A significant and growing minority of parents choose alternative education options for their children.
The most common alternatives are independent schools, homeschooling and supplementary tutoring.
Currently, more than 14 000 students are enrolled at independent schools in Manitoba, which receive only half of the per-capita resources allocated to public schools do. Tuition fees make up the difference.
Giving parents more control of this funding, so that the money follows the child, would make independent schools an option available to all, not just the affluent.
Approximately 1,500 students in Manitoba are homeschooled. They may be receiving a higher quality of education than most public school students, with no government funding at all.
If the government paid for the curriculum costs of home-schooled students to a maximum of $1,000, taxpayers would still save $7,000 per year over the cost of educating that child in the public school system, and homeschooling would be financially viable for more Manitoba families.
Many children in public schools are performing below grade level. Parents with the means often purchase additional tutoring or remedial schooling. Private tutoring services have excellent track records and provide guarantees that students enrolled with them will show measurable improvement quickly.
Public school divisions should be required to pay for independent-school tutoring for students who are significantly behind the average achievement levels for their grade. Remedial tutoring should be available to all who need it, not only those who can afford it.
Holding public schools responsible for the costs of supplementary tutoring would encourage them to be more vigilant in ensuring that students are well-educated.
Parents who choose alternative education options should not be required to pay for their children’s education twice. The ability to choose the education best suited to their child’s needs should not be restricted to the wealthy.