As I mentioned in my popular Finland School post, there are no private schools in Finland. Miksi? Why? Because the country is so committed to national public education there is no need for private schools which cannot offer a better quality of schooling than what already exists. Ontario is not so fortunate. The proliferation of private schools in our province indicates that the public school education system—for a variety of reasons which I will not go into—is not able to deliver the quality of education parents want to provide for their children. And do not be misled by the rampant myth that only the elite take advantage of enrolling their kids: numerous surveys reveal that parents from all income, occupational, and educational groups send their children to private schools.
That is because Ontario parents are becoming disillusioned with our public school education system, especially after the massive teachers’ strike in 2015 which disrupted countless classrooms, cancelled extracurricular activities, and jeopardized students’ university applications when assignments ceased to be marked. Private school families will never have to worry about the threat of labour strife because of the nature of the institution and the private subsidization of teachers’ wages. In return, families also benefit from the following characteristics they report as having influenced their decision to make the switch to private school:
- a safe environment for their children
- dedicated teachers with additional certification (for IB World schools)
- an emphasis on academic quality
- a commitment to student success: no student left behind (only 85.5% of Ontario students graduated high school in 2015, a rate which has increased but according to The Toronto Star only because we are devaluing the OSSD. An IB Diploma can never be devalued)
- no bureaucratic red tape interfering with innovation and lesson plans
- private schools educate the “whole child” and develop student character
All of this helps to explain why there has been a significant growth of private school enrolment in the last two decades.