End of three-speed school: 100 percent funding for private schools?

In order to put an end to the three-tier education system, the citizen movement École ensemble proposes that private schools be 100% funded so that they become free and non-choosy neighborhood schools, but still autonomous.

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With its private schools, its specific selective projects in public schools, and the regular program, the school system in Quebec has become the most unequal in Canada, according to a 2016 report by the Superior Council of Education (CSE).

The selection leads to a concentration of students with difficulties in the regular classes, which increases inequalities in a system that “has few winners and many losers”, confirms Claude Lessard, former president of the CSE and now president of the School together movement .

“Research has long said that the more diverse the classes, the higher the success rate,” he adds.

To achieve this, a movement founded by parents of students proposes that instead of eliminating private school subsidies, they should be funded 100% to create a “common school network” to end educational competition.

In a sweeping proposal published on Monday, the École-Ensemble proposes turning private schools into autonomous institutions, now 100% funded. These schools would have a designated school pool, like any neighborhood school: no more tuition and admission selection.

However, the “private contractual” institutions would not be integrated into the public network, as they would not be administered by the school service centers but would retain their previous legal form and thus their own administration.

In the school service centers, however, the school districts would be completely redefined according to “optimized” criteria, taking into account the presence of autonomous schools, in order to avoid “the residential mix of the districts being transferred to the schools”. , according to the proposal published on Monday.

An example was provided for the city of Laval.

Shopping at the end of school

This proposal also aims to put an end to school shopping: According to the newly designed school district plan, the pupil would attend the school assigned to his place of residence.

All schools in the common web, whether public or “private by appointment”, would offer a free choice of free private courses. School timetables would be changed to include a fifth period devoted to optional subjects to improve general education.

This schedule was introduced at Sainte-Marie High School in Princeville about ten years ago, giving it a spectacular jump in the ranking of featured high schools The newspaper in 2019.

Private schools that do not wish to join the common network would become “unconventional” private institutions, receiving no government subsidy and, as in Ontario, could continue to select their students and collect tuition.

According to a study by University of Sherbrooke economist François Delorme, the transition would be gradual over six years and would ultimately result in annual net savings of about $100 million in public funds.

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.

With elections approaching, the École Ensemble movement believes such a solution meets the needs of parents who would no longer have to question whether they can afford the expense of going to a private school if their child is placed in the program of their choice accommodated, or whether proximity must be sacrificed to accommodate the interests of her teenager, who wants to find all of his elementary school friends in the same high school.

“It’s high time we made it possible for children in Quebec to learn together,” says Anne-Marie Boucher, vice president of the École-Ensemble.

For his part, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge did not want to react to this proposal on Monday, preferring to take the time to analyze it before commenting on it, his cabinet said.

For its part, the Association of Private Educational Institutions objects to several aspects of this proposal, in particular as regards the impossibility of choosing a school and the introduction of a similar timetable in all establishments.

“We don’t agree with that, we think it’s important that the school can have its own color,” says its president, David Bowles.

The federal government also disputes the figures presented and considers the estimated savings to be “unrealistic”.

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