Ontario Federation of Independent Schools

August 20, 2009 12:00 ET

Education Minister's "Scarlet Letter" For Independent Schools Indicts Her Own Government

School Association Officials Representing More Than 75,000 Children in 600 Schools Say The Ministry of Education Should Just Do Its Job Better

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 20, 2009) - ISAO is surprised to learn that Ontario will start requiring high school credits and grades received from independent schools be flagged on student transcripts with the letter "P" starting this fall. Education Minister Kathleen Wynne claims that this policy change is in response to public concerns that some private schools are providing "easy marks" for a fee. ISAO members confirm that all of their credit-granting schools already submit to a regular and stringent ministry inspection process, which schools pay for themselves, in order to grant credits and the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

"These public concerns about independent schools only point the finger back at the ministry itself," says Audrey Hadfield, Chair of the ISAO, "as I check the ministry statistics, there are no ministry inspected private schools that have lost their credit-granting privileges since 2005. The ministry is supposed to use its website to keep the public notified about schools that fall into this category and there is just nothing there."

ISAO members are concerned that this policy change was made without consulting independent school association officials or even secondary school inspectors and is largely based on hearsay. There is also concern that this move will unnecessarily interfere with the viability of independent education by discouraging students from attending legitimate private schools for fear of having their permanent records tainted by the flagging of credits.

"A handful of public school guidance counselors and some union representatives do not exactly constitute knowledgeable or objective consultation on this issue," says Barb Bierman whose association is a member of ISAO, "the ministry needs to be concerned with the education of all students in the province, not just those attending independent schools. Public high schools are not inspected at all and we all just assume that those credits are valid without really knowing."

ISAO members say that their schools are beginning to doubt the ministry's motivations for such a policy change implying that this may be a move towards eliminating private school competition. Principals are wondering why they should allow ministry inspections to continue if they do nothing for the school's credibility. "We have to pay for these inspections so why should we pay for something that the ministry itself says has no value?"

ISAO is a network of independent school association leaders who meet together regularly to collaborate on protecting the integrity and autonomy of independent schools through maintaining strong communication with school associations and the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Contact Information

  • For More Information & List of Association Members:
    Independent School Associations of Ontario
    Audrey Hadfield, Chair