Monday, January 26, 2009

The unintended consequences of a childless society

Fundamentally, our society is changing. The average family size has changed dramatically in the last 30 years so I found this Toronto Star’s report interesting on the Toronto District School board’s decision to hire a recruitment expert to boost declining enrollment.
Toronto's public board is looking to boost enrolment – and funding – by hiring a recruitment expert, launching a public relations campaign and opening specialized schools to attract students from around the GTA, indicates a draft report going before trustees this week.

The ambitious report, which sets out a "new fiscal direction" for the Toronto District School Board, recommends a number of ways for it to increase revenues as well as better manage its money. "Stemming the decline of student enrolment or increasing enrolment is the single greatest opportunity to maintain or increase revenues," says the report obtained by the Star, as the bulk of education funding is on a per-student basis.

"The responsibility for student enrolment currently is spread throughout the organization with no one person responsible for developing and overseeing a plan to retain and recruit students." Last fall, the Toronto board lost about 4,000 students, a trend that is expected to continue.

Ultimately, the enrollment rate will its free fall despite the best efforts of any recruitment specialist because the basic premise is wrong. Enrollment is declining because people in Toronto choose to have less and less children. While I can applaud the TDSB’s efforts to offer more bang for our educational dollar ultimately they will have to recognize the days when the numbers of children entering the school system exceeded the numbers leaving are a thing of the past.

What will be interesting to watch in years to come is if our educational tax rates will fall in recognition of a drastically smaller student pool or will the TDSB and the teacher’s union attempt to defy and subvert the laws of supply and demand.

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