Equitable and Inclusive Education for All? Public Funding for Denominational Schools in Ontario
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Roman Catholic separate schools’ denominational right to receive public funding is a contentious issue in Ontario’s educational system. Ontario’s publicly funded denominational schools historically served a purpose at Confederation; however, in light of Ontario’s evolving demographics, publicly funding denominational schools today may no longer serve the needs of Ontario. The research problem in this study is expressed through growing problems reconciling Roman Catholic schools with diversity and current public views. Additionally, recent tensions, public views, and political consensus suggest it is time to revisit the existing policy. In order to understand both the history of denominational schools and the present context, this study conducted II policy analyses as its research design by completing 2 policy cycles. The first policy cycle determined that based upon Upper and Lower Canada’s pre-Confederation diversity, extending public funding to denominational schools at Confederation was an effective way of protecting minority rights; however, the analysis in the second policy cycle; which examined how equitable and inclusive denominational schools are today, concluded that the denominational school system no longer serves the diversity and equity needs of contemporary Ontario. Building on these findings, this study then explored two viable alternative educational arrangements for Ontario’s future educational system: publicly funding all faith-based schools, or publicly financing a one-school-system. To address the diversity issue in Ontario, transitioning toward publicly funding a one-school-system is found to be the most viable option.