Education is the focus for this issue.

I’ve experienced both good and bad education. As a teenager I dropped out of high school, bored stiff by the mediocrity. Going back to university as a mature student, I experienced the excellence of a truly good education and thrived.

After watching John Tory go down in flames in the recent provincial election, it’s obvious that his idea of funding private education upset a huge number of people. Those supporting private education worried that the quality of education in private schools would drop. Those supporting public education worried that more funds would be taken from the public system, and the move would simply benefit the elite.

The Tory campaign failed to see that suggesting a change to education while going into an election is about as bad as suggesting that women be banned from working. Education is part of the fabric of society – it provides hope for the future.

Sometimes I wonder what path my life might have taken had I had the opportunity of a good education at the high-school level. I remember how much I hungered for a challenge then, and how bored I was with school. I felt as if my life were being held back. Instead of learning in a fertile environment, I was decaying in a desert.

If I had been given an option, would I have chosen a better education? I might have. And that’s why I’m so passionate about Children First School Choice Trust.* It was set up by Claudia Hepburn, managing director of the Ontario division of the Fraser Institute, to provide tuition for families who can’t afford to send their children to the school of their choice.

My three-year-old son leaves a small hand-print in paint on a piece of paper in the kitchen. It’s his first artistic statement that says: “I am here. I exist as one unique individual.” As he grows, the environment will shape a huge part of who he becomes. To treat children like sheep, to put them into the same schools, same classes, give them all the same type of instructing will work for some kids, while others will flounder. Private schools offer a variety of teaching styles and different environments; they offer an opportunity for children to excel.

Sarah Thomson can be reached at


Children First has recently launched its Shoe Fundraiser Campaign. To learn more about Children First School Choice and their program go to www.


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