By Jonathon Van Maren
On Facebook, Roxanne Van Herk of Alberta posted a powerful rebuke to those who have been cheering the NDP attacks on private Christians schools—and dismantles the arguments being made in favor of shutting down the private schools that still hold to the principles they were created to promote:
News came today that many private schools (including the one that I attended from Grades 4-12) will face loss of funding next year if they do not comply with Bill 24. I have noticed that many people commenting on the various news articles today are in support of de-funding private schools, regardless of whether or not they comply with Bill 24. Many of the comments display outright lack of knowledge on how funding for schools works in Alberta. Here are some facts about private schools for you:
Most private schools (85%) are non-elite independent schools-we’re not talking ‘Gossip Girl’ here, guys. Family incomes of those who send their kids to private schools are comparable or lower than public school families.
As Minister Eggen said today, private schools receive up to 70% of the funding. On average, a student in a public school in Alberta costs taxpayers $10,874 per year. A student in a private school in Alberta costs taxpayers $5,150 per year. If you add the numbers up over a 5 year period, this means that private schools save Albertans $750 million every 5 years.
And while the Alberta government pays 60-70% of student yearly costs (depending on the independent school type), this does not include costs like building and renovations, or transportation and teacher pensions. For example, the renovations completed in Fort Macleod for the Livingstone Range School Division cost taxpayers about $5 million dollars. The school where I attended Grades 4-12 recently completed the addition of a large gym, kitchen, multiple classrooms, library, and do you know what the cost was to taxpayers? Nothing. Nada. Zip. It was covered by the fundraising efforts of parents and completed with many offering their trades and services at discounted rates or for free.
Many of the people I know who send their kids to private schools simply cannot afford to send their kids to the same schools if they are defunded. The private schools that are within 45 minutes of me which are facing defunding have ~1500 students enrolled currently. If even half of these students left the private schools and were enrolled in the public schools in the area, it would completely overwhelm and overtax the public schools’ resources.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that defunding independent schools is going to cost the public purse dearly. And by public purse, I mean YOU, the taxpayer.
And while many are complaining that their tax dollars are going to partially fund private schools, don’t forget that families who send their kids to private schools are taxpayers, as well.
One more fun fact: Did you know that the Calgary school system is ~$35 million in debt? Independent schools do not get away with this.
Think twice before you advocate for removing partial funding for private schools.
Van Herk is precisely right, and cuts through many of the lazy attacks on private schools (as well as responding effectively to the argument that always irritates me the most: The idea that somehow those who decide to bear a much greater financial burden to send their children to a Christian school are not also taxpayers, when in reality these parents are supporting the public system through their tax dollars as well as Christian schools out of their own pockets.)
Unfortunately, it does not appear as if Education Minister David Eggen is particularly interested in what makes economic sense at the moment. Nor, for that matter, does the NDP in general. Rather, he is interested in implementing his sexual worldview in schools built by hardworking, church-going Albertans, so that their children are taught his point of view. Eggen is fully willing to place an increased financial burden on taxpayers (and when has the NDP ever respected taxpayers?) in order to bully Christians into accepting his personal point of view, which he claims is universal truth—although ironically, he has also demanded that Christian schools abandon the idea that universal truth exists, to begin with.
Eggen and his fellow ideologues waited for years to get the opportunities power would afford them, and they are making the most of their four years. I only wish that conservatives were as enthusiastic about conserving things as Eggen and his thugs are about destroying them.