The school funding debate

TheStar.com – opinions/letters – Re: Rich schools get richer as private cash floods system, Feb. 28
Published On Tue Mar 01 2011

Your story raises valid concerns about growing inequities in our school system. Predictably, schools that raise $300,000 and those that raise much less in donations are creating unequal educational opportunities for our children.

Some suggest fundraising caps as a fix for these trends. Others propose redistributing fundraised dollars across the system, similar to my Toronto Public Library donations that support all libraries, not simply my local branch.

Another efficient solution would be to raise adequate revenues through fair taxes where people contribute according to their ability to pay. Then allocate these resources equitably. In fact, we used to have such mechanisms in place. We simply need to support a return to progressive and adequate tax levels to fund the public services we want.

Rob Howarth, Toronto

On the front page we have the story of underprivileged area schools not being able to raise money while wealthier area schools are cash cows. Then on Page 9 we have a story of the province unveiling a multi-million dollar scheme to teach kids how to manage money.

Obviously, the sensible course will (insert “not” here) be followed, whereby this huge money program goes completely to schools in non-wealthy areas, so they can use the funds to both obtain the “extras” for their schools and to learn about money management, which their wealthier area counterparts obviously have no need for.

How is our government suddenly able to come up with this kind of money when it can’t adequately fund schools (especially poorer ones) in the first place?

Sandra Hanmer, Hamilton

The great divide in public schools reflects the increasing divide in Ontario and Canada. The economic inequalities in Canada are one of the largest in the world and we are paying the price for this in terms of health care indices and the general well-being of our society.

Although this bigger picture needs addressing to solve the great divide, one of the interim measures to solve it could be pairing schools for fundraising — one school in a richer neighbourhood would pair with one poor school. This would mean that the fundraising for one richer school would always be shared with the poorer school and at least decrease the disparity that is growing at such an alarming rate.

Miriam Garfinkle, Toronto

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