If G.K. Chesterton’s observation, “Education is simply
the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another,” is
correct (as his observations usually were), then both the soul and
educational system of Ontario are in jeopardy.
The education offered in public schools in Ontario is clearly neither “value
neutral” nor designed to reinforce traditions derived from home
The real crisis in the province’s educational system today — as
opposed to the common complaint of “underfunding” — is
the overwhelming atmosphere of political correctness, which deprives
students of genuine ethics and morality and contributes to ever-deepening
nihilism among young people.
The typical large, urban high school is set, by many teachers and
education-policy administrators, on a course of relentless war against “normal,” “mainstream,” and “majority” outlooks.
To a large extent, these trends were launched by the Dennis-Hall Report
of the 1960s. This official provincial paper, written by two self-described “progressives” in
the first flush of Sixties radicalism, proposed massive reforms of
public education, and its attitudes have now worked themselves into
many areas of life in Ontario.
History is one of the most important programs of study for the future
of society. It gives people a coherent sense both of the past and of
a national, collective sense of meaning and purpose. A society with
no real sense and love of its past is as abnormal as an individual
who has no cherished personal memories.
In the last four decades, the relatively small amount of history taught
in the public high-school system tended to portray traditional Canada,
Britain, and the West in general as a repository of racism, sexism,
and oppression. Little that was positive was said about the Canada
that existed before 1965, even less said in praise of the monarchy.
Canadian history and national identity were essentially defined as
the struggle of various “designated groups” against various
kinds of oppressive majorities. Young Canadians of British or European
descent were systematically stripped of a coherent community identity
and taught to hate themselves and their history.
Indeed, in the last four decades, anything smacking of a genuinely
conservative or traditionalist outlook has been largely removed from
the public educational systems in large urban areas.
The educational system did not provide a counterweight to all the
media and pop-culture trends. Even if some students could be found
in the typical, large urban high school who are capable of intelligently
expressing a conservative or traditionalist viewpoint, they have not
been encouraged to do so. On the contrary, they were generally derided
by their teachers and peers. The education offered was often directed
to bleaching out any vestiges of social conservatism and traditionalism
that could be identified among the students. The educational experts,
were they so inclined, would be hard-pressed to point to even one large,
urban, public high school in which a lively and truly diverse political
debate takes place today.
In this same period, many of the norms, ethics, and standards in
the educational system have been jettisoned in the name of “permissiveness” and
the attack on the so-called authoritarian personality. The general
breakdown of manners and school and social discipline is evident. Curiously,
while death-metal music, voodoo, and body-piercings are permissible,
the expression of any more-robust or substantive traditionalism is
seen as “hateful” or “insensitive” — and
Also, in the last four decades, virtually all forms of traditional
Christianity have been hounded from the educational system. The Christian
ethos, which could provide a fortifying inoculation against many types
of nastiness and incivility, has been jettisoned. The result increasingly
is a vacuum that encourages nihilism and violence.
Many educational bureaucrats in Ontario have twisted the purpose of
public education away from its proper mission and into furthering a
pronounced left-liberal agenda. They have tried to put into practice,
overtly and covertly, a highly anti-traditional, anti-historical, and
anti-religious set of educational policies. They are deliberately trying
to control the shape of the future by controlling the education of
From the founding of the Dominion of Canada in 1867, education was
the responsibility of the respective provinces, and Catholic primary-
and secondary-school systems have been largely publicly funded. Despite — or
perhaps precisely because of — public funding, Catholic education
in most parts of the province differs little from that offered in the
public education system.
In 1985, Progressive Conservative (PC) Premier Bill Davis promised
to extend full public funding to Catholic secondary schools above grade
10 in Ontario; the result was an electoral disaster for his party,
presumably because it alienated the core Protestant support — although
the winning Liberal party did in fact fulfill that promise. In the
2007 provincial election campaign, John Tory, the leader of the PC
party — reacting to the perceived inequality of public funding
for a Catholic school system — promised to fully publicly fund
all faith-based schools (including Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu schools) — but
this also turned out to be an electoral disaster for the PCs.
A system of tuition tax credits for parents of children in private
schools probably would have been far more effective in improving education
and more-defensible to the electorate as a policy plank for the PCs
than the proposal to fully fund faith-based schools while requiring
those schools to teach the provincial curriculum. That curriculum could
encompass such issues as sex education and the inculcation of “anti-homophobic” attitudes.
In May 2001, the provincial government of Progressive Conservative
Mike Harris introduced legislation allowing for substantial tuition
tax credits for parents of children attending private schools. However,
with the triumph of Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals in the 2003 provincial
election, that legislation had been shelved.
Although the Ontario Progressive Conservative party is probably unwilling
and unprepared for a raw battle over ethos, perhaps some reinforcement
of real diversity and pluralism of belief in the educational system
could occur as a result of a “cost-effectiveness” and “value
for taxpayers’ money” approach.
The enactment of tuition tax credits for private primary- and secondary-level
schooling would probably result in increasing numbers of truly diverse,
private educational institutions. This could be enough to persuade
the educational-policy administrators and radical leaders of unions
to behave more responsibly — and with greater commitment to true
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