To put an end to the three-speed education system, the citizen movement École ensemble proposes to fund private schools 100% so that they become free and non-selective neighborhood schools, but still autonomous.
With its private schools, its specific selective projects in public schools and the regular program, the Quebec school system has become the most inequitable in Canada according to a report by the Superior Council of Education (CSE) published in 2016.
The selection leads to a concentration of pupils in difficulty in the ordinary classes, which increases the inequalities in a system which “has few winners and many losers” affirms Claude Lessard, former president of the CSE who is today president of the movement. School together.
“Research has been saying it 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 to private schools, but rather to finance them 100% to create a “common school network” in order to put an end to competition in education.
In an extensive proposal made public on Tuesday, École ensemble proposes to transform private schools into autonomous establishments, now 100% funded. These schools would have a designated school pool, like any neighborhood school: exit the tuition fees and the selection at the entrance.
The “private under agreement” establishments would not, however, be integrated into the public network since they would not be managed by the school service centres, but would retain their current legal status and therefore their own administration.
In the school service centers, the school areas would however be completely redefined to take into account the presence of independent schools, according to “optimized” criteria in order to avoid “that the residential non-mixedness of the districts is transferred to the schools”. , according to the proposal made public on Monday.
An example was provided for the city of Laval.
This proposal also aims to put an end to school shopping: the student would attend the school associated with his place of residence, according to the redesigned map of school areas.
All the schools in the common network, whether public or “private under agreement”, would offer a free choice of free private courses. School timetables would be modified to include a fifth period devoted to elective courses to enhance general education.
This schedule was implemented about ten years ago at Sainte-Marie secondary school in Princeville, which allowed it to make a spectacular leap in the ranking of secondary schools presented by Le Journal in 2019.
Private schools that do not wish to join the common network would become “unconventioned” private establishments, which would receive no state subsidy and could continue to select their students and impose tuition fees, as in Ontario.
The transition would take place gradually over six years and would ultimately result in net annual 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 like 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 such a solution meets the needs of parents who would no longer have to wonder if they can afford to pay for private school, if their child will be accepted in the particular program of his choice or whether proximity has to be sacrificed to meet the interests of their preteen who would like to find all his friends from primary school in the same secondary school.
“It is high time to allow children in Quebec to learn together,” says Anne-Marie Boucher, vice-president of École ensemble.