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Education Funding

Also on the program, an answer to a question that was posted on our answering machine last week. The question came from Tanya Bouwman, a listener who lives in the Hamilton area. She wanted to know about education funding; specifically, whether it was wise for Christian and independent schools to accept government money if there might be strings attached to that funding. “In Ontario, we fund our own schools. And in spite of over a decade of a Liberal government and lots of problems in the public schools, our schools are exempt for now. But in Alberta, where there is funding, a similar government has immediately intruded into private schools. Would it be safer to not have the government money, and also not have the regulations that come with it?”

ARPA Executive Director Mark Penninga provided an answer to the question. He says the answer, essentially, is “yes – but.”

“Yes”, he says, “we do need to be aware of the strings that come from any government handouts. The more the state is involved, the more it’s going to expect to be able to control what it is involved with. (And) we’d be foolish to not realize that the state has very different objectives when it comes to education than we do as parents.” However, Penninga says, there is more to the issue than just money. He says the reality is that “funding actually plays a very, very minor role in this question about government interference.” He says he doesn’t believe that many provincial governments actually care very much whether independent schools get funding.

“The far bigger issue”, he says, “is ideology. If a province is being ruled by a premier or an education minister (who is) a secular humanist, you can expect them to use whatever tools are at their disposal to push their ideology on the children of that province,” including into the Christian schools. He says irrespective of funding issues, governments have other means of authority, including accreditation. “We’d be remiss if we thought that by not having government funding, we would be protecting ourselves.” Penninga adds that “funding or not, in the cultural climate we live in, we all need to take an active role in protecting our fundamental freedoms, especially when it comes to educating our covenant children.”

You can leave a question, just like Tanya did. Just go to the answering machine button on the Lighthouse News home page, and we’ll try to deal with it on a subsequent program.

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