To end the three-speed education system, the citizen movement École ensemble is proposing 100% funding for private schools to become free, non-selective, but still autonomous neighborhood schools.
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With its private schools, its specific selective projects in public schools, and the regular curriculum, Quebec’s school system has become the most unequal in Canada, according to a 2016 report by the Board of Education (CSE). .
The selection involves a concentration of students in difficulty in the ordinary classes, which increases inequality in a system that “has few winners and many losers,” says Claude Lessard, former president of the CSE who is now president of the movement. .
“Research has been saying this for a long time, the more diverse the classes, the higher the success rates,” he adds.
To achieve this, a movement founded by parents of students proposes not to abolish subsidies in private schools, but to fund them 100% to create a “common school network” to end educational competence.
In an extensive proposal made public on Tuesday, the École ensemble proposes to transform private schools into autonomous establishments, now 100% funded. These schools would have a designated school pool, just like any neighborhood school: exit tuition fees and entry selection.
However, “private concerted” establishments would not be integrated into the public network as they would not be managed by school service centers, but would retain their current legal status and, therefore, their own administration.
In school service centers, however, school zones would be completely redefined to take into account the presence of autonomous schools, according to “optimized” criteria to prevent “non-residential non-mobility of districts from being transferred to schools.” . , according to the proposal made public on Monday.
An example was given for the city of Laval.
End of school shopping
This proposal also aims to end school shopping: the student would attend the school associated with their place of residence, according to the redesigned map of school areas.
All schools in the common network, whether public or “private concerted”, would offer the free choice of free private courses. School schedules would be modified to include a fifth period devoted to elective subjects to enhance general education.
This timetable was implemented about ten years ago at the Sainte-Marie High School in Princeville, which allowed it to make a dramatic leap in the high school rankings presented by Le Journal in 2019.
Private schools that do not want to join the common network would become “unconventional” private institutions that would not receive any state funding and could continue to select their students and impose tuition fees, as in Ontario.
The transition would take place gradually over six years and eventually result in annual net savings of approximately $ 100 million in public funds, according to a study by economist François Delorme of the University of Sherbrooke.
This roadmap is largely inspired by the Finnish model, where private schools have been 100% funded and integrated into a common school network since the 1970s.
A few weeks ago, public figures such as sociologist Guy Rocher and philanthropist Claude Chagnon supported this idea in an open letter published here.
As the elections approach, the École ensemble movement is convinced that this solution meets the needs of parents who should no longer be asked if they can afford to pay for private school, if their child will be accepted. in the particular program you choose. or if proximity has to be sacrificed to meet the interests of your preteen who would like to find all of her elementary school friends in the same high school.
“It’s time to let the children of Quebec learn together,” says Anne-Marie Boucher, vice president of the École ensemble.