Policy advocacy, inequity, and school fees and fundraising in Ontario, Canada


  • Sue Winton York University
  • Michelle Milani York University




school fundraising, school fees, Ontario, policy, advocacy, rhetoric


Fundraising and collecting fees are ubiquitous in Ontario, Canada’s public schools. Critics assert that these practices perpetuate and exacerbate inequities between schools and communities. In this article we present findings from a critical policy analysis of an advocacy group’s efforts to change Ontario’s fees and fundraising policies over the past two decades. Rhetorical analyses of 110 texts finds that the group constructed the problem of each policy similarly, targeted the same audiences, and utilized many of the same strategies to appeal to logos, ethos, and pathos in their struggle over the policies’ meanings. However, only one out of four of the group’s policy meanings became dominant. The discursive and critical policy perspectives grounding the study directed us to examine how neoliberalism and the policies’ shared broader social, political, and economic contexts can help explain this outcome. Specifically, the group’s efforts to change Ontario’s school fees and fundraising policies confronted dominant discourses that construct parents as consumers of education and responsible for their children’s success in a competitive world, promote the meritocratic notion that successful people deserve their success and the benefits it brings, view the government as responsible only for providing the basic requirements of education, and support privatization and marketization of public schools.


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Author Biographies

Sue Winton, York University

Dr. Winton is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and co-director of the World Educational Research Association’s International Research Network on Families, Educators, and Communities as Educational Advocates. Her research examines policy advocacy, influences, and enactment. Dr. Winton’s critical policy analyses of fundraising, bullying, safe schools, and character education policies are published in journals such as Critical Studies in Education, Leadership and Policy in Schools, Educational Policy and Educational Studies.

Michelle Milani, York University

Michelle Milani is a PhD student in Education at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada




How to Cite

Winton, S., & Milani, M. (2017). Policy advocacy, inequity, and school fees and fundraising in Ontario, Canada. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25, 40. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.25.2679



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