In fall of 2017, the Education Act established new guidelines for homeschooling families. These guidelines, which were still general, already suggested that there would be both more recognition of the right to freedom of education and more accountability to government authorities. Most parents hoped above all for more fairness in the treatment they received. Conflicts between homeschooling families and many school boards are all too familiar, and these situations have led parents to distrust any form of control that could conceal an intention to make them give up their educational freedom.
The collaboration between the Minister, the Department and AQED, from the very beginning of this process, has led to a better understanding on both sides of the issues affecting this dossier. We appreciate being consulted early in this process of change to the law and being invited to participate in the Parliamentary Commission and the National Roundtable on homeschooling. Continuously listening to families’ concerns is an important factor in ensuring their eventual acceptance of these regulations.
In this regard, the recognition that parents have the right to choose their educational approach and that the objectives do not have to conform to the Progression of Learning of the Quebec program is a great step forward. The government’s offer to provide support instead of coercion when difficulties arise is a very good idea.
However, despite this spirit of collaboration, with the assent of Bill 144 Quebec becomes one of the Canadian provinces that has the most control over homeschooling families who do not seek government services or funding. Ontario and British Columbia do not require any default follow-up for homeschooling families. Only cases that are reported are investigated by school authorities.
In addition, several elements of the regulation adopted in June 2018 remain difficult for many families to accept. Concerns such as delays, fear of prejudice, the amount of work required to satisfy the Minister's representative, etc. were raised by many homeschooling families. It is worth remembering as well that the absence of documentation is not the same as the absence of education. Finally, the time parents have to spend on administrative tasks deprives children of valuable learning time with their parents. It is therefore important that homeschooling families in Quebec maintain a strong front so that the implementation of this legislation does not create a greater burden for families than the minimum required by law.
Photo credit: Céline Petsilas