Freedom of choice not acceptable: PQ leader Marois (Credit: Louperivois)
Quebec's education ministry recently released an updated homeschooling policy. A number of Montreal-area homeschooling families are concerned about the policy, and feel it robs parents and students of the right to choose.
But considering the current climate in Quebec public education, homeschooling may well increase in popularity precisely because it offers parents more freedom of choice than the public and private school alternatives. Consider the following:
1) Language of instruction
Although the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms contains clauses that protect minority language educational rights, it does not protect the right for all parents to choose English or French schools where both exist. In Quebec, only children who possess an eligibility certificate may attend English schools. Both the Liberal government and the Parti Québecois opposition are in favour of legislation that prevents parents from using the so-called "bridging schools" to establish that eligibility.
PQ leader Pauline Marois spoke out specifically against the parent's freedom to choose language of instruction. "It is not acceptable to send this message, that it is possible to have free choice," said Marois earlier this week. She also spoke of conducting a whole new "battle" over language in education. The PQ has already suggested extending the application of language laws to preschool and daycare settings, as well as to post-secondary institutions which are currently open to all students.
2) Religion and secularism in Quebec schools
Students in both public and private schools in Quebec are required to follow the state curriculum for religion, a fairly recent requirement that has met with protest from individual families, as well as from private religious schools. Secularism has also been an issue over the past school year, with the expulsion of a young student who wears a niqab leading ultimately to the creation of a law that will enforce secularism in Quebec's public schools.
3) Nationalist propaganda in history exam
Grade 10 history is a requirement for both high school graduation and admission to Quebec's college system. This year's final exam came under fire in the English press for its emphasis on Quebec nationalism.
Tasks set for students included answering questions such as, "What makes Quebec distinct?" and, "How can Quebec protect its distinct status?" Students were also required to produce a two-page essay with the topic, "Will the recognition of Quebec as a nation help protect Quebec's distinct society?" Results are not yet in, so there is no way to know whether students will be evaluated on their support of Quebec nationalism or on the quality of their responses - be they in support of sovereignty and protection of Quebec's distinct culture, or not.
Philip Authier, "We'd kill Bill 103, PQ warns." Global News
Jim Wilson, "Grade 10 exam smells like propaganda." The Gazette