Transcript: Private vs Public Education | May 23, 2001

(music plays)

An animated slate shows the title inside the shape of a house: "More to family." The opening sequence shows a wooden table with a small lit candle. Fast clips show different sets of hands performing activities on the table such as pulling petals from a daisy, drawing a big red heart, tuning a violin, flipping through the pages of a book, cooking, and pouring a glass of red wine. In animation, the title appears inside the shape of a house: "More to life."

Then, Maureen Taylor appears in a studio with textured yellow walls and the logo of the show in the background, which reads "More to life."

Maureen is in her late thirties, with wavy auburn hair in a bob. She's wearing a gray blazer and a patterned red and blue scarf.

She says GOOD AFTERNOON AND WELCOME TO "MORE TO LIFE'S" I'M MAUREEN TAYLOR. TWO WEEKS AGO FINANCE MINISTER JIM FLAHERTY DROPPED A BOMB IN HIS BUDGET SPEECH. A TAX CREDIT FOR PARENTS WHO SEND THEIR CRIDZ TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS. NEXT YEAR THAT CREDIT WILL AMOUNT TO 10 percent OF TUITION, UP TO 700 dollars. IN FIVE YEARS YOU'LL BE ABLE TO CLAIM 50 percent OF TUITION COSTS TO A MAXIMUM OF 3,500 dollars. THE GOVERNMENT SAYS THIS REBATE IS GEARED TO MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES WHO OPT FOR RELIGIOUS OR CULTURAL SCHOOLING. OPPONENTS SAY THIS IS ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO TAKE MONEY OUT OF THE PUBLIC SYSTEM AND A VOUCHER IN ALL BUT NAME. BUT HOW WILL THIS TAX CREDIT ACTUALLY AFFECT FAMILIES AND THE DECISIONS THEY MAKE ABOUT THEIR CHILDRENS' EDUCATION? JOINING TO US DISCUSS THIS ISSUE ARE ANNIE KIDDER OF PEOPLE FOR EDUCATION, A GRASSROOTS EDUCATION ADVOCACY GROUP AND GREG REID, CHAIR OF THE ONTARIO PARENT COUNCIL, APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNMENT.

Annie is in her late thirties, with shoulder-length wavy auburn hair. She's wearing glasses and a beige tunic.
Greg is in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He's wearing a white shirt and a patterned brown tie.

Maureen continues BOTH OF OUR GUESTS HAVE CHILDREN IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM. SO DO I. BUT FOR HOW LONG? WILL THE TAX CREDIT LEAD YOU TO CONSIDER A MOVE TO PRIVATE EDUCATION? WILL THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD IT YANK THEIR KIDS OUT OF PUBLIC SCHOOL? GIVE US A CALL YOUR COMMENTS.

A caption reads "416-484-2727. 1-888-411-1234."
Then, it changes to "moretolife@tvo.org"

Maureen continues GREG, WHY DO YOUR KIDS ATTEND PUBLIC SCHOOL?

Greg says MY KIDS ATTEND PUBLIC SCHOOL BECAUSE THEY'RE VERY HAPPY THERE AND IT'S WORKING FOR THEM. I HAVE SON IN ELEMENTARY PUBLIC SCHOOL AND HE'S ENJOYING A VERY CHALLENGING CURRICULUM AND IS HAPPY WHERE HE IS, HAS EXTRA CURRICULARS, THINGS ARE GOING WELL. MY OTHER SON IS IN SECONDARY SCHOOL, IS AT A PUBLIC SECONDARY SCHOOL THAT OFFERS AN INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE PROGRAMME SO HE'S VERY HAPPY WITH THAT, HE'S ABLE TO GET THAT CURRICULUM.

Maureen says WERE YOU ALWAYS THIS HAPPY WITH THE PUBLIC SYSTEM?

The caption changes to "Greg Reid. Ontario Parent Council."

Greg says LET'S SAY HAPPINESS IS A RELATIVE THING. THERE ARE THINGS THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED WITH THE PUBLIC SYSTEM AND THERE ARE CONSTANT IMPROVEMENTS TO MAKE IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM BUT WE'RE COMMITTED TO THE PUBLIC SYSTEM AND TO IMPROVING THAT.

Maureen says BUT HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TEMPTED TO PULL THEM OUT AND PUT THEM A PRIVATE SCHOOL?

Greg says OH, INDUBITABLY. I THINK FOR EXAMPLE GOING BACK TO '97 WHEN THE TWO-WEEK WILDCAT WALK-OUT OF TEACHERS TOOK PLACE. WHEN A PARENT LOSES CONTROL OF THEIR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION IN A SITUATION LIKE THAT YOU'VE GOT TO START LOOKING AT WHAT OTHER OPTIONS DO I HAVE? WHAT ASPECTS OF THIS ARE GOING TO AFFECT MY KIDS' EDUCATION.

Maureen says WHAT ABOUT YOU, ANNIE? WOULD YOU CONSIDER PRIVATE EDUCATION FOR YOUR CHILDREN?

The caption changes to "Annie Kidder. People for Education."

Greg says NO, NOT RIGHT NOW. I MEAN, I THINK THAT SOMETIMES IT IS HARD BECAUSE THERE'S BEEN SO MUCH DESTABILIZATION AND THERE'S BEEN SO MUCH MONEY BEEN TAKEN OUT OF SYSTEM, BUT FOR ME WHAT THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM GIVES MY KIDS IS... I HAVE TWO VERY DIFFERENT KIDS WHO ARE, WHO LEARN VERY DIFFERENTLY, AND IT SERVES BOTH OF THEM REALLY WELL, AND ALSO THEY ARE PART OF A COMMUNITY. THEY'RE IN TWO DIFFERENT SCHOOLS AND THEY'RE REALLY PART OF A VERY VERY STRONG COMMUNITY IN EACH OF THOSE SCHOOLS AND THEY'VE HAD FABULOUS TEACHERS AND LOTS OF... YOU KNOW, ALL OF THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF HELP THAT THEY'VE NEEDED. BUT FOR ME, I THINK AS MUCH AS ANYTHING IT'S THAT SENSE OF BELONGING, THE SCHOOL THE HEART OF OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD AND THEY LIVE IN THAT NEIGHBOURHOOD AND GO TO THE NEIGHBOURHOOD SCHOOL AND IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO THEM.

Maureen says THERE IS A PERCEPTION THOUGH THAT SOMEHOW PRIVATE SCHOOLS OFFER CHILDREN A BETTER ACADEMIC EDUCATION. IS THERE ANY RESEARCH TO BACK THAT UP? DO EITHER OF YOU KNOW?

Greg says YOU HIT THAT ONE ON THE HEAD MAUREEN. THERE WAS AN INDEPENDENT POLL PUBLISHED IN "THE GLOBE and MAIL" RECENTLY THAT SAID THAT 72 percent OF ONTARIANS BELIEVE THAT CHILDREN GET A BETTER EDUCATION IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

Maureen says BUT THAT'S THE PERCEPTION. IS THERE ANY EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THAT? SUPPORT THAT PERCEPTION?

Greg says WELL PUT IT THIS WAY. HERE WE ARE AS THE TAXPAYERS SO WE FUND THE SYSTEM. AND 72 percent OF PEOPLE HAVE THEIR PERCEPTION THAT THINGS ARE WRONG. I THINK THAT WHAT WE HAVE SHEER AN OPPORTUNITY, REALLY, TRULY AN OPPORTUNITY AND THAT OPPORTUNITY IS FOR THE PUBLIC SYSTEM TO EXAM WHY THAT PERCEPTION OF 72 percent OF PEOPLE SAYS THAT THINGS ARE BETTER IN THE PRIVATE SYSTEM.

Annie says BUT THEY DON'T SAY THINGS ARE WRONG, THEY SAY THAT THERE IS THE SENSE THAT... THE THING ABOUT THE PRIVATE SYSTEM IS THAT THEY CAN EXCLUDE WHO EVER THEY WANT. AND SO YOU CAN THEN HAVE VERY SMALL CLASSES, YOU DENT HAVE TO HAVE ANY SPECIAL ED KIDS IN YOUR CLASS, ANY PEOPLE WHO DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH. YOU CAN HAVE A VERY SORT OF HOMOGENOUS GROUP. IN DIFFERENT TYPES OF... TYPES OF SCHOOLS YOU KNOW YOU'RE GOING TO BE TEACHING ONE GROUP THAT ARE ALL THE SAME SO IT'S SIMPLER THAT WAY. WHAT YOU'RE MISSING... SO THERE ARE REASONS THEN. I THINK THERE IS A REASON. IF I THINK OF BISHOP STRACHAN OR HAVERGAL OR A PRIVATE SCHOOL LIKE THAT I THINK IT'S MUCH EASIER TO TEACH A STRONG ACADEMIC PROGRAMME BECAUSE THEY DON'T LET ANYBODY IN WHO'S GOING TO STRUGGLE WITH IT. BUT WHAT'S MISSING FROM THOSE SCHOOLS IS THEY ARE SEGREGATED FROM THE REST OF SOCIETY IN A WAY.

Maureen says NOW BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? PARENTS WHO AREN'T IDEALLIZED ABOUT PUBLIC EDUCATION JUST GO MY KID'LL LEARN TO DEAL WITH DIFFERENT PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS EVENTUALLY. I WANT HIM TO GET INTO THE BEST UNIVERSITY, RIGHT? AND SO THEY'RE THINKING WILL THIS 3,500 dollars MAKE HAVERGAL FORDABLE TO ME?

Annie says NO, I THINK THEY DEFINITELY WILL THINK THAT AND I MEAN, THAT'S MY CONCERN ABOUT THE 3,500 dollars. IS THAT IT'S NOT HAPPENING IN A VACUUM. IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE NOT LOOK AT THIS AS SOMETHING THAT'S HAPPENING IN ISOLATION. IT'S HAPPENING AT THE SAME TIME AS WE'VE HAD FIVE YEARS OF CUTS AND CUTS AND CUTS AND CUTS AND CUTS...

Greg says WELL WAIT A SECOND, YOU SAY CUTS AND CUTS AND CUTS BUT THE FUNDING WAS AT A FLEFL 1995 OF 12.8 BILLION dollars, IT'S ALMOST 14 BILLION dollars TODAY.

Maureen says YEAH, BUT YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THE POPULATIONS IN THE SCHOOLS...

Annie says AND HOW WE DO OUR ACCOUNTING.

Greg says THAT MORE THAN COMPENSATES FOR ENROLLMENT.

Maureen says ARE YOU SAYING THE CHILD SPENDING NOW IS HIGHER THAN IT'S EVER BEEN? US A BECAUSE IT'S NOT FROM OUR RESEARCH?

Greg says NO, PUT IT THIS WAY, ANNIE YOU GAVE MEET FIGURE OF 6,800 DOLLARS IN THE CHILDREN OF THIS SYSTEM. MANY OF THE SCHOOLS THAT ARE PRIVATELY OPERATED CHARGE AS LITTLE AS 5,000 dollars AND 6,000 dollars FOR TUITION. THEY SPEND LESS.

Maureen says THEY SPEND LESS ON THEIR TEACHERS.

Annie says YES, THEY DO.

Greg says WHATEVER THE CASE MAY BE, IT'S AN OPTION OF CHOICE AND THAT CHOICE THRONDZ ACCOUNTABILITY. AND THAT'S THE KEY IN THIS WHOLE THING, AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED. THE POSITIVE THAT I'LL TAKE OUT OF THIS MOVE IS THAT THERE'S NOW A STEP FOR ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE AVERAGE MIDDLE CLASS OR LOWER MIDDLE CLASS PERSON TO BE ABLE TO TAKE A LOOK AND SAY HEY, NOW MAYBE I'VE GOT AN OPTION IF I'M HITTING A DEAD WALL IN TERMS OF TALKING TO THAT TEACHER OR THE PRINCIPLE, THE BOARD, IN TRYING TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS THAT MY SON OR DAUGHTER IS EXPERIENCING IN THE SYSTEM. NOW I'VE GOT A BIT OF AN OPTION.

The caption changes to "Today's topic: Public education system."

Annie says AND I GUESS FOR ME, I MEAN, IF THAT'S, IF THAT'S HOW WE'RE LOOKING AT IT IF WE'VE DECIDED THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM SHOULD RUN LIKE A BUSINESS AND BE COMPETITIVE, WHICH I HAVE REAL PROBLEM WITH ANYWAY, THAT WHAT WE NEED TO BE DOING THEN IS THEN SUPPORTING THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM AS MUCH AS WE CAN AND THAT THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT, WHO ARE THE ONES WHO TOTALLY, ABSOLUTELY CONTROL THE SYSTEM, NOW NEED TO MAKE SURE IT'S WORKING PROPERLY AND THEY NEED TO BE DOING EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO MAKE SURE THAT SYSTEM'S WORKING PROPERLY BEFORE THEY START FUNDING THE PRIVATE SYSTEM.

The phone numbers and email reappear briefly.

Maureen says THERE WAS A COLUMNIST FOR THE "NATIONAL POST" TODAY, ANDREW KHEUN WHO SAYS THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION, NOT JUST FOR THE REASONS YOU TALK ABOUT, GREG, THEY'LL PULL THEMSELVES UP BY THEIR BOOT STRAPS TO COMPETE, BUT THE GOVERNMENT HAS PROMISED TO LEAVE FUNDING LEVELS IN PUBLIC EDUCATION WHERE THEY ARE AND HE SAYS AS PARENTS PULL THEIR KIDS OUT TO GO TO PRIVATE SCHOOL, YOU WILL SPEND MORE PER STUDENT IN PUBLIC EDUCATION. ANDY, WHAT, WHAT'S THAT LOOK ON YOUR FACE, ANNIE?

Annie says I HAVE NOT HEARD THE GOVERNMENT PROMISE TO LEAVE THE FUNDING THERE, AT ALL, IF EVER, ONCE, AND WHEN OFF SCHOOL BOARD THAT SCHOOL BOARD IS FUNDED ON A PER PUPIL BASIS. THAT'S HOW THEY GET THEIR MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT. IF THEY HAVE FEWER PUPILS, THEY WILL GET LESS MONEY, THAT'S HOW EDUCATION FUNDING WORKS IN THE PROVINCIAL OF ONTARIO. NOW IF THEY'VE DECIDED WITH THIS BUDGET TO CHANGE THE WAY EDUCATION FUNDING WORKS IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO I'D LIKE TO HEAR ABOUT IT, BUT THEY'VE CERTAINLY NOT SAID THAT. SO FOR EVERY STUDENT THAT LEAVES THE SYSTEM, THE GOVERNMENT SAVES SOMEWHERE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD, I THINK IN LOTS OF CASES MORE, AROUND 7 dollars THOUT SO THAT WILL IS ULTIMATELY... YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE AN INCENTIVE TO LEAVE THE SYSTEM, YOU HAVE MUB GOING INTO THE PRIVATE SAT SYSTEM AND YOU HAVE THE GOVERNMENT SAVING MONEY OUT OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM.

Maureen says DO YOU BELIEVE THEY'LL LEAVE FUNDING LEVELS ARE, NO MATTER IF THE ENROLLMENT DROPS, GREG?

Greg says I HOPE THEY WILL. I TRULY HOPE THEY WILL AND THE MONEY CAN BE REINVESTED IN IMPROVEMENTS IN SCHOOLS. THAT'S ONE THING. BUT TO SAY THE 4.7 percent OF THE CHILDREN IN ONTARIO WHO ARE NOW IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS... YOU KNOW, THE PRIVATE SCHOOL ASSOCIATIONS HAVE COME OUT AND SAID THAT THEY DON'T ANTICIPATE ANY SURGE IN ENROLLMENT, THAT IT'LL CERTAINLY ACCELERATE THEIR ENROLLMENT BUT IT WON'T SURGE. I MEAN, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE HIGHEST RATE OF PRIVATE EDUCATION IN CANADA, AND B.C. IS 11 percent. AND YET THEIR FUNDED AT 50 percent AS WELL. AND THEY'RE DIRECTLY FUNDED. THERE ARE PRIVATE SYSTEMS IN THIS COUNTRY THAT ARE FUNDED TO 80 percent.

Annie says THERE'S A VERY IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE THERE.

Greg says THERE'S NO EXODUS FROM THE PUBLIC SYSTEM AT ALL.

Maureen says I WAS GOING TO SAY, IN B.C. THEY HAVE TO FOLLOW THEIR CURRICULUM, THEY HAVE TO...

Annie says BUT IT'S NOT A TAX CREDIT THAT GOES TO PARENTS.

Maureen says RIGHT, IT'S DIRECT FUNDING.

Annie says AND SO THAT IS AN ENORMOUS DIFFERENCE IN TERMS OF THE INCENTIVE TO INDIVIDUALS TO TAKE THEIR CHILDREN OUT OF THE SYSTEM BECAUSE IT GOES DIRECTLY TO THE SCHOOLS AND PROVINCES.

Maureen says LOTS OF ISSUES TO TALK ABOUT THIS AFTERNOON. MY GUESTS ARE GREG REID OF THE ONTARIO PARENT COUNCIL AND ANNIE KIDDER WITH PEOPLE FOR EDUCATION. WHAT ABOUT YOU? HOW LONG WILL YOU LEAVE YOUR KIDS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM? WILL YOU LEAVE THEM THERE? IF YOU COULD AFFORD IT, WOULD YOU TAKE THEM OUT? GIVE US A CALL IN TORONTO says Maureen says DEBBIE IS IN PRICEVILLE, HI DEBBIE.

The Caller says HI.

Maureen says HI. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

The Caller says I HAVE A LITTLE GIRL IN PRIVATE SCHOOL NOW. THE REASON BEING, BECAUSE SHE DIDN'T DO WELL IN PUBLIC SCHOOL AND SHE WASN'T GETTING THE ATTENTION THAT SHE NEEDED THERE. AND IF I COULD AFFORD IT I WOULD SEND MY OTHER TWO KIDS THERE, TOO. BUT I CAN'T. BUT THIS TAX BREAK REALLY WILL HELP. IT'S NOT THAT WE COULD... LIKE WHERE WE SEND HER, IT'S NOT A BIG TUITION, IT'S NOT A BIG SCHOOL. SOZ SO THAT'S THE ONLY REASON WE'RE ABLE TO SEND HER. SHE'D BE LOST WITHOUT IT.

Maureen says WHAT IS IT THAT SHE'S GETTING THERE THAT MAKES YOU BELIEVE SHE'S DOING SO MUCH BETTER.

The Caller says SHE GETS A LOT OF ONE-ON-ONE. THERE'S ONLY 15 KIDS IN THE SCHOOL AND THERE'S TWO TO THREE TEACHERS.

Maureen says ONLY 15 KIDS IN THE WHOLE SCHOOL.

The Caller says IN THE WHOLE SCHOOL. WE'RE A VERY TINY SCHOOL.

Maureen says WHAT KIND OF SCHOOL IS IT?

The Caller says IT'S A PRIVATE SCHOOL.

Maureen says BUT IT'S NOT, IT'S NOT...

The Caller says IT'S NOT A PUBLIC SCHOOL.

Maureen says IT'S NOT A SCHOOL FOR KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS OR SOMETHING.

The Caller says NO, NO, NO AND THERE'S MORE... AND SHE'S FULL EVERY YEAR, PEOPLE WANTING TO COME IN. WE'RE UP NEAR THE ORANGEVILLE PRIVATE SCHOOL, SO THAT'S WHERE SHE'D GO NEXT KIND OF THING, BUT THEY'RE A LITTLE BIT MORE MONEY. BUT SHE WAS TOTALLY NEGLECTED IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL, BECAUSE IT'S, THERE'S SUCH AN OVERCROWDING THERE.

Maureen says AND SOMETIMES IT TAKES A LONG TIME TO... WELL WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THIS ON THE SHOW... GET YOUR KID IDENTIFIED SO THEY CAN GET THE SPECIAL HELP.

The Caller says YEAH, SHE WAS IDENTIFIED LONG BEFORE SHE NEEDED TO GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOL AND WE JUST WEREN'T GETTING THE SUPPORT.

Maureen says LET ME ASK YOU, YOU SAY YOU'D PUT YOUR OTHER TWO KIDS IN IT. DO YOU WORRY THOUGH THAT YOUR KIDS WOULDN'T GET TO MEET KIDS OF OTHER BACKGROUNDS? KIDS OF OTHER CULTURES?

The Caller says NOT AT ALL, NO.

Maureen says WHY?

The Caller says BECAUSE THEY DO THE SAME, EXACTLY THE SAME THINGS AS THE PUBLIC SCHOOL, JUST ON A SMALLER SCALE. AND YOU KNOW, I THINK THEY PROBABLY GET MORE THAN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL. AROUND HERE, WHERE WE LIVE. WE'RE IN A RURAL COMMUNITY, THERE ISN'T THAT MUCH OF IT ANYWAY.

Maureen says THAT'S RIGHT. I WAS GOING TO SAY I GREW UP IN A TOWN WHERE WE WERE ALL HOMOGENOUS ANYWAY, EXCEPT FOR THE INCOME DISPARITY.

Greg says SURE AND YOU'VE STILL GOT AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES DEBBIE, I'M SURE THINGS SUCH AS SPORTS AND CLUBS AND BROWNIES AND THAT TYPE OF THING FOR KIDS THAT THEY'RE STILL GOING TO BE INTEGRATING WITH MANY DIFFERENT KIDS.

Maureen says OKAY, WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THIS, THIS PARENT OVER HER INABILITY TO FIND SAX IN THE PUBLIC system?

Annie says WELL I THINK... I MEAN THAT IS THE... TO ME IT'S NEVER THE ISSUE OF PEOPLE SHOULDN'T PUT THEIR CHILDREN IN PRIVATE SCHOOL. ULTIMATELY EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US IS GOING TO MAKE THE CHOICE IF WE CAN FOR OUR CHILD. THERE'S NO, "AND IF I HAD A CHILD WHO I KNEW NEEDED SOME OTHER KIND OF HELP" AND THERE WASN'T SOME OPPORTUNITY OPEN TO ME AND I COULD AFFORD IT, THEN I CAN SEE DOING THAT. I GUESS... I THINK IT'S AWFUL THAT YOUR KID WASN'T GETTING THE HELP THAT THEY NEEDED IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM. IT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE'VE BEEN TRACKING, IS HOW MANY CHILDREN ARE ON WAITING LISTS FOR INSTANCE FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION AND THERE ARE OVER 35... SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 30 AND 35,000 ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN ON SPECIAL ED WAITING LISTS NOW AND THESE ARE THE KIND OF THINGS THAT FROM MY POINT OF VIEW I WOULD LIKE TO SEE FIXED IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM SO THAT PEOPLE LIKE DEBBIE DON'T HAVE TO TAKE THEIR KIDS OUT AND PUT THEM IN SMALLER PRIVATE SCHOOLS. IT SHOULD BE SOMETHING WE'RE PROVIDING TO EVERYBODY.

Maureen says WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT?

Greg says ABSOLUTELY. THERE'S A FIRST, ANNIE! WE AGREE ON SOMETHING!

Maureen says WELL OKAY, WHAT'S STOPPING US FROM FIXING THOSE PROBLEMS IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM?

Greg says I THINK A LOT OF THE REFORMS ARE UNDERWAY RIGHT NOW. AND REFORMS SUCH AS STANDARDIZED TESTING, REFORMS SUCH AS TEACHER TESTING TO ENSURE THAT WE'VE GOT TEACHERS WHO ARE UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST STANDARDS...

Maureen says I HAVEN'T SEEN A TEACHER TEST THOUGH, HAVE YOU?

Greg says NOT YET, NO, THAT'S IN DEVELOPMENT RIGHT NOW. AND THINGS SUCH AS THE EFFECT OF SCHOOL'S TASK FORCES THAT ARE GOING TO COME OUT WITH RECOMMENDATIONS ON HOW TO MAKE OUR SCHOOLS MORE EFFECTIVE. WHAT I'D LIKE TO SEE COME OUT FOR DEBBIE AND THE OTHERS OUT THERE, OUT THEREOF WHOLE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT, OF THIS TAX CREDIT FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLING AND FOR RELIGIOUS SCHOOLING, IS AN OPPORTUNITY AGAIN FOR PUBLICLY FUNDED SCHOOLBOARDS TO BE ABLE TO SAY HEY, WE'VE GOT FIVE YEARS UNTIL THIS THING KICKS IN COMPLETELY. WHY DO 72 percent OF ONTARIANS BELIEVE THAT THEY CAN GET A BETTER EDUCATION ON THE OTHER SIDE? LET'S IDENTIFY THE EXACT REASONS AND LET'S ADDRESS THEM.

Annie says BUT I DON'T THINK THAT THAT ANSWERS THE QUESTION ABOUT THE 30,000 KIDS ON WAITING LISTS FOR SPECIAL ED. I MEAN IN ALL OF OUR TRACKING WE'VE SEEN IN LOTS OF THOSE THINGS THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY COUNT LIBRARIANS AND PHYS. EDERS AND MUSICIANS AND PSYCHOLOGISTS FOR KIDS IN SPECIAL ED THAT THAT'S BEEN GETTING WORSE ON ALL BOARDS IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS AND THAT HAS TO DO WITH FUNDING AS MUCH AS ANYTHING. NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU TEST THE TEACHERS, IT'S NOT GOING TO GET THE 30,000 KIDS OFF THE WAITING LISTS.

Greg says WE KEEP COMING BACK TO FUNDING FUNDING FUNDING. UNDER PREVIOUS GOVERNMENTS FUNDING LEVELS WERE NO GREATER THAN WHAT THEY ARE NOW. AND IN FACT, THERE WERE DOUBLE DIGIT INCREASES IN YOURS AND MY TAXES ON A MUNICIPAL BASIS...

Annie says AS THE PROVINCIAL FUNDING WENT DOWN.

Greg says AS THE PROVINCIAL FUNDING WENT DOWN BUT THERE WERE DOUBLE DIGIT TAX INCREASES ON OCCASIONS WHEN THEY WEREN'T NECESSARYWE HAD A FOCUS OF MONEY GOING INTO THE WRONG PLACES. INTO BEAUTIFUL BOARD BUILDINGS AND INTO...

Maureen says OKAY, BUT THE THINGS YOU MENTIONED, STANDARDIZED TESTING AND TEACHER TESTING WILL NOT ADDRESS DEBBIE'S CONCERN, WHICH WAS THAT HER DAUGHTER NEEDED A ONE-ON-ONE RATIO WITH THE TEACHER. WHAT OTHER THAN MORE FUNDING WILL GIVE HER THAT IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM?

Greg says THE OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE HER CHILD OUT OF THAT SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS FOR 23 TO 24 ON AVERAGE IN A CLASS, AND TAKE THEM INTO A SITUATION WHERE SHE'S GOT A LOT MORE...

Maureen says I DON'T GET THAT. IF SHE DIDN'T TO WANT SPEND THAT MONEY, SHE'D RATHER NOT SPEND THIS MONEY ON A PRIVATE SYSTEM.

Greg says OH, ABSOLUTELY. NOBODY WANTS TO HAVE TO SPEND THEIR OWN MONEY OVER AND ABOVE THEIR TAX MONEY. I DON'T THINK SOMEONE IN UPPER CANADA COLLEGE, WHO FUNDS THEIR CHILD TO GO TO UPPER CANADA COLLEGE WANTS TO SPEND THAT MONEY IF THEY DON'T HAVE TO.

Annie says OH, YES THEY DO.

Maureen says I THINK THEY DO...

Greg says OH, NO, IF YOU TOLD ME I COULD SEND MY SON TO UPPER CANADA COLLEGE AT NO EXTRA COST THAT WOULD BE A GREAT ADVANTAGE.

Maureen says BUT DON'T YOU THINK IT'S A STATUS SYMBOL FOR SOME PEOPLE? NOT THE HAJ JORT...

Greg says YEAH, FOR SOME PEOPLE IT WOULD BE, SURE.

Maureen says BERNADETTE IS IN STOUFVILLE, HI BERNADETTE.

The Caller says YES. I HAVE SEVERAL COMMENTS BUT I'LL JUST KEEP IT DOWN TO ONE. AND IT'S CERTAINLY NOT UPPER CANADA COLLEGE. GIVE ME A BREAK ABOUT THAT ATTITUDE THAT PEOPLE JUST SEND THEM THERE, THEY DON'T REALLY WANT TO SEND THEM THERE IF THERE WAS ANOTHER OPTION. NO WAY! I KNOW TOO MUCH ABOUT THAT. ALSO, I WAS WONDERING IN THIS FUNDING, THE SUDDENNESS OF IT ALL, HOW MUCH DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH THE BI-ELECTION COMING UP IN AL PALLADINI'S RIDING? BECAUSE THAT'S... THERE ARE SEVERAL PRIVATE SCHOOLS, THERE ARE SEVERAL GROUPS THERE, AND IT SEEMS TO BE REACHING RIGHT OUT TO OUR COMMUNITY AND NOW THE MORE I HEAR IT, THE WAY DALTON McGUINTY STARTED OUT HAMMERING, AND HE WAS REALLY UPSET ABOUT IT AND THE NEXT THING TURNS IT AROUND AND HE'S KIND OF TAKING A NICE SOFT TURN THE OTHER WAY SINCE HE'S BEEN TOLD BY SOME PEOPLE THAT THAT'S NOT A GOOD IDEA, I WONDER HOW MUCH POLITICS IS INVOLVED OTHER THAN CHOICE FOR CHILDREN OR CHOICE FOR ANYBODY. AND THE LITTLE TAX BREAK THAT THEY'RE GIVING IS NOT GOING TO GIVE VERY MANY PEOPLE A CHOICE AT ALL. THEY KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT AS IF YOU WERE GOING TO HAVE ALL THIS MONEY. IT'S GOING TO BE PEOPLE WHO ALREADY HAVE CHOICE GET GETTING MORE CHOICE. AND THOSE WHO ARE LEFT IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM, LEFT WITH THE ENTRAILS WITH WHAT'S LEFT OVER.

Maureen says THAT'S CERTAINLY THE WORST CASE SCENARIO THAT PEOPLE TALK ABOUT GREG IS THAT THE ONLY PEOPLE LEFT IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM... WE'RE NOT TALKING NEXT YEAR, BUT TWO DECADES DOWN THE LINE, WILL BE THE PEOPLE WHO CANNOT ADVOCATE FOR THE CHILDREN, CANNOT AFFORD THE TIME TO ADVOCATE FOR THEIR CHILDREN, CAN'T AFFORD TO GET THEM OUT.

Greg says I REALLY TAKE ISSUE WITH THAT AND I SAY THAT FROM A SINCERE STANDPOINT OF SOMEONE WHO'S BEEN INVOLVED A LONG TIME IN HOME AND SCHOOL AND SCHOOL COUNCIL WORK, IN VOLUNTEERING IN THE SCHOOLS. I THINK THE PEOPLE WHO ARE LEAVING ARE JUST SO FRUSTRATED WITH THE ENTIRE SYSTEM AND WITH THEIR EXPERIENCE WITH THE SYSTEM, THEY SEE NO OTHER WAY. AND INDIVIDUALS LIKE YOUR FIRST CALLER WHO REALLY AREN'T UPPERCRUST AND HAVE THE DISPOSABLE KNOCK JUST ARBITRARILY MAKE A DECISION, THEY HAVE TO MAKE SPLIF STYLE DECISIONS, TOO, IN ORDER TO FUND THEIR KIDS TO GO TO THESE SCHOOLS. THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT ARE FRUSTRATED WITH THE SYSTEM, THEY'RE NOT GET BEING THE ANSWERS FROM THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM THAT THEY WANT TO GET AND AT SOME POINT THEY MAKE THE DECISION, THEY MAKE A VERY DIFFICULT DECISION, I'M SORRY, I HAVE TO TAKE MY SON OR DAUGHTER OUT.

Annie says I THINK ONLY IF THEY CAN'T... THE CHOICE IS ONLY AVAILABLE TO THOSE WHO CAN CHOOSE FOR ONE THING. AND I THINK THAT IT'S NOT... THERE IS A DANGER OF ENDING UP WITH A TWO-TIER SYSTEM AND IT HAS HAPPENED EXACTLY THIS WAY IN OTHER COUNTRY, WHERE YOU END UP WITH A PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM THAT HAS IN IT THE PEOPLE THAT PRIVATE SCHOOLS WON'T TAKE, THE CHILDREN OF PARENTS WHO CAN'T MAKE THE CHOICES EITHER BECAUSE THEY DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH OR BECAUSE THEY BOTH PARENTS WORK OR FOR WHATEVER REASON THE CHOICES AREN'T AVAILABLE TO THEM. BECAUSE STILL A TAX CREDIT AUGMENTS THE MONEY YOU ARE ABLE TO SPEND ON A PRIVATE SCHOOL. SO IT'S STILL A LIMITATION IN A WAY. AND I THINK THAT WE REALLY HAVE TO SORT OF TAKE A STEP BACK AND REMEMBER WHAT PUBLIC EDUCATION'S FOR AND ARE GO "THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO OUR WHOLE SOCIETY THAT WE HAVE A VIABLE, STRONG PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM."

Greg says GOOD POINT.

Maureen says BUT LET'S TALK ABOUT THE RELIGIOUS ASPECT OF THIS ANNOUNCEMENT. AND BERNADETTE ALLUDED TO IT ABOUT THE BI-ELECTION. WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT WE DO FULLY FUND ONE RELIGIOUS SCHOOL SYSTEM IN THIS PROVINCE AND UP UNTIL NOW NOT THE OTHER ONES? WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN MORE COMFORTABLE, ANNIE IF THIS ANNOUNCEMENT HAD BEEN GEARED ONLY TO RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS?

Annie says NO, BECAUSE IT'S NOT THE SAME THING. THE CATHOLIC SYSTEM IS A FULLY INTEGRATED PART OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM. THEY HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME CURRICULUM, THEY HAVE TO HAVE THE TESTS, THEY ARE A PART OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM. THEY ARE THERE BECAUSE THEY HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BE THERE. FUNDING RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS WHO ARE NOT PART OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM IS NOT THE SAME THING. I DON'T THINK YOU CAN COMPARE... IT MAKES IT VERY COMPLEX, BUT IT IS NOT THE SAME THING AS THE CATHOLIC SYSTEM AS IT IS NOW, AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ADVOCATING FOR THE FUNDING FOR RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS SAY THEY DO NOT WANT TO HAVE THE SAME CURRICULUM, THEY DO NOT WANT TO BE ACCOUNTABLE IN THE SAME WAY. THEY HAVE NO REGULATIONS AT ALL ROOT NOW IN THE PRIVATE SYSTEM UP TO GRADE EIGHT. THEY DON'T HAVE TO... THERE IS NOTHING THEY ESPECIALLY HAVE TO DO. I MEAN, I THINK THE THING THAT WAS INTERESTING ABOUT WHAT THE CALLER SAID WAS HOW MUCH POLITICS HAVE TO DO WITH THIS. AND POLITICS I KNOW HAVE TO DO WITH EVERYTHING. ONE OF THE REAL CONCERNS ABOUT THIS IS WHY ON EARTH THIS HAS TO BE DONE SUDDENLY AND SO FAST AND IN THE MIDDLE OF A BUDGET BILL AND WHY WON'T THEY PULL THIS PART OUT OF THE BUDGET BILL SO THAT WE CAN HAVE PUBLIC HEARINGS ON IT.

Maureen says YOU'RE ON THE ONTARIO PARENT COUNCIL AND THE MINISTER COMES TO YOUR GROUP A LOT FOR ADVICE. IS THIS SOMETHING YOU GUYS ARE ADVOCATING FOR?

Greg says NO, THIS WASN'T SOMETHING WE WERE ADVOCATING FOR. WE WERE ADVOCATING FOR MORE CHOICE AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT I BELIEVE EVERY PARENT WOULD ULTIMATELY LIKE TO HAVE, IS MORE CHOICE OVER WHAT HAPPENS WITH THEIR CHILD'S EDUCATION. BERNADETTE TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION ABOUT IF THIS IS A POLITICAL MOVE BECAUSE OF A BI-ELECTION, IF THE GOVERNMENT HAD A ONE-SEAT MAJORITY, HE MIGHT BE ABLE TO LOOK AT IT THAT WAY. COME ON...

Maureen says THEY DON'T NEED THIS ONE SEAT.

Greg says THEY DON'T NEED THIS ONE SEAT THAT BADLY THEY WOULD MAKE AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF 360 MILLION dollars TO ADDRESS ONE SEAT.

Annie says TRY AND FIGURE OUT WHY THEY WOULD WANT TO DO THIS SO FAST IN A FEW WEEKS, IN THE MIDDLE OF A BUDGET RUN?

Greg says WELL LET'S LOOK AT THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION WHO CAME OUT AND SAID THAT THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT WAS WRONG IN FUNDING ONE FORM OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION BUT NO OTHERS. I MEAN, HERE'S A VERY WELL-RESPECTED INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTION THAT SAID YOU'RE WRONG IN THE WAY YOU'RE FUNDING THINGS AND NOW THE GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN A STEP TO ADDRESS THAT ON THIS SIDE AND...

Maureen says SHOULD THESE PRIVATE SCHOOLS, WHETHER RELIGIOUS OR NOT, HAVE TO FOLLOW THE SAME SORT OF CURRICULUM, HAVE CERTIFIED TEACHERS, WRITE THE STANDARDIZED TESTS AS THE CATHOLIC SYSTEM DISMUZ.

Greg says I REALLY THINK... AND THIS IS PERSONAL. I REALLY THINK THAT THAT MAY BE SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE REQUIRED OF THIS AS A PREREQUISITE. BUT THAT BEING SAID, I DON'T THINK I'M REALLY WELL-ENOUGH QUALIFIED IN TERMS OF ALL THE INFORMATION OUT THERE ON THESE PRIVATE SCHOOLS. I HAVEN'T READ ENOUGH ABOUT THEM TO REALLY UNDERSTAND.

Maureen says LET ME READ AN E-MAIL.

Maureen reads from a laptop and says ONCE AGAIN THIS IS A PROGRAMME, PUBLICLY FUNDED WHICH DOES NOT BENEFIT THE PEOPLE WHO NEED GOOD EDUCATION THE MOST. I TOO WOULD LOVE TO HAVE MY CHILDREN RECEIVE A PRIVATE SCHOOL EDUCATION THAT'S PUBLICLY FUNDED. UNFORTUNATELY WE'RE ONE THE FAMILIES THAT OUR SOCIETY WANTS TO PRETEND DOESN'T EXIST. WE HAVE A CHILD WITH HIGH SPECIAL EDUCATION NEEDS. THIS DOES NOT PROVIDE AN OPTION TO ME, AND YET NO ONE SUFFERS MORE IN THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM THAN SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS. I'D LOVE TO BE ABLE TO TELL MY SCHOOL, MY BOARD TO TAKE THEIR EDUCATION AND STUFF IT BUT PRIVATE SCHOOLS WON'T TAKE SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS. THERE ARE NO OPTIONS FOR ME, SO I CONTINUE TO SEE MY DAUGHTER NEGLECTED, BUMPED FROM RESENTFUL TEACHER TO RESENTFUL TEACHER WITH OUR SERVICES DECLINING MORE AND MORE EVERY YEAR AND NO ONE CARES. WHAT A COLD, CRUEL SOCIETY WE HAVE BECOME TO PROVIDE SO LITTLE FOR OUR MEMBERS WHO NEED IT THE MOST. THAT'S FROM KATHY. SO...

Annie says I AGREE WITH THAT. I MEAN, I ALSO... MY DAUGHTER IN GRADE THREE IS ALSO, ALSO HAS NEEDED SPECIAL EDUCATION. IT'S SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR REALLY, REALLY HARD, IN WHICH CASE YOU THEN HAVE TO BE... YOU ALREADY... YOU'RE ALREADY... THERE'S ALREADY TWO TIERS IN THERE. WE PAID PRIVATELY TO HAVE HER ASSESSED SO THAT WE COULD JUMP THE VERY LONG WAITING LIST FOR ASSESSMENTS IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM. AND THAT IS A PROBLEM THAT HAS MUCH, MUCH WORSE NOW THAN IT WAS FIVE YEARS AGO. AND I THINK THAT THIS IS THE WORRY IS THAT THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM THEN BECOMES A KIND OF DUMPING GROUND WHERE KIDS LIKE THIS AREN'T SERVED WELL, THEY'RE NOT TAKEN CARE OF, THEY'RE NOT GIVEN THE HELP THAT THEY NEED, AND SPECIAL EDUCATION HAS BEEN SOMETHING... I MEAN THE BOARD'S JUST GOT THEIR GRANTS. THERE'S BEEN NOTHING DONE TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF SPECIAL EDUCATION THAT EVEN THE GOVERNMENT ACKNOWLEDGES ARE THERE. AND THAT'S WHAT NEEDS TO BE BEING WORKED ON RIGHT NOW INSTEAD OF THROWING MONEY AT THE PRIVATE SYSTEM.

Maureen says WHAT ABOUT PRIORITIES, GREG? WITH THE 350 MILLION dollars IT'S GOING TO COST FOR THIS TAX CREDIT HAVE BEEN BETTER SPENT ON SPECIAL ED IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS?

Greg says THERE HAVE BEEN SIGNIFICANT INCREASES IN SPECIAL ED FUNDING OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS. AND AGAIN, I DON'T THINK MONEY IS THE PANACEA HERE.

Maureen says WHAT DOES THIS MOTHER NEED THEN? BHZ NZ WHAT SHE NEEDS IS A SYSTEM THAT'S MORE RESPONSIVE AND IDENTIFIES WHAT'S WRONG WITH ITSELF. IF WE HAVE A PUBLICLY FUNDED EDUCATION SYSTEM THAT'S NOT SERVING THE NEEDS OF CONSTITUENTS, WE NEED IT TO DO THE SELF ANALYSIS TO FIND OUT WHAT IT NEEDS TO DO IT. IF IT IS INDEED MONEY, AND IF THEY CAN IDENTIFY WHAT QUANTIFYING... WHAT TYPE OF MONEY THEY NEED IN ORDER TO ADDRESS IT, AND GEMPB THERE IS... I BELIEVE THERE'S A SPECIAL ED REFORM GROUP...

Annie says THAT WASN'T LISTENED TO THE SPECIAL ED REFORM GROUP DID GIVE IN ALL OF THEIR INFORMATION, THEY MET, THEY ARE VERY, VERY DISAPPOINTED THAT NOTHING WAS DONE.

Maureen says NOTHING'S BEEN CHANGED.

Annie says NOTHING WAS CHANGED.

Maureen says THEY WERE ASKED FOR THEIR OPINION AND SOME...

Annie says WELL THEY WERE ASKED FOR THEIR OPINION BUT THEN NOTHING HAPPENED.

Maureen says LET'S GO TO JAKE IN LINS SEE. HI JAKE.

The Caller says HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?

Maureen says GOOD, THANKS. DO YOU HAVE KIDS IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM?

The Caller says NO, WE DON'T. WE HAVE TWO DAUGHTERS IN THE PRIVATE SCHOOL SYSTEM.

Maureen says OKAY, WHAT KIND OF SCHOOL IS IT?

The Caller says IT'S A, I GUESS IT'S A RELIGIOUSLY-BASED SCHOOL. THERE'S MULTI-DENOMINATIONAL KIDS GOING TO THIS SCHOOL, AND WE REALLY ENJOY THE CONTROL THAT WE HAVE IN HIRING OUR TEACHERS AND OUR ADMINISTRATION PEOPLE. WE'RE ABLE TO OVERSEE EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN THE SCHOOL AS PARENTS, AND TO ME THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO HAVE THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN PLACE TO EDUCATE YOUR CHILDREN.

Maureen says AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TAX BREAK?

The Caller says WELL REALLY, IF YOU SIT DOWN AND THINK ABOUT IT, WE ACTUALLY END UP PAYING TAXES TWICE, BECAUSE WE PAY FOR THE PUBLIC SYSTEM AND THEN WE ALSO PAY FOR THE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL OF OUR CHOICE. AND IF YOU WERE TO LOOK AT IT, THERE'S ABOUT 740 dollars... THERE'S ABOUT 740 INDEPENDENT ONTARIO SCHOOLS AND IF THEY WERE TO HAVE AN ENROLLMENT OF 100 CHILDREN EACH THAT WOULD SAVE THE GOVERNMENT 518 MILLION dollars A YEAR AND THAT MONEY COULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC SYSTEM IF THE GOVERNMENT REALLY WANTED TO IMPROVE THEIR PUBLIC EDUCATION LIKE IN AREAS OF SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN.

Maureen says DO YOU THINK THEY'LL DO THAT?

The Caller says THEY'LL TALK TO THE GOVERNMENT. THEY'VE MADE INITIATIVES NOW TO IMPROVE THE WAY CHILDREN ARE EDUCATED IN ONTARIO, AND MAYBE IT'S A TWO PROCESS THING THEY'RE LOOKING AT DOWN THE ROAD.

Maureen says BUT YOU'RE, YOU'RE BASICALLY SENDING YOUR KIDS TO THIS SCHOOL FOR THE RELIGIOUS ASPECT OF IT. YOU DON'T HAVE A COMPLAINT WITH THE ACADEMICS IN THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM?

The Caller says WELL, I MYSELF WENT TO A PRIVATE SCHOOL, AND WE RECEIVED A VERY ADEQUATE EDUCATION. THE TEACHERS THAT WE HAD WERE EDUCATED IN THE ONTARIO PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM AND A LOT OF THEM ALSO WENT TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS TO GET THEIR TEACHING DEGREES, AND AS FOR THE LEVEL OF EDUCATION, I DON'T THINK... I THINK IT'S AT PAR OR EVEN SUPERIOR TO WHAT THEY HAVE IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM.

Maureen says WHAT PRIVATE SCHOOL HANDS OUT TEACHING DEGREES IN ONTARIO?

2 says YOU CAN GO TO UPPER NEW YORK STATE OR GO ANYWHERE AND GET A TEACHING DEGREE.

The Caller says THERE'S ONE IN HAMILTON, REDEEMER COLLEGE, AND YOU... YOU HAVE A PROGRAMME THERE AND WOULD GET YOUR TEACHERS DEGREE IF YOU GO TO OTTAWA, CARLETON UNIVERSITY.

Maureen says RIGHT, SO EVENTUALLY YOU HAVE TO GET IT FROM A BONA FIDE UNIVERSITY. SO HERE'S SOMEBODY WHO SAYS I'M PAYING TAXES TWICE ALREADY, SO DON'T TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS TAX BREAK BEING UNFAIR. I'M STILL PAYING FOR THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM AND I'M NOT USING IT. ANNIE?

Annie says WELL I MEAN I THINK THAT WE PAY MANY MANY TAXES FOR MANY THINGS. I PAY TAXES FOR HOSPITALS THAT I DON'T ALWAYS USE OR ROADS I DON'T DRIVE ON. YOU KNOW, CLEAN AIR OR MANY SERVICES AND IT'S PART OF LIVING IN A SOCIETY. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE PAY OUR TAXES SO THAT WE CAN ALL BENEFIT FROM THEM. AND WE DO PAY LOTS OF TAXES FOR THINGS THAT WE DON'T USE FOR THE BENEFIT OF EVERYBODY.

Greg says WELL A LITTLE BIT OF DIFFERENCE FROM THE HOSPITAL ANALOGY ANNIE IS THAT MAYBE YOU DON'T NEED THOSE SERVICES. ALL THESE KIDS NEED EDUCATION AND IF THEY CAN'T GET WHAT THEY NEED OUT OF THE PUBLIC SYSTEM THEY NEED TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE TO GET IT.

Annie says YEAH, BUT LOTS OF CHILDLESS PEOPLE PAY TACKS.

Greg says ABSOLUTELY. I'M TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE WITH CHILDREN.

Annie says BUT I MEAN EVERYBODY PAYS TAXES FOR THE EDUCATION SYSTEM AS A PART OF OUR SOCIETAL KIND OF OBLIGATION.

Greg says SURE, SURE.

Annie says YOU KNOW, THAT'S WHAT WE'VE DECIDED TO DO. AND I THINK THAT... I MEAN, I CAN UNDERSTAND... I THINK THAT, AND I THINK ESPECIALLY FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BE ABLE TO SEND THEIR CHILD FOLLOW A DIFFERENT KIND OF SCHOOL, IT'S HARD. IT DOES MEAN MAKE SACRIFICES. IT IS... YOU KNOW, I'M NOT AT ALL BERATING ANYBODY FOR DOING THAT BECAUSE I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND THE DESIRE TO DO THAT. THE PROBLEM FOR ME IS WHAT IT DOES TO THE PUBLIC SYSTEM AND THE CALLER EVEN SAID IT COULD SAVE THEM 500 MILLION dollars A YEAR, WELL THAT'S 500 MILLION dollars THAT I HAVE NOT HEARD A WORD ABOUT STAYING IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM AND MY WORRY IS THAT WE FIND WAYS OF DOING IT MORE AND MORE AND MORE SORT OF ON THE CHEAP OR LOOKING AT THE BOTTOM LINE.

Greg says SEE THERE'S THE FUNDAMENTAL AREA WHERE ANNIE AND I DIFFER. SHE WORRIES ABOUT WHAT IT DOES TO THE PUBLIC SYSTEM. I LOOK AT THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE PUBLIC SYSTEM TO IDENTIFY WHERE THEY CAN IMPROVE.

Maureen says DOES THE PUBLIC SYSTEM HAVE, AND I GUESS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL BOARDS, DO THEY REALLY HAVE THAT POWER ANYMORE, GREG? BECAUSE I HEAR YOU SAYING SCHOOLS GOT TO CHANGE, AND I THINK YOU'RE CRITICAL OF THE BOARD FOR NOT CHANGING. A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE CRITICAL OF THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT BECAUSE THEY THINK THAT'S WHERE ALL THE CHANGE HAS BEEN INITIATED SO IF WE'RE NOT HAPPY WITH IT THEY LOOK THERE.

Greg says WELL LET'S BE CLEAR. THERE ARE SCHOOLS, THERE ARE BOARDS. THERE ARE PRINCIPAL, TEACHERS OUT THERE WHO ARE DOING A FANTASTIC JOB, AND PARENTS WHO ARE EXTREMELY HAPPY WITH THE PUBLICLY-FUNDED SCHOOLS THEIR KIDS ARE GOING TO. HOWEVER, THERE ARE OTHER SCHOOLS OUT THERE THAT THERE JUST DOESN'T EXIST ANY FACTOR OF ACCOUNTABILITY THAT LENDS ITSELF TO IMPROVING THEMSELVES TO THE HIGHER STANDARDS OF SOME OF THE ONES THAT DO MAKE THEIR CONSTITUENTS HAPPY.

Maureen says GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE. HOW IS THEIR ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE SCHOOLS YOUR KIDS GO TO BUT NOT MAYBE THE ONE...

Greg says I'LL GIVE YOU FOR INSTANCE, IT'S A PERSONAL FOR INSTANCE, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL MY SON GOES TO, SCHOOL COUNCIL MEETS ON A REGULAR BASIS, HAS A VERY WELL, VERY OPERATIVE AND VERY INVOLVED SCHOOL COUNCIL. THROUGH A CHOICE OF THE PRINCIPAL, THEY WEREN'T GIVEN SOME INFORMATION THAT WAS PASSED DOWN ON THE NEW SCHOOL COUNCIL REGULATIONS THAT PRE EXCLUDED... PRECLUDED ANYBODY FROM THAT SCHOOL FROM PARTICIPATING IN SOME ONTARIO EDUCATIONAL REGIONAL FORUMS AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO APPLY FOR THE O.P.C. THIS WAS A CONSCIOUS DECISION MADE BY AN INDIVIDUAL WHO SAID WELL, YOU KNOW, WE'RE JUST NOT GOING TO PASS THAT INFORMATION ALONG. SO THOSE PARENTS MISSED OUT ON SOMETHING BECAUSE OF THAT. BECAUSE THERE IS NO ACCOUNTABILITY FACTOR THERE, BECAUSE THERE IS NO PENALTY FOR THAT PRINCIPAL NOT PASSING THIS INFORMATION ALONG, THESE PARENTS MISSED OUT. THAT'S AN EXAMPLE OF WHY PARENTS GET UPSET WITH THE SYSTEM THE WAY IT EXISTS, BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY. BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF THEIR CONTROL. JAKE MENTIONED THAT HIS KIDS...

Maureen says YEAH, PARENTS CONTROL IT, THEY HIRE THE PRINCIPAL.

Greg says AND YOU KNOW, I'M SURE THEY'RE NOT... JAKE, I DON'T WANT TO PUT WORDS IN YOUR MOUTH, BUT YOU'RE PROBABLY NOT DEALING WITH A TEACHERS' FEDERATION THAT HAS THE OPTION OF WITHDRAWING THEIR SERVICES ON A WHIM OR ON A POLITICAL NOTION, AND PREVENTING YOUR KIDS FROM GETTING THEIR EDUCATION.

Maureen says ANNIE? DO THE PARENTS IN YOUR GROUP WANT MORE CONTROL IN THEIR SCHOOLS?

Annie says I THINK THAT WE WOULD LIKE AND SUPPORTED THE REGULATIONS FOR SCHOOL COUNCILS. THEY ARE THERE. THEY'VE BEEN THERE FOR A YEAR. WE'VE HAD SCHOOL COUNCILS FOR FIVE YEARS. AND I THINK THEY'RE A REALLY GOOD IDEA AND THEY'RE WORKING QUITE WELL. THE PROBLEM IS, AS EVERYBODY KNOWS, GETTING PEOPLE TO BE ON THE SCHOOL COUNCIL, HOW MUCH FUNDRAISING YOU HAVE TO DO, WHICH IS GOING UP EVERY YEAR FOR YOUR SCHOOL, FOR ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE MISSING FROM YOUR SCHOOL. AND THAT PARENTS ARE MOST CONCERNED... I MEAN, IF YOU LOOK AT THE RECENT O.I.S.E. POLLS THE THING THEY'RE ACTUALLY MOST CONCERNED ABOUT IS THAT THERE'S NOT ENOUGH MONEY IN THE SYSTEM AND THINGS ARE BEING CUT OUT OF IT. MORE THAN ACCOUNTABILITY, WE'D LIKE THE SERVICES BACK.

Maureen says LET ME JUST RECAP FOR THOSE OF YOU JOINING US, YOU'RE WATCHING "MORE TO LIFE" AND WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PUBLIC AND PRIVATE EDUCATION THIS AFTERNOON AND ASKING HOW LONG YOU'LL STICK WITH THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM. IF YOU COULD AFFORD IT WITH THIS NEW TAX BREAK, WOULD YOU PULL YOUR KIDS OUT AND PUT THEM IN A PRIVATE SCHOOL OR WILL YOU HANG IN THERE? GIVE US A CALL says EVELYN IS IN SCARBOROUGH. HI EVELYN.

The phone numbers and email reappear briefly.

The Caller says OH, GOOD AFTERNOON. THANK YOU FOR TAKING MY CALL.

Maureen says YOU'RE WELCOME.

The Caller says FIRST OF ALL I REALLY AGREED WITH WHAT BERNADETTE HAD TO SAY IN THE EARLIER IN THE PROGRAMME. GREG, THERE'S A LOT OF... I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO MEET WITH YOU BECAUSE I THINK WE'RE AT OPPOSITE POLES IN WHAT IS BEING DONE, AND I DO AGREE A LOT WITH WHAT Mrs. KIDDER HAD TO SAY. NOW, THE REASON THAT I CALLED IS THAT OUR SON WAS BROUGHT UP IN THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. THE FIRST YEARS, UP UNTIL GRADE EIGHT HE HAD... WE HAD LIVED IN THE UNITED STATES, AND WE LIVED IN MANY STATES. AND IT WAS OUR DECISION THAT WE DID WANT HIM TO GO TO THE CATHOLIC SCHOOLS FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS AND OTHER REASONS, BECAUSE IF YOU COMPARED THE TWO SCHOOLS AT THE TIME, THE TWO SYSTEMS AT THE TIME, THAT WAS LOT THAT WE THOUGHT THAT THE CATHOLIC SYSTEM HAD, BUT AGAIN I SAY THIS IS MANY STATES ACROSS THE NATION. NOW WHEN I CAME BACK TO CANADA, WHEN WE CAME BACK TO CANADA, AND I WAS THE CANADIAN IN THE GROUP, I WAS UNAWARE THAT WE DIDN'T HAVE TO PAY FOR HIM TO GO TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL. NOW I KNOW Mrs. KIDDER HAD SAID EARLIER ON THAT IT'S A CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE. AND I DO THINK THAT SHOULD BE REVISITED, BECAUSE I THINK THAT IS UNFAIR. IF WE WANT TO SEND OUR SON TO BE A RELIGIOUS SCHOOL THAT IS OUR CHOICE. WE TAKE NOTHING OUT OF PUBLIC SYSTEM IN ORDER TO SEND HIM THERE. HOWEVER HE DID CONTINUE ON AND HE FINISHED HIS CATHOLIC EDUCATION, WHICH WAS A GOOD ONE, IN ONTARIO HERE. SO I DO NOT AGREE THAT FUNDS SHOULD BE TAKEN OUT OF PUBLIC SYSTEM IN ORDER FOR YOU TO SEND YOUR CHILD TO A SCHOOL OF CHOICE, WHETHER IT BE RELIGIOUS OR A DIFFERENT TYPE OF SCHOOL THAT YOU WANT THEM TO ATTEND. AND I FEEL VERY STRONGLY ABOUT THIS. I THINK THAT THE MONIES THAT SHOULD GO INTO EDUCATING MOST OF THE CHILDREN IN THE SYSTEM SHOULD BE DUMPED INTO THAT PUBLIC FUNDS. AND THAT THE SUPPORT SHOULD GO THERE.

Maureen says WE DISCUSSED THIS DURING EDUCATION WEEK, MICHAEL VOLPE SAID CATHOLIC PARENTS WHO HAD A CHRISTIAN CONSCIENCE SHOULD PULL THEIR KIDS OUT OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS. YOU KNOW, SO I WONDER WHAT THE FUSS WOULD BE THE GOVERNMENT HAD DONE EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE AND INSTEAD OF EXTENDING THE FUNDING TO OTHER RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS TAKE IT AWAY FROM THE CATHOLIC SCHOOLS.

Annie says THE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS WERE ASKED THAT AND THEY SAID THEY DON'T WANT THAT. IT'S NOT NECESSARILY AN ANN ISSUE OF FAIRNESS, IT'S AN ISSUE OF FUNDING FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS.

Greg says AND EVELYN, IT'S EVELYN, ISN'T IT? EVELYN, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT TAKING MONEY OUT THE SYSTEM AND NO MONEY WAS TAKEN OUT OF THE SYSTEM IN THIS CASE. THE FUNDING THAT'S COMING FORWARD FOR THIS TAX CREDIT IS NEW MONEY THAT'S BEING ANNOUNCED. AT THE SAME MONEY THEY'RE ANNOUNCING THAT THEY ANNOUNCED 368 MILLION dollars OF NEW BUDGET MONEY FOR PUBLICLY FUNDED ELEMENT TREE AND HIGH SCHOOLS.

Annie says WHICH DOESN'T COVER ENROLLMENT INCREASES.

Greg says IT DOES, ANNIE ABOUT THAT'S AN ARGUMENT FOR ANOTHER DAY. THEY ANNOUNCED IN TOTAL 2 BILLION dollars THAT'S BEEN ANNOUNCED FOR POST SECONDARY FUNDING IN TERMS OF SUPER BILL FOLLOW ADDRESS THE DOUBLE COHORT SYSTEM. THEY ANNOUNCED 143 MILLION dollars IN MONEY FOR PRESCHOOL EDUCATION AND PRE SCHOOL CARE. I MEAN...

Maureen says ISN'T IT SEMANTICS GREG, THOUGH? YOU'RE RIGHT, IT WAS NEW MONEY IN A WAY BUT IF IT'S AVAILABLE MONEY, IT WAS JUST AS AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC SYSTEM AS IT WAS TO THE PRIVATE SYSTEM. I MEAN, I GET YOUR POINT, BUT THEY COULD EASILY, IF THIS MONEY IS THERE AND THEY FELT THAT THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM WAS THE PRIORITY, WHICH IS WHAT THE MINISTER SAID RIGHT ON THIS SHOW THAT VERY NIGHT, AND THE RUMOR IS SHE'S NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS, THE MONEY COULD HAVE GONE INTO MAKING THE PEOPLE LIKE THAT MOM BY E-MAIL HAPPIER ABOUT HER SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD.

Greg says WELL AGAIN YES YOU DO GET DOWN TO SEMANTICS AND THE SEMANTICS OF IT IS WE CAN DUMP ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD INTO THE SYSTEM, UNLESS THE ACCOUNTABILITY, UNLESS THE CONTROLS ARE THERE, UNLESS SOMEONE COMES FORWARD AND SAYS DEFINITIVELY, HERE'S WHAT WE NEED TO ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM OF SPECIAL EDUCATION, HERE'S WHAT WE NEED IT ADDRESS THIS OTHER PROBLEM THAT'S OUT THERE. UNLESS SOMEONE CAN PROVIDE THE ACCOUNTABILITY...

Maureen says ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD...

Greg says ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD'S NOT GOING SOLVE PROBLEMS.

Maureen says COULD YOU SEE ANNIE THERE WAS AT ONE TIME WASTEFUL SPENDING IN THE EDUCATION...

Annie says ABSOLUTELY! THERE'S WASTFUL MONEY SPENT NON IBM AND BANKS AND EDUCATION SYSTEMS AND HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS, IN ALL SYSTEMS THERE'S MONEY WASTED THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT. AND THERE'S NO QUESTION THAT THE MONEY NEEDED TO BE CONTROLLED,S NO QUESTION IT WAS UNFAIRLY DISTRIBUTED BEFORE, ALL OF THOSE THINGS WERE VERY VERY GOOD CHANGES MADE. THE PROBLEM IS AT THE SAME TIME AS WE'VE MADE ALL OF THESE CHANGES WE HAVE TAKEN IN THE MATTER... AND IT IS NOT A QUESTION OF SEMANTICS, A LOT OF MONEY OUT OF THE SYSTEM. AND YOU CAN SEE IT. IT'S ONE THING TO SAY YOU CAN ARGUE, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE KEEP SAYING THEY'RE SPENDING MORE THAN EVER, BUT YOU CAN SEE IT IN YOUR SCHOOL. ALL OF THE STAFFING COMMITTEES IN SCHOOLS IN TORONTO ANYWAY THIS YEAR, ALL THE PARENTS WERE ARGUING ABOUT SHOULD WE HAVE A MUSIC TEACHER OR A PHYS.ED TEACHER BECAUSE YOU COULDN'T HAVE BOTH.

Maureen says THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED IN MY SCHOOL. BRIGIT.

The Caller says HELLO, THANK YOU FOR TAKING MY CALLS?

Maureen says YOU'RE WELCOME.

The Caller says I'VE LISTENED TO A LOT OF THIS AND Mr. REID, IT KEEPS ON SAYING "I WOULD HOPE THERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY HERE." WHAT I AM AFRAID OF IS THAT ONE, THEY WON'T TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY, AND I WOULD NOT LIKE TO LEAVE OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM UP TO SOMEBODY'S HOPES. I WOULD ACTUALLY CUT OFF MY RIGHT ARM TO PUT MY CHILDREN IN A PRIVATE SCHOOL. I HAVE A CHILD WHO IS 14, WHO IS IN GRADE EIGHT, WHO HAS THIRTY-ONE CHILDREN IN HER CLASS. I WILL TELL YOU THAT THOSE TEACHERS ARE DOING THEIR VERY, VERY BEST. THEY'RE BREAKING THEIR HEARTS. NOW TAKING WHAT YOU'RE DOING, I BELIEVE, IS MAKING THE RICH RICHER, AND THE POOR POORER. IF I COULD AFFORD IT, I WOULD CUT MY GROCERIES, I WOULD CUT MY LIVING EXPENSES, HOWEVER AS A SINGLE MOTHER I CAN'T CUT A THING. AND I JUST BECAUSE OF A TAX BREAK, DOESN'T MEAN THAT I CAN PUT MY CHILDREN IN PRIVATE EDUCATION. SO WHAT EXACTLY I SEE HERE IS THAT IF IT WAS A PRIVATE INDUSTRY, YES, IT'S AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM TO WORK. BUT THIS IS NOT A BUSINESS UNTIL THEY GET IT TO THAT POINT. IT WON'T IMPROVE. AND IT CAN'T BE A BUSINESS BECAUSE WE DO HAVE SPECIAL EDUCATION CHILDREN.

Maureen says WELL BRIGIT, LET ME ASK YOU, WHICH WOULD YOU RATHER SEE THE GOVERNMENT DO THEN? I GUESS I WANT TO SAY FUNDING, PUT THE FUNDING THAT'S NECESSARY TO IMPROVE THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM SO THAT YOUR DAUGHTER ISN'T IN A CLASS WITH 31 KIDS OR GIVE YOU THE MONEY SAY IN THE FORM OF A VOUCHER, THE 7,000 dollars AND LET YOU TAKE IT WHEREVER YOU WANT SO THAT YOU HAVE CHOICE?

The Caller says I ACTUALLY WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE SYSTEM, THE MONEY PUT INTO THE SYSTEM.

Maureen says OKAY. YOU GO FOR THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM. GREG?

Greg says BRIGIT, IF I CAN MAKE ONE POINT WITH YOU, OVER THE LAST 15 YEARS, THE INCREASE IN PRIVATE... ATTENDANCE AT PRIVATE SCHOOLS HAS INCREASED BY OVER 34 percent. I'VE SEEN BOTH INSTANCES WHERE PEOPLE HAVE LEFT THE PUBLIC SYSTEM TO GO TO PRIVATE, I'VE SEEN PEOPLE WHO HAVE LEFT OF THE PRIVATE SYSTEM TO COME BACK TO THE PUBLIC, NOT FINDING WHAT THEY WANTED THERE. IF EVERY ONE OF THOSE STUDENTS WHO LEFT THE PUBLIC FUNDED SYSTEM WERE BEING ASKED WHY, MAYBE THEY WOULD FIND THE REASONS WHY AND THEY'D BE ABLE TO IDENTIFY IN YOUR CASE SPECIFICALLY THAT THERE WERE TOO MANY KIDS IN THE CLASS ROOM AND YOU WEREN'T HAPPY WITH THAT.

Maureen says WELL WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT THAT?

Greg says THEN THEY CAN DEFINITIVELY SAY HEY, THIS IS A PROBLEM. OUR AVERAGING ISN'T WORKING IN OUR BOARD AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEVOTE MORE OF THE MONEY, MORE...

Maureen says AGAIN IT'S THE BOARD THOUGH. I MEAN, THE PROVINCE COULD HAVE SET A CAP INSTEAD OF AN AVERAGE.

Greg says IF THE PROVINCE SETS A CAP ON CLASSES, YOU'RE GOING TO WIND UP CLOSING MORE RURAL SCHOOLS THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT, BECAUSE IF YOU HAVE ONLY TEN KIDS IN A GRADE EIGHT CLASS IN A RURAL SCHOOL, YOU HAD 14 IN THE GRADE SEVEN CLASS AND 12 IN THE GRADE SIX CLASS...

Maureen says SO YOU'RE SAYING THE BOARDS HAVE THE RESOURCES TO FIX THIS, THEY JUST WON'T.

Greg says I DON'T KNOW IF THEY WON'T OR IF THEY JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE PRIORITY FOR MOST PARENTS, IS HAVING A GOOD RATIO IN THAT CLASSROOM AND TRYING TO LIVE UP TO THOSE PROVINCIAL STANDARDS...

Maureen says WE ELECT THESE PEOPLE, THEN IT'S OUR FAULT.

Greg says EXACTLY.

Maureen says IT'S YOUR FAULT.

Greg says YEAH.

Annie says CLASS SIZES. MY OLDER DAUGHTER HAS ONLY BEEN IN CLASSES OF 30 OR OVER, I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN AND LAST YEAR SHE WAS IN A CLASS OF 34 AND IT IS QUITE SIMPLE. YOU HAVE TO PAY MORE TEACHERS TO LOWER CLASS SIZE. THERE DOES HAVE TO BE A CAP ON CLASS SIZE. IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT SMALL SCHOOLS CLOSE. SMALL SCHOOLS STILL SUFFER FROM THAT IT'S AVERAGED OUT AND THERE ISN'T ENOUGH MONEY IN THE SYSTEM TO PAY THE TEACHERS TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERY CHILD, ESPECIALLY IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IS IN A CLASS OF A REASONABLE SIZE. I MEAN MY CHILD IS IN GRADE THREE, IS IN A 2 thirds SPLIT, THERE ARE 30 KIDS. MINE IS ONE OF FOUR WHO ARE SPECIAL ED IN THAT CLASS. THEIR TEACHER'S A SAINT I THINK. I'D DIE IF I WAS IN THAT CLASS AND THAT NEEDS... I'M SORRY, BUT I CAN'T... AND IT DOESN'T NEED A STUDY OR FOR SOMEBODY TO DEEPLY THINK HOW TO FIGURE THIS OUT. WE KNOW YOU NEED TO HAVE... YOU NEED TO PAY ANOTHER TEACHER, SO THERE AREN'T THAT MANY KIDS IN THE CLASS. AND THAT'S... YOU KNOW, AND IT'S LISTENING TO YOU SAY YOU WOULD CUT OFF YOUR RIGHT ARM, YOU KNOW, IF YOU COULD AFFORD TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS, AND THAT ULTIMATELY... AND I KNOW PEOPLE MAKE HUGE SACRIFICES TO SEND THEIR CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS, BUT ULTIMATELY ONLY PEOPLE WHO CAN AFFORD IT CAN DO THAT. AND IF YOU ARE, IF YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN EATING AND SENDING YOUR CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOL YOU'RE GOING CHOOSE EATING AND A TAX CREDIT ISN'T GOING TO HELP YOU.

Maureen says YOU KNOW WHAT WE HAVEN'T HEARD TODAY THOUGH? WE HAVEN'T HEARD ANYBODY SAY HOW WONDERFUL THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM IS RIGHT NOW. I MEAN, TO ME THERE'S...

Greg says WELL, YEAH.

Annie says THERE ARE ASPECTS OF IT THAT ARE WONDERFUL.

Maureen says BUT THERE ARE TWO PERCEPTIONS RIGHT NOW OF PUBLIC EDUCATION AND YOU KEEP QUALIFYING IT LIKE CERTAIN SCHOOLS ARE WONDERFUL BUT I MEAN AS A SYSTEM. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO THINK IT USED TO BE WONDERFUL BUT HARRIS CAME IN, CUT THE FUNDING AND NOW ONLY BURNT-OUT TEACHERS ARE LEFT WHO NO LONGER HAVE IT IN THEM TO CARE ANYMORE, OR THERE'S THE PERCEPTION THAT DESPITE HIS BEST EFFORTS, HARRIS WASN'T ABLE TO GET PAST THE UNIONS WHO STOPPED HIM EVERY TIME HE TRIED TO MAKE SOMETHING WORK IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM. EITHER WAY, NOBODY IS IN LOVE WITH THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM.

Annie says YOU KNOW WHAT? I THINK IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE I THINK THERE'S... YOU KNOW, THERE'S GREG WHO TALKS ABOUT OTHER SCHOOLS ARE BAD BUT MINE ARE FINE AND I THINK WE ALL HAVE THAT.

Greg says I DIDN'T SAY MINE ARE FINE. THERE ARE IMPROVEMENTS.

Annie says BUT IF WE THINK OF PALMERSTON SCHOOL WHERE MY EIGHT-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER GOES, IT'S HAD WONDERFUL PRINCIPALS, IT HAS WONDERFUL... IT ACTUALLY IS AN INCREDIBLY HIGH-FUNCTIONING, TREMENDOUS SCHOOL, BUT YOU... BUT IT'S THE, IT'S WHAT THEY'RE HAVING TO WORK... THE CONSTANT KIND OF ROBBING PETER TO PAY PAUL THAT'S DIFFICULT. BUT I THINK THAT YOU'RE RIGHT, IT'S VERY HARD RIGHT NOW. THAT'S I DIDN'T KEEP SAYING YOU CAN'T TALK ABOUT THIS AND THIS TAX CREDIT IN A VACUUM. BECAUSE THIS SYSTEM... AND NOW THIS GOVERNMENT CAN'T KEEP BLAMING THIS ON THE NDP OR LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY. THEY'VE HAD IT SIX YEARS.

Maureen says IT'S BEEN SIX YEARS. GREG, THAT'S TRUE. AT WHAT POINT ARE YOU GOING TO SAY THEIR REFORMS SOUNDED GOOD ON PAPER BUT THEY HAVEN'T ACCOMPLISHED THEM?

Greg says WELL SOME OF THE REFORMS THEY HAVE ACCOMPLISHED. THEY'VE INSTITUTED A NEW CURRICULUM THAT'S RECEIVED WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FROM TEACHERS, FROM TEACHERS' FEDERATIONS SAYING YEAH, IT'S ABOUT TIME WE GOT BACK TO THE THREE Rs, BACK TO BASICS. THERE ARE OTHER REFORMS THAT THEY'VE INSTITUTED THAT HAVE SUCCEEDED. THEY'VE BEEN OPPOSED ON VIRTUALLY ALL THEIR REFORMS AT EVERY STEP OF THE WAY AND THEY CONTINUE TO BE OPPOSED TODAY ON ISSUES LIKE THIS. INSTEAD OF... AND AGAIN, IF I'M AN ADMINISTRATOR TODAY, AND I HAD A GOOD FRIEND WHOSE SON LEFT THE PUBLICLY-FUNDED SYSTEM TO GO TO A PRIVATE SCHOOL, WHEN HE LEFT, THERE WAS A VOID. THERE WAS NOTHING. THERE WERE NO QUESTIONS ASKED WHY HE LEFT. THERE WERE NO EXIT POLES OR EXIT STUDIES SAYING GEEZ, WHY DIDN'T YOU FIND OUR SCHOOL TO BE ADEQUATE? SOON AFTER HE LEFT THREE OTHERS FOUND OUT, THREE OTHER KIDS FOUND OUT WHERE HE WAS GOING AND FOUND OUT HOW MUCH MORE HE WAS ENJOYING HIS EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE THERE. TOLD THEIR PARENTS, THREE MORE LEFT. NOW WHY WOULD...

Maureen says DIDN'T YOU SAY ON STUDIO 2 THE KID LEFT BECAUSE HE WAS IN A CLASS OF 40.

Greg says BUT THAT WAS ONE OF THE REASONS.

Maureen says BUT AGAIN IT'S THAT CLASS SIZE THING.

Greg says BUT THAT WAS ONLY ONE OF THE REASONS. THE BIGGEST THING WAS THAT HIS PARENT, WHO WAS ON THE SCHOOL COUNCIL OR WENT TO THE SCHOOL COUNCIL AND SAID GEEZ, WE'VE GOT A PROBLEM HERE. WE'VE GOT A HUGE CLASS AND THERE ARE SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS IN THAT CLASS THAT AREN'T BEING ATTENDED TO PROPERLY AND MY SON ISN'T RECEIVING THE PROPER ATTENTION, DOESN'T HAVE THE TIME TO GET THE REMEDIAL WORK HE WANTED TO GET, ET CETERA, ET CETERA, AND HE HIT A WALL. HE GOT NO RESPONSE WHATSOEVER, AND NOTHING IN TERMS... NOTHING IN TERMS OF ENCOURAGEMENT THAT THIS PROBLEM WAS EVER GOING TO BE SOLVED. SO HE LEFT. WHEN HE LEFT, THERE WAS NO ONE ASKING HIM WHY HE LEFT. THAT'S JUST... TO ME THAT'S JUST... I'M IN BUSINESS, THAT'S CUSTOMER SERVICE. IF I LOSE A CUSTOMER, I'M GOING TO ASK THEM WHY I LOST HIM SO I DON'T LOSE THE NEXT GUY, TOO.

Annie says SO DO YOU THINK IF WE ASKED ALL THE CUSTOMERS THAT ARE LEAVING AND WE FOUND OUT THAT ACTUALLY ALL THE CUSTOMERS ARE LEAVING BECAUSE THEIR CLASSES ARE TOO BIG OR THEY'RE NOT GETTING THE SERVICES THEY NEED, THEN WE WILL UNDERSTAND THAT MORE MONEY NEEDS TO BE PUT IN THE SYSTEM THIS.

Greg says I THINK MAYBE THAT WOULD ADD SOME CREDIBILITY TO IT.

Annie says OKAY.

Maureen says TOM IS IN I THINK STON. HI TOMORROW WHAT DO YOU THINK?

The Caller says WELL ACTUALLY THIS IS JUST TYPICAL MIKE HARRIS DIVIDE AND CONQUER STRATEGY. REALLY THE TAX CREDIT HAS ALMOST NOTHING TO DO WITH SUCH PORTING RELIGIOUS EDUCATION. WHEN YOU THINK OF IT, ONLY 43,000 OF THE 105,000 STUDENTS IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS GO TO RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS. SINCE MOSTLY SCHOOLS ARE COMMUNITY-BASED THEY HAVE MUCH LOWER TUITION FEES THAN THE EXPENSIVE PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND ALSO THEIR SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN'T PAY THE FEES. LESS THAN 1 THIRD OF THAT ONE, 100 MILLION OF THE 300 MILLION dollars IN TAX CREDITS ARE GOING TO GO TO RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS. TO PUT IT ANOTHER WAY THE GOVERNMENT COULD HAVE SAID WE'RE GOING TO ENRICH THE PUBLIC SYSTEM BY EXPANDING IT. CURRENTLY WE HAVE FRENCH SCHOOLS, CATHOLIC SCHOOLS, PUBLIC SCHOOLS. WE ARE GOING TO ALLOW RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS AS PART OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION IN ONTARIO, GIVE THEM THE 6,940 dollars TO STUDENTS IN RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS PROVIDED THEY ACCEPT THE RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM THAT WOULD HAVE COST 300 MILLION dollars. INSTEAD, MIKE HARRIS SAID I WILL GIVE 300 MILLION dollars IN TAX CREDITS. 200 MILLION OF THAT, GO TO MY WEALTHY FRIENDS. HERE'S SOME MORE TAX MONEY OUT OF EDUCATION. 300 MILLION dollars FOR RELIGIOUS EDUCATION? ENRICHING THE PUBLIC SYSTEM? OR 300 MILLION dollars, THE MAJORITY OF IT GOING TO TAX CREDITS. MIKE HARRIS CHOSE TAX CREDITS FOR THE WEALTHY EVERY TIME.

Maureen says YOU REALLY THINK THAT WAS HIS MOTIVE TO REWARD RICH FRIENDS?

The Caller says IF HE REALLY BELIEVED IN FAIRNESS, IF AS MIKE FLAHERTY SAID PARENTS WHOSE CHILDREN WERE JEWISH OR HINDU OR MUSLIM HAVE THE RIGHT... THAT'S WHAT JANET ECKER SAID IN THE LEGISLATES TOUR, 6940 dollars TIMES 43,000 IS 300 MILLION dollars. HE COULD HAVE SAID WE WILL OPEN UP THE PUBLIC SYSTEM AND JUST AS THE CATHOLICS HAVE THE RIGHT TO RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM OTHER RELIGIONS DO AS WELL. COSTS THE SAME DOLLARS. WHY DID HE CHOOSE NOT TO SUPPORT THE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS?

Maureen says I DON'T KNOW. I DON'T KNOW, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Greg says WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO THE CALLER. NUMBER ONE, IFENTED TO REWARD HIS RICH FRIENDS HE WOULD HAVE SET THE CAP AT 50 percent FUNDING OF 15 OR 16,000, WHICH IS THE UPPER CANADA COLLEGES AND THE HAVE GALS AND THAT TYPE OF THING. SO THAT KIND OF NEGATES THAT A LITTLE BIT. I GUESS GETTING BACK TO THE WHOLE ISSUE OF WHAT THE MOTIVATION WAS HERE, YOU KNOW, YOU MENTION IT'S ONLY 43,000 PEOPLE IN THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM RIGHT NOW PRIVATELY. THAT'S 43,000 KIDS! I DON'T WANT TO JUST WRITE OFF 43,000 KIDS.

Maureen says HE'S NOT. ADDRESS HIS POINT. WHY NOT, WHERE NUMBERS WARRANT, ALLOW THESE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS INTO THE PUBLIC FOLD WITH FULL FUNDING?

Greg says WE'VE GOT PUBLIC POLLING THAT SAYS ONLY 25 percent OR LESS THAN 25 percent OF THE PEOPLE OUT THERE BELIEVE THEY'RE GETTING A GOOD EDUCATION IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM NOW. WHY WOULD WE EXTEND THAT TO ANOTHER SYSTEM WHEN WE CAN'T RUN WHAT WE'VE GOT EFFECTIVELY AND TO EVERYBODY'S SATISFACTION NOW, AND YET PEOPLE CONSISTENTLY... I'VE HEARD EVERY CALLER VIRTUALLY WHO'S CALLED IN SAY GEE, I'D GIVE AN ARM AND A LEG TO GET MY KID INTO A PRIVATE SCHOOL. WHY NOT LET THE PRIVATE SCHOOLS WHO DO IT BETTER IN THE CASE OF THESE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS DO IT?!

Annie says WELL I GUESS IT'S A REALLY SCARY ATTITUDE TO ME TO KIND OF GIVE UP ON THE PUBLIC SYSTEM THAT WAY. AND I THINK THAT I DON'T THINK THIS IS ABOUT REWARDING MIKE HARRIS' RICH FRIENDS EITHER BUT I DO THINK IT'S ABOUT A FUNDAMENTAL LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT A PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM IS FOR, HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO WORK, THE IMPORTANCE OF THE INVESTMENT YOU MAKE IN THE NEXT GENERATION OF SOCIETY AND I THINK THAT THIS GOVERNMENT SEES EDUCATION LIKE... THEY SEE IT AS A KIND OF... THERE'S A SORT OF MARKETPLACE MODEL AT WORK HERE, WHICH IS THAT IF YOU HAVE MORE COMPETITION AND MORE CHOICE, THINGS WILL IMPROPER OR THAT THERE'S A KIND OF THAT'S THE WAY THINGS SHOULD WORK AND FOR ME THE PROBLEM IS AS ONE OF THE OTHER CALLERS SAID, THERE ARE CHILDREN INVOLVED HERE, AND TO TAKE MY CHILD AND SAY WELL, IF WE JUST MAKE THE SYSTEM MORE COMPETITIVE AND WE'LL MAKE IT KIND OF LEAN AND MEAN, AND IN THAT WAY THEN DISTURB MY CHILD'S LIFE BY, YOU KNOW, GOING THROUGH THREE STRIKES, BY NOT HAVING NEXT BOOKS, BY NOT HAVING A MUSIC TEACHER, THAT'S THE PART THAT REALLY UPSETS ME ABOUT IT. ANDION I DON'T WANT TO JUST THROW OUT PUBLIC... OR GIVE UNON THE PUBLIC SYSTEM AND SAY IF PRIVATE SCHOOLS CAN DO IT BETTER LET'S GIVE THEM THE CHANCE TO DO IT BECAUSE NOT EVERYBODY CAN GO TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS.

Maureen says SARA'S IN ETOBICOKE. HI SARA.

The Caller says GOOD AFTERNOON.

Maureen says HI.

The Caller says I HAVE TWO MAIN ISSUE. I'M A PARENT OF FIVE CHILDREN. I'M A MINORITY, AND A RELIGIOUS PERSON, AND THE MAIN CONCERNS I HAVE IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM IS NOT REALLY THE FUNDING OR THE MONEY. IT'S MORE OF A COMFORT ABILITY AND OUR KIDS, THEY'RE NOT GETTING THE SERVICES THEY NEED AND THEIR NEEDS ARE NOT MET REGARDING EQUITY, REGARDING ACCOMMODATION IN A PUBLIC SYSTEM WHO STRUGGLE ON AN EVERYDAY BASIS, AND I SEE THE INCREASE OF HOME SCHOOLING BECAUSE PEOPLE CANNOT AFFORD TO SEND THEIR KIDS TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS. I HAVE ONE IN PRIVATE SCHOOL, BUT I HAVE OTHER FOUR IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. AND IF I HAVE THE CHOICE OR SOME BREAKS, I WILL GO FOR IT. AND IF I DON'T, THERE WILL BE A TIME WHEN I CAN NOT TAKE IT ANYMORE IN A PUBLIC SYSTEM AND I WILL DO WHATEVER I CAN TO GIVE MY KIDS THE EDUCATION THEY NEED AND AT LEAST KEEP THEM FOR THEIR CULTURE WITH THEIR RELIGION, WITH THEIR LANGUAGE, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT REALLY HURTS THE MOST IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM FOR PEOPLE LIKE US. AND AS YOU KNOW IN TORONTO, LOTS OF DIFFERENT GROUP, THEY'RE NOT REALLY GETTING THE ACCOMMODATION THEY NEED. MINORITIES OF RELIGIOUS GROUPS.

Maureen says CAN YOU GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE OF THE ACCOMMODATION YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT?

The Caller says LIKE FAITH ACCOMMODATIONS, FOR EXAMPLE. WE DON'T HAVE IT IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM. OUR KIDS ARE LEFT UNSUPERVISED MANY TIMES. WE HAVE TO KEEP OUR KIDS HOME BECAUSE THERE'S NO OTHER PROGRAMME WHERE THEY'RE DOING SOMETHING NONE ACADEMICS OR EXTRA CURRICULAR. IF THE PUBLIC SYSTEM STICKS TO ACADEMICS, I SUPPORT PUBLIC SYSTEM. IF THEY DON'T TEACH THINGS AGAINST OUR BELIEFS, AGAINST OUR VALUES, I WILL GO TO PUBLIC SYSTEM, WHICH IS BEST IDEAL SYSTEM. BUT AS IT IS NOW, IT'S A SECULAR SYSTEM, YET THEY TEACH ALL KINDS OF THINGS AGAINST OUR VALUES, MORALS, AND BELIEFS, THAT'S ONE THING, AND THERE'S LOTS OF POLITICS GOING ON WHETHER THE CHILDREN ARE REALLY LEFT BEHIND, AND IT'S BETWEEN UNION AND MINISTRY UNION AND BOARD, AND BOARD AND ARE MINISTRY, THEN WHEN THE KID STAYS HOME FOR A MONTH, WE...

Maureen says I WANT TO STOP YOU THERE SO WE HAVE TIME FOR OUR GUESTS TO ADDRESS THIS. CAN WE EVER HAVE A PUBLIC SYSTEM THAT CAN ACCOMMODATE THE VAST ARRAY OF cultures... RELIGIONS...

Annie says I THINK WE CAN HAVE ONE THAT TRIES AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S ACTUALLY BEEN LOST OVER THE YEARS HAS BEEN A LOT OF THIS SORT OF MULTICULTURAL ACCOMMODATION, THE INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE PROGRAMMES, THE ANTI RACISM PROGRAMMES WHICH ALL GOT CUT FROM THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION. A LOT OF STUFF THAT USED TO BE IN SCHOOLS TO TRY AND HELP THIS. AND I KNOW, AND I UNDERSTAND THAT IT'S A PROBLEM IF YOU HAVE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND SCHOOLS DO THINGS THAT ARE AGAINST THOSE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND IT'S HARD TO FEEL THAT YOU HAVE TO WITHDRAW YOUR CHILD FROM CERTAIN THINGS, BUT I STILL THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT WE CAN DO AS A SOCIETY IS TO TRY TO MAKE A SYSTEM THAT HAS EVERYBODY IN IT. OTHERWISE WE WILL END UP MORE DIVIDED. WE WILL BE DIVIDED ON ECONOMIC GROUNDS, LANGUAGE GROUNDS, RELIGIOUS GROUNDS, ON ETHNIC ORIGIN, WE'LL HAVE MANY, MANY... A FRAGMENTED SYSTEM AND IT'S A PROBLEM, I THINK.

Maureen says AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT? WE HAVE LESS THAN A MINUTE.

Greg says I THINK THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM NOW DOES A GOOD JOB OF INTEGRATING ALL SORTS OF DIFFERENT CULTURAL MINORITIES AND ADDRESSING THOSE NEEDS. HOWEVER... AND THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT THIS TAX CREDIT, EVERYBODY WHO'S RELIGIOUSLY-BASED OR OF A DIFFERENT CULTURE IS GOING TO FLEE THE PUBLIC SYSTEM. THAT'S LUDICROUS. WHAT YOU'VE GOT THOUGH IS AN OPPORTUNITY, AND AGAIN, I CAN'T EMPHASIZE THIS NUCHLT IT'S AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE ANSWERS TO WHY THESE PEOPLE WANT TO LEAVE. WHY THREE-QUARTERS OF THE PEOPLE OUT THERE FEEL THERE'S A BETTER... THERE'S GREENER GRASS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE. AND THIS PARTICULAR SITUATION I THINK WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS DO A MUCH BETTER JOB AS A PUBLIC SYSTEM OF ASKING THOSE QUESTIONS ABOUT WHY PEOPLE SEE...

Maureen says SEE THE NEED TO GO. IT WENT BY TOO FAST BUT THANK YOU BOTH FOR DOING THIS TODAY. GREG REID IS THE CHAIR OF THE ONTARIO PARENT COUNCIL, ANNIE KIDDER IS WITH PEOPLE FOR EDUCATION. YOU'LL FIND THEIR WEBSITE AT WWW.PEOPLEFOREDUCATION.COM.

A slate reads "People for Education, peopleforeducation.com, 416-410-3571."

Then, it changes to "Ontario Parent Council, 1-800-361-6483, opc@edu.gov.on.ca."

Maureen says TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE TAX CREDIT GO, TO THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION...

A slate reads "Ministry of Education, www.edu.gov.on.ca."

Maureen says That's all the time for this edition of More To Life. Thanks for watching. We're here Monday through Friday, live at 1 o'clock.

Watch: Private vs Public Education