Social Planning Toronto presents its February Research & Policy Forum: “The Real Cost of Public Education: Fees, Fundraising, Equity and Access in Ontario”
Being a student in Ontario’s public education system is supposed to mean having access to a top-quality education – free of charge. This past reality, unfortunately, is not our present state of affairs. User fees, many violating Ontario’s Education Act, are popping up throughout the system to cover gaps in funding. In our more affluent schools parents are fundraising hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover items ranging from computers to school renovations to art supplies that used to be funded out of school budgets, while other students in other schools go without. Our neediest students, even our middle-class students, are struggling to pay for an education that should be free, while some schools are providing an education subsidized by the wealth of generous alumni.
How do we begin to reintroduce equity into the education system?
Hugh Mackenzie, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, on the historical funding situation that led us to our current discussion of “How do we apply charges equitably?” rather than “Why are we charging user fees/seeking fundraising and corporate money at all?”
Annie Kidder, People for Education, on the latest research looking at fees and fundraising and the growing divide across the province.
Faduma Mohamed, Labour Community Services, on the impact of fees and fundraising on equity, access and opportunity for our students.