prayer service at Valley Park Middle School shortly after the lunch break on Friday afternoon.
Talk about hypocrisy and being divisive.
Perhaps, however, there could be a compromise. As I have mentioned before, Eden High School in St. Catharines is allowed to hold chapel services before the official day starts. Perhaps that is a solution for the Muslims and other religious groups — permit them to provide short services early in the morning or after the official school day ends. Yes, they would be using public school property. But, then, we also have a separate school system that is representative of one religion, Catholic, using public funding and public property.
Something to think about.
Endnote: For the Ontario PC Party to say they don’t want to revisit the faith-based funding issue is understandable. But, to suggest such decisions are up to public school boards is both a cop-out and cowardly. It is up to politicians to decide!So, I hope they eventually take a principled stand on this issue if for no other reason than gender equality. In the Valley Park case in point, there are allegations that girls are being treated like second class citizens by being separated from the boys and on the basis of whether or not they are menstruating. Surely, the PCs don’t condone that happening on the public dime.