Reduction in funding for online private schools a step in the right direction

The BC Humanist Association is applauding a step by the Ministry of Education to reduce public support for online private schooling.

The Government of BC funds in-person private schools up to 50% of the per-student amount of neighbouring public schools; however, online distributed learning (DL) programs run by private schools were funded at up to 63% of the rate of public DL programs. In person elite private schools receive 35% funding and the equivalent DL programs received 44.1%.

Under the changes announced earlier this month, privately operated DL programs will now only receive 50% or 35% of what a public DL program receives. Further, new private DL programs will only be funded at the 35% level for their first year.

The change reverts the private DL funding model to what it was prior to the 2012/13 school year.

Unlike homeschooling, students participating in DL are connected with certified teachers online. The majority of private DL programs are religious.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:

We've seen private schools, both virtual and brick-and-mortar, adopt policies to refuse teachers, students and families on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Many of these schools push Biblical creationism in science classrooms. Funding for these schools entrenches divides along religious and socioeconomic lines.

So the move to reverse top-ups for private DL programs is a good step towards a more equitable education system but there's still a long way to go.

While in person classes, particularly during COVID-19, are not suitable for every student, the Government's priority should funding a public education system (whether in person or online) that is open to and accepting of everyone.

The BCHA has called for an end to the public funding of private schools. The organization has previously documented how Christian and Catholic schools receive the lion's share of private school funds. Polls have consistently found strong opposition to the public funding of private schools.

One of the largest private DL programs is Heritage Christian Online School, who also operate BC Online School. In its writeup for Life Sciences 11, the teacher writes:

Disclaimer: this course used to be known as Biology 11 but has changed significantly and now is largely a course about evolutionary processes. Warning: lots of the content is very non-biblical but I state what I believe and what HCOS believes and do my best to teach the content required in a way that provides a Christian worldview. I recommend this course for students heading into the Sciences at university (included Nursing, and Medicine). The 3 major topics are Processes of Life, Processes of Evolution, and Organization of Life. In the Online version of this course students watch lesson videos, take notes, learn key vocabulary, complete interesting assignments, complete engaging projects/labs, and perform research on a variety of topics.

Similarly, for Earth Sciences 11:

This course will guide students in a personal discovery of creation as it pertains to the natural order of the Earth, the laws and processes by which it is governed, issues related to the geological timetable and finally the Earth’s place in the created order of the universe. Students will explore these concepts through a Christian worldview that seeks to also evaluate competing worldviews in order to equip them with the ability to evaluate each from a biblical perspective.  Students will be encouraged to engage in readings, experiments, and personal discovery projects in order to experience the course material in a visual and kinaesthetic manner. This process will enable them to celebrate the immense creativity with which the earth was created and help them to further develop their faith through an appreciation of the mysterious ways in which God created.


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