Elementary Teachers of Toronto

Elementary Teachers of Toronto

April 19, 2010 17:01 ET

Elementary Teachers of Toronto: Missing Funds Raise Bigger Questions About Fundraising for Public Schools

Community-based fundraising is a poor substitute for adequate education funding and risks fueling inequity between schools.

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 19, 2010) -

Attn: Assignment Editors, Education Reporters

The case of $56,000 raised by the community of Owen public school to finance school supplies and resources, and subsidize field trips, is about more than the alleged mishandling of funds by the Principal of one Toronto school, according to the Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT). It illustrates the extent to which school communities are under growing pressure to generate five and even six figure budgets to pay for expenses no longer covered by the provincial education budget. In addition, the growing trend to rely on community-raised funds is widening the gap between schools located in more affluent communities and those in "have not" communities.

As education budgets have ceased to cover the cost of many essentials - including textbooks, classroom supplies, sports and art equipment - parents have stepped in to raise increasingly large sums to close the funding gap. According to a 2008 report from People for Education, school communities generated $596 million during the 2006/07 school year, a figure that has almost certainly risen in subsequent years. "Parents and communities are being asked to pay for public education twice – once through their taxes and again through special program fees and endless fundraising initiatives," said Martin Long, President of ETT.

Critics have pointed out that community-based fundraising inevitably widens the gap between wealthier communities where class supplies, sports gear, musical equipment and class trips are in abundant supply and other communities where these so-called 'extras' are often absent. "Our members have described real inequities between the schools in different neighborhoods, based mainly on the relative ability of parents to raise money. This is unacceptable to teachers who believe in one standard of public education for all children(1)."

Long called on Premier Dalton McGuinty to acknowledge and deal with the problem. "Of course times are tough and provincial budgets are very tight, but under-funding of public education is fueling the creation of a two-tier public school system. I can't believe that Premier McGuinty would accept that as his legacy to public education." 

Long also challenged the Toronto District School Board to take pro-active steps to ensure greater regulation and accountability in the management of community raised funds, and to create a system where all Toronto schools enjoy a more equitable share of the monies raised. "Parents need to know that the money they raise will end up where it is intended. They also need to know that no matter what neighborhood they live in or what contribution they have made to school fundraisers, their child will have equal access to essential school resources," said Long. 

(1) See Voices from the Classroom for teacher's firsthand accounts of the impact of differences in fundraising and discretionary budgets between schools and neighborhoods. The full report is available at www.ett.on.ca.

Contact Information

  • Elementary Teachers of Toronto
    Martin Long
    416-393-9930 or (mobile) 416-708-8317
    www.ett.on.ca