But accountability and standards must be maintained

by Roderick Benns
The executive director of one of Community Living Ontario’s most ambitious associations, Chris Grayson, says having choice in education is a healthy idea within a system he calls “broken.” Grayson, of Community Living Campbellford/Brighton, was responding to Wednesday’s story on Community Living Leaders that profiled a new study of The Fraser Institute. In the story, the managing director and director of education policy for The Fraser Institute, Claudia Hepburn, says children with disabilities would be the big winners if there was a little competition between public and private schools for students.

The study she co-authored is called ‘Let The Funding Follow The Children: A Solution For Special Education In Ontario’. The study says the Province should allow all families of students in special education to choose their own education provider, not just those who can afford the tuition at private schools.
“There are all kinds of stories across the province that tell us the system is broken,” says Grayson. “Like it or not,” says Grayson, the idea of competition is healthy. “In the school system, if people are not getting the services they need, and they have choice, why not?”

Echoing Hepburn’s comments, Grayson says any change in the way the education system works should not just be for those who are rich. “Choice should not be a requirement based on someone’s ability to pay,” he says. Families should be able to make a choice based on what is best for them, Grayson adds.

Chris Grayson leads a highly successful Community Living association, having won the Donner Canadian Foundation Award For Excellence two times for delivery of services to people with disabilities, as well as the overall Donner Canadian Foundation Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services. He has long been a proponent of less government involvement for associations, and says, alternatively, agencies should be looking for “more creativity and flexibility.”

The only caution Grayson makes to The Fraser Institute report is standards would somehow have to be addressed. “Accountability and standards need to be ensured.”