OFTP President Albert Lubberts outlined for the committee the education choices available to Ontario residents under the Education Act of this province. He stressed the fact that parents may, without government interference, choose to provide a learning environment at home under the sections dealing with private schools or under Section 21 which speaks of home based education. These provisions under the Act support the parent’s “right to choose whatever program they believe is most satisfactory for their child. This may be in the public school, in an inspected private school, in a non-inspected private school or at home with a program designed by the parents.”
He spoke against the current attitude which views children as “clients” who are being served by “experts” and the increased risk facing families from a bureaucracy which has shown a disregard for the law and a leaning toward personal biases and prejudicial decisions. To support this statement he outlined three scenarios, all of which have happened with alarming regularity in the home education community within the past few years. The first concerns the involvement of social services agencies and children’s aid agencies by some school boards when they are confronted with families who choose to home educate. The second detailed the government’s attack against private schools set up by home educators and the third involved the blatant disregard for the Education Act in an ad placed in a Haliburton newspaper warning home educating parents of repercussions if they failed to comply with the superintendent’s wishes. Albert traced all of these scenarios back to the Ministry of Education and Training staff who appear to be carrying out their personal agendas in these areas.
He closed his address by commenting on the superior results obtained by children educated at home and the enormous tax saving to residents of Ontario due to several thousand families who are choosing to educate their children themselves. The final comments he made are as follows: “OFTP looks forward to the time when parental rights will be respected and honoured by the government. Home based education, despite the best efforts of this regime, has flourished and established a successful track record. Home based instructed children are growing up, maturing and continuing to enjoy learning as a life long experience. They are succeeding to be great citizens of this fine country, in whatever career they choose. There is no door closed to them despite the efforts of obstructionist authorities. OFTP wishes that all children, in whatever form of education that their parents choose for them, have the same success. We trust that the Ontario government will look long and hard at the changes it wants to make with the Education Quality Improvement Act, 1997 to see if these really meet the needs of children as determined by their parents.”