Posted at 1:00 PM
The Federation of Private Educational Institutions recognizes the relevance of collective thinking and exploring different strategies to increase equal opportunity in education.
However, it should be noted from the outset that certain statements made by the collective École ensemble are incorrect. Quebec is not the most unequal province in terms of education, as a study by UQAM’s Human Capital Research Group clearly showed in 2021. Nor is it the province where the highest percentage of students attend private school (this is British Columbia, according to Statistics Canada). But these details aside, École ensemble has the credit for putting forward a bold proposal that contains interesting schools of thought.
Private schools have set themselves the goal for the past 15 years to make more room for students with learning difficulties. Today, 22% of students attending mainstream private schools have an intervention plan after being diagnosed with disabilities, learning disabilities or adaptation. These students succeed in our schools and are happy there. We welcome any discussion to do more.
The Federation supports the idea of offering special programs or concentrations to all students, including those who are struggling. Most private high schools have already adopted this formula, and the results are compelling.
We see that access to different programs and different options supports the motivation and sense of home of these students, without harming their study results. We are happy to share the different models that have been put in place to support this approach.
In addition to these efforts, several initiatives have been taken to develop educational differentiation so that each student receives the support and stimulation they need to succeed and thrive. The private school stands out for innovation in education and contributes to the improvement of our education system. In addition, many of our teachers share their expertise at various educational conferences and summits, benefiting all schools in Quebec.
The Federation also believes that it is relevant to consider solutions so that tuition fees do not hinder young people from disadvantaged backgrounds from attending the school or program of their choice. Currently, about 7,000 young people receive financial support to attend private schools. Despite the enormous efforts of the school teams and the foundations, we are well aware that this remains insufficient from the perspective of equal opportunities.
Furthermore, the Federation thinks it’s a bad idea to assign a school to a student based on their zip code, rather than based on their needs and areas of interest.
Some students benefit from a small school where everyone knows each other, while others thrive in a large school with a wide choice of options or activities. Some need more coaching, while others need more autonomy to persevere. Some families face significant work-life balance constraints and need access to schedules and services adapted to their realities.
We firmly believe that offering a choice of school to Quebec families is an asset to our children’s success and perseverance. In short, the same school for all may not be the right school for many.
We should quickly mention that the economic analysis presented by École ensemble underestimates many costs associated with its plan. For example, it’s inconceivable that 50% of parents who send their child to private school can continue to do so if the cost is $11,000 a year, which is the real cost of educating a student. In addition, the analysis does not take into account the costs associated with private school buildings, which in some cases are heritage buildings that require a lot of work. Far from saving, this plan would entail significant costs for the state. Could these funds not be better invested in supporting students in difficulty and people from disadvantaged backgrounds?
But money issues aside, the big losers would be Quebec families who would no longer have the ability to choose the school that best suits their children’s needs. Both the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights protect this fundamental right. Let’s make this right more accessible to everyone, instead of limiting it.