August 14, 2019
The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Ministry of Education
13th floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M7A 1L2
Dear Minister Lecce:
On behalf of the Peel District School Board, congratulations on your role as Minister of Education. As we have discussed in person, we look forward to working with you as an education partner to truly, positively impact the lives of children in the communities we serve. We hope for your collaboration and openness as we advocate on behalf of Peel board students.
As you are likely aware, TeachON, an American lobbying group has established itself in Ontario to “address the disparity in government funding for families whose children attend an independent school in Ontario best suited to their educational needs.” As public school trustees, supporting the needs of the all learners in the wards in which we serve, I am writing to you on behalf of the Peel board to share our significant concerns related to any lobbying campaign that promotes and supports the funding of private schools over public schools.
A strong public education system, open to all, is the cornerstone of a healthy, inclusive and productive community. Communities cannot thrive unless public education is adequately funded and supported. This is why public taxes must continue to be directed towards supporting public education—every child deserves the same opportunity to access high-quality education in the communities in which they live.
Private school advocacy campaigns inaccurately portray the public school system as failing and as an inferior option for families. Reducing funding to public education impacts class sizes and program offerings, creating the illusion that the public school system is inadequate. With proper funding, we can continue to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of all learners.
The assumption that private school education is superior to public education is one that we look forward to dispelling. Peel board students consistently achieve academic and personal excellence, with access to high-quality learning and extracurricular opportunities.
By incentivizing the pursuit of private options that will lead to the defunding of public schools, we will foster systems of inequity and unnecessary barriers for our most vulnerable learners. We cannot afford to have governments who support private education over public education, offering tax breaks for families who are already able to pay for private school.
Providing high-quality, educational opportunities for all students continues to be a goal of this board. We trust we can count on the support of locally elected officials to side with us in support of the success of every learner, including those who would be further marginalized by an underfunded public education system.
Public subsidies for private schools reinforce systems of social and economic inequality. Adequately funded public schools are best positioned to help students overcome these barriers so every child has an opportunity. We trust government officials will set budget priorities that put students first, as we do, and ensure all children in Ontario receive fair and equitable access to education funding.
By definition, private schools are not “for all.” If we are “for the children,” we cannot only be “for some children.” We must advocate, support and welcome everyone.
As always, we welcome the opportunity to meet with you face-to-face to share our concerns so that you can better understand the impact of changes in funding to public education and the local implications for Peel board students. We invite you to visit Peel schools to see, first-hand, what we see every day: smiling, successful students who are being skillfully prepared to become leaders of tomorrow thanks to caring, committed educators and support staff.
Thank you for your consideration and trust in public education. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Chair, Peel District School Board
c. Peel District School Board Trustees
Peel Members of Provincial Parliament
Peel Members of Parliament
Peel Parent Involvement Committee
Peel School Councils
Peel Special Education Advisory Committee
Chairs of all Ontario Public and Catholic School Boards
Ontario Public School Boards’ Association