In a move that is bound to face resistance from parents, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) announced plans to introduce fees ranging in the thousands of dollars for students enrolling in specialized International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.
The IB program is an enriched academic stream that “aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect,” according to its mission statement.
This program is offered at private schools or for a fee by public school boards. In the past few years, the TDSB has been offering the programs for free at six Toronto schools, but starting 2020-21 school year, those enrolled will have to shell out a $3,000 fee for the program: $1,500 for Grade 11 and $1,500 for Grade 12.
According to reports, training teachers and all other costs related to providing students a highly enriched learning environment costs a fortune and given TDSBs budget crunch, these costs are being passed on to parents.
TDSB is facing a $67-million shortfall this year, as a result of provincial cuts and a structural deficit.
Both the Peel District School Board and York Region District School Board confirmed that they have diploma IB programs with costs in a similar range to what’s being introduced in Toronto.
In a news release, a group of parents, students, teachers and members of the community called Say No to IB Fees laid the blame for the introduction of fees on the province and changes to education funding.
The Ministry of Education said in a statement that the province is “committed to ensuring all children in the province have access to a world-class education system,” and noted that the IB program is voluntary.
The Say No to IB Fees group says TDSB census data shows household incomes for families with students at Parkdale CI are lower than the rest of the TDSB, and also that 36 per cent of the school’s population is enrolled in the IB program. -CINEWS