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This is the first in a series of releases designed to introduce our new Campaign platform for 2013-14.
The Ontario Libertarian Party believes education is the responsibility of the parents and the families of children. Parents should be free to choose the school or program that they believe best suits the needs of their children, at the best price. To make education more affordable and effective, competition and innovation must be introduced, which will allow a choice-based system to flourish in Ontario. Libertarians would eliminate the government-mandated monopolies now involved in education.
Our short-term focus, in other words what we would do if given a mandate, is designed to provide more choice to parents immediately. Libertarians would alter legislation to allow parents to direct their education taxes to any school currently approved by the Ministry of Education, parents choose the school, and the dollars would follow the students. Parents that choose to home school their children would be granted tax credits to recognize their choice.
Libertarians would also seek to treat all religions equally, no special privileges to Catholic schools, indeed we would liberate Catholic schools, and all religious schools from being forced to teach or comply with concepts that are contrary to their beliefs as currently required by legislation.
Over the long term Libertarians would alter the system so that the schools would become directly accountable to parents rather than to school boards or the Ministry. This would mean eliminating the numerous departments and agencies that are supposed to improve student learning, but in reality do no such thing. Libertarians would replace school boards with voluntary community or Charter boards that would administer their particular local school. These actions alone would go a long way to reduce and reverse the rapid increase in per-pupil-spending as described by a Ministry of Finance document: “the combination of increased funding and declining enrolment has led to a 56 per cent increase in per-pupil funding from $7,201 in 2002–03 to $11,207 in 2011–12.” That is an extraordinary increase in just nine years. Worse still, the total cost of education today has been aggravated by the implementation of full day kindergarten, which would likely disappear as the local schools try to rein in costs.
In the Libertarian long term plan; community or Charter boards would oversee the employment, remuneration, and working conditions of their teachers and staff. Some schools would cater to their particular community, others would offer special programs, and students from any neighbourhood would be eligible to apply to any school. Eventually parents would pay schools directly, and local businesses and philanthropic organizations would help support families in need and their local schools.
Once released from the top down control of School Boards and the Ministry, schools would offer more options, more innovations in curricula, an improved salary system for teachers and better schedules for both parents and children. Competition, innovation, and the creation of best practices among schools across the province, would be commonplace, something that does not exist today.
Its time to face facts, tinkering with the system as it is now, will not make it work any better. Each school today is organized as a community unto itself; the disappearance of the external trappings of Board and Ministry would be a welcome relief to local schools, allowing principals and staff to focus on the needs of their students and the expectations of parents.
The Ontario Libertarian Party has been a registered political party since 1975. We advocate free markets, property rights, limited government, and voluntary interactions within communities between individuals and groups. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org