Public money for private schools - at what cost?

    TORONTO, Sept. 8 /CNW/ - Two million students in Ontario public schools
would pay the real price for the Conservative plan to rip money out of public
education and hand it over to private religious schools, says Liberal Deputy
Premier George Smitherman.
    "John Tory has not done his homework. He hasn't thought this through. His
private school scheme is a desperate attempt to pander for votes, but it will
come at the expense of 2 million kids in public schools," said Smitherman.
    A simple calculation shows that full funding for 53,000 students now in
private religious schools entering the public system would cost $500 million,
$100 million more than Conservatives are saying. (53,000 private religious
school students x $9,526 per student funding in public education equals $504
    And that's with no increased enrolment, no new buildings, no transition
costs and no inflation. All of this leaves Ontarians with more questions than
answers. Here are just a few:

    1. Would the government pay for new buildings and expansions of private
       religious schools? At what cost?

    2. Would different religions have their own school boards and
       administrations? At what cost?

    3. Would teachers in private religious schools have to be certified and
       trained in the Ontario curriculum? At what cost?

    4. As private schools siphon students from public schools, would the
       government provide extra funding to keep those community public
       schools open? At what cost?

    5. Who would decide which private religious schools qualify for public
       school funding? At what cost?

    6. If the Conservatives stuck to a $400 million price tag - which
       religious denomination would they leave out?

    "Putting out a divisive policy like this for political gain is the
defining example of John Tory's questionable judgment," said Smitherman. "His
politics before principle approach is wrong for Ontario and needs to be

For further information:

For further information: Ben Chin, (416) 961-3800, ext 412,

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