The Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario (CIS Ontario) welcomes the much-anticipated provincial Auditor-General’s report on the oversight of private schools, released on December 10, 2013. Through extensive investigation, the Auditor-General found incidences of improper registration, unwarranted credit-granting, and repeated non-compliance with Ministry of Education policies in a few schools. CIS Ontario encourages the Ministry of Education to address these deficiencies in order to restore public confidence in private schools at large. The document in its entirety, can be found HERE.
How does this affect CIS Ontario schools? To understand the relationship between CIS Ontario and the Ministry of Education oversight, please see below.
1. In the Province of Ontario, all schools that do not receive public funding are categorized as “private”. This very broad category includes elementary and secondary schools, profit and not-for-profit schools, faith-based schools, specialty schools for students with disabilities, and independent schools, to name a few. Unfortunately there is no differentiation within the over 1000 “private” schools in the Province and as such, all are too often inaccurately painted with the same brush.
2. CIS Ontario is a collegial organization of 47 schools, 44 which are in Ontario. Although CIS Ontario represents approximately 4% of the total number of “private” schools in the province, CIS Ontario schools educate approximately 25,000 students, close to 23% of the total number of students attending “private” schools.
3. All CIS Ontario member schools must comply with vigorous membership criteria and verify their compliance with these criteria annually. Membership criteria include meeting quality standards in academic programming ( leading to a post-secondary education), demonstrating proven financial stability, having an ‘arms-length’ governance structure in place, and maintaining an active engagement with the association and its programs and services.
4. Although the Government of Ontario does not differentiate between independent and private schools, CIS Ontario schools consider themselves to be independent. All member schools are governed independently, and are overseen by an elected Board of Governors that ensures the financial stability of the institution and oversees its policies and mandate.
5. As the legislation stands at the moment, the Ministry of Education inspects only those schools that grant credits leading to the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). This places the onus of responsibility on the parent to undertake due diligence when searching for a quality learning environment whose philosophy, values and approach to teaching are appropriate for their child.
6. Schools belonging to CIS Ontario challenge students with academic rigor, offer high-quality inter-school student programs, and engage faculty in proactive and targeted professional development. Member schools engage in collective resource-sharing and work together to ensure compliance with all federal and provincial legislation.
The mission of CIS Ontario is to “advance educational excellence in Ontario independent schools” . As such, the organization is committed to supporting the Ministry of Education with its challenging responsibility to ensure quality “private” education for all Ontario families.