Urgent: The Minister of Education, Jean-FrançoisRoberge, has just submitted a draft regulation to change the Quebec homeschooling legal framework !
If the draft regulation proposed by the Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge is adopted
- Ministry exams would be mandatory;
- The Québec program would have to be taught as is for French, English, Mathematics, Science and Technology, and Social Studies;
- The content would have to be taught in such a way as to allow progression of learning equivalent to what is taught in school;
- The child would have to attend all monitoring meetings;
- This regulation would come into force on July 1st, 2019.
We have until May 10 to be heard about this matter.
It's time to act!
AQED’s strategy in short
AQED is working hard to change the minds of legislators by meeting with the Education Minister, MNAs, and many other stakeholders. AQED will submit a brief. We are also considering other avenues if the regulation is adopted in this restrictive form.
You can help!
1. Comment on the draft regulation by contacting Stéphanie Vachon, Secretary General: stephanie.vachon [at] education.gouv.qc.ca.
2. Send an email to your MNA, call them, meet them! We want them to know us!
3. Make yourself seen and heard by contacting your local media and organizing and participating in demonstrations.
4. Investigate. Contact your school board to better understand the resources available to comply with this possible version of the regulation.
5. Keep yourself informed and let us know your perspective so we can represent you well.
For more details
What AQED is doing
Our main strategy consists of 6 elements, to work with legislators to adapt this bill to our reality.
I. We had a conversation with Jean-François Roberge to explain to him how some elements of the draft regulation could have a negative impact on families who educate their children “well”.
A. The 30-minute discussion with Education Minister Jean-François Roberge was very cordial and constructive. He seemed open and asked questions to better understand.
B. We discussed how following the Quebec program of study and doing the exams was a problem for families
C. He believed that the flexibility to follow the program by cycle rather than by school year was sufficient to allow families to use alternative teaching methods. He was also worried about the children who would need to go back to school in case of divorce or other emergency situations.
D. Following several questions and examples, he began to understand why it was an issue even for successful families, and why ministry exams could be problematic even if they only occured 5 times during children’s educational journey.
E. He also understood that families returning their children to school support them in this transition, that this kind of change is generally prepared in advance and that even in extreme cases, these children are generally better equipped to return to school than immigrant children from countries with lower literacy levels.
F. We also discussed historical problems experienced with certain school boards and the importance, in this context, of clarifying the purpose of the making the child’s presence mandatory in the monitoring meetings. Meetings should not become evaluations and the child’s progression should not be discussed in front of him or her in cases where this discussion could undermine the child's self-esteem.
G. Mr. Roberge concluded by saying that it was for this kind of feedback that this consultation period was taking place and that he was going to take into consideration what we said to him.
II. We are meeting with members from the Culture and Education Committee
III. We are doing interviews in the media to raise awareness and reduce public pressure on members of parliament to tighten the rules.
IV. We are discussing with our lawyers and paralegals to develop our arguments.
V. We are discussing with other associations to develop a common strategy.
VI. We are starting work on a brief in response to this draft regulation.
AQED is also exploring the following options if, despite our communication efforts, the regulation significantly affects the ability of parents to meet the needs of their children:
A. Initiate a legal procedure: our legal committee is studying the file. We have to wait for the regulation to be passed to make a legal challenge. It also requires a family that has been negatively affected by this regulation to challenge it.
B. We continue to explore our other avenues. Explaining some of our strategies publicly would diminish their effectiveness.
How to contribute, in 5 steps:
1. Comment on the draft rules by contacting Stéphanie Vachon, Secretary General: stephanie.vachon [at] education.gouv.qc.ca . Here are some ideas to communicate:
- Explain how this regulation would make it harder for you to educate your children.
- Be specific. Do you have a child with special challenges? Do you practice multi-age learning? Does your child have anxiety? Do you lack resources available in schools to follow the progression of learning or for your child to take exams?
2. Send an email to your MNA, call them, meet them! We want them to know us! Ask your loved ones to do it too.
To find your MNA, visit the National Assembly’ website. In the left column, in the keywords box, just enter your postal code.
What you can say (a summary of our arguments):
- Like the vast majority of homeschooling families, I strongly oppose the proposed regulation that would amend the homeschooling regulation;
- Following the implementation of the Homeschooling Education Act and Regulation in 2018, homeschooling families have done their part and worked hard to comply with the current regulation and to build a relationship of trust with the Direction de l’Enseignement à la Maison (DEM). Why is the government ignoring the Québec Ombudsman's recommendations for flexibility? Why did he not wait for the results of this transition year and consult with families before attempting to impose an even more restrictive procedure? The idea of making a new regulation and disrupting the lives of thousands of families for the second year in a row before we even get results from this first attempt should be re-evaluated.
- The proposed regulation attempts to impose the Quebec education program of study. There are many ways to achieve a quality education and there is no expert consensus on what are the best programs. Why impose a single vision of education and restrict parents’ ability to choose a personalized program to address the strengths and weaknesses of their children? The regulation could require we follow the program’s competencies, while allowing parents the freedom to choose the content that best suits their children’s needs.
- The draft regulation attempts to impose examinations. But experts, researchers, many schools who implement alternative programs, and the vast majority of parents who homeschool consider that portfolios are more effective in assessing a child's true progress. Why not allow parents to follow the best practices proposed by the Conseil Supérieure de l’Education? If the ministry wants the ability to more closely evaluate results, it could narrow the choices to two types of evaluations, the portfolio analysis by the Direction de l’Enseignement à la Maison or the ministry exams.
- If this regulation is adopted as it stands, it will have a negative impact on virtually all homeschooling families. According to a survey of AQED members, 99% of families would be affected by an obligation to follow the progression of learning. Almost all families think that ministry exams should be an individual choice for each child and having to spend a good part of the year preparing for exams that do not make sense to them would be harmful for their children’s learning.
It is important to personalize this message and explain how following the progression of learning (even per cycle instead of per year) and testing your children would hinder their learning using alternative approaches. Be specific - do you think your child will be unmotivated or more anxious? Would the necessary preparation time decrease the time you can spend teaching your children?
If you do not have the time to make a completely personalized letter, here is one that you can use as a model.
If your MNA responds to your letter and seems open-minded, continue the dialogue.
3. Make yourself seen and heard!
- Contact your local media to discuss the regulation and your reality.
- Organize demonstrations and participate in others’. For example, attend the following demonstrations organized by REDAQ and other organizations
4. Contact your school board to better understand the impact of this proposed regulation
- Ask what tools are used in schools to help children practice exams, and what support services are available for homeschoolers (resources, teacher manuals, classroom materials for children, etc.). For example, how often will families have access to teacher manuals?
- Ask what support would be available to reintegrate children into school because if children are to take the exams, your vision of home schooling may not be possible.
The goal is not necessarily to prepare to implement the regulation, but to find out how feasible it would be to comply in this context (lack of resources, etc.). This kind of information will allow you to better understand the impact of the regulation on your specific situation and you will be better able to communicate any issues to the minister. These questions will also help school boards better understand the burden placed on them to support all the families who are not ready for exams.
5. Keep yourself informed and let us know your perspective so we can represent you well.
- Subscribe to AQED’s Facebook page.
- Become a member of AQEDand encourage your friends to become one. Not only do we send more detailed information to our members, your membership in large numbers gives more moral weight to our actions with the Minister.