Quebec's parents have lost the freedom to choose religious education
OPINION SECTION, by JOHN CARPAY, The Globe and Mail, Canada's largest national daily newspaper, May 11, 2009
At a trial that starts today in Drummondville, Quebec's Superior Court will be asked to decide who has ultimate authority over the education of children: their parents or the state.
Last September, Quebec's new "Ethics and Religious Culture" (ERC) course became mandatory for all elementary and secondary schools in the province, including private Catholic, Jewish and Evangelical schools.
The provincial Education Ministry has steadfastly insisted that no child or school may be exempted from the new course, even if a school offers to teach the same contents as the ERC course but present the contents in a different manner.
Before the ERC course became mandatory, Quebec's parents could choose to enroll their children in Catholic, Protestant, or non-religious moral instruction. In spite of record-low church attendance in Quebec, most parents chose Catholic or Protestant religious instruction for their children, with only a minority opting for non-religious moral education.
Having lost their freedom of choice, parents are now going to court to assert their freedom of religion and conscience, protected by both the Canadian and Quebec charters. Parents also point to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the prior right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. These parents object to a course which, in their view, denigrates and trivializes religions by portraying all of them as mere folklore.
Parents challenging the ERC course also disagree with the very young age at which students are introduced to a multitude of faiths; they want their children to learn about other religions after they have acquired a deep and comprehensive knowledge of their own. More..
Quebec's creepy new curriculum
The National Post ( Canada's 2nd largest national daily newspaper), By Barbara Kay, December 17, 2008
An often-quoted Jesuit maxim boasts, "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man."
Only seven? Amateurs! Since September all Quebec students from primary school entry to high school graduation, whether enrolled in public or non-funded private schools, must attend Quebec's new Ethics and Religious Culture course (ERC). And teachers, regardless of their beliefs, must teach it.
Jonathan Gagne, a courageous teenager at the Joseph-Hermas-Leclerc secondary school in Granby, Que., has just been suspended, and will likely be expelled, for boycotting ERC. He is a hero to thousands of angry, mainly Catholic, Quebecers who consider compulsory submission to ERC a violation of their human rights.
The ERC curricula are mandated to introduce students to Quebec's rich diversity of religious tenets and "facilitate the spiritual development of students so as to promote self-fulfillment." Since when does the state "facilitate" spiritual self-fulfillment? To parents who take religion seriously, this is a chilling intrusion into what all democratically inspired charters of rights designate as a parental realm of authority. More..
Unfair punishment for dropouts
CAROL GOAR, Aug. 23, 2006
One of the threads Liberal leadership contender Gerard Kennedy left dangling when he stepped down as Ontario education minister was a bill depriving anyone who quits school before 18 of the right to hold a driver's licence.
It would have been best to let it drop. The measure is clumsy, coercive and unduly harsh on rural teens.
But Kennedy's replacement, Sandra Pupatello, is determined to tie up loose ends. After four days' debate this spring, she whisked the bill off to a legislative committee for line-by-line scrutiny. "We are hoping to see it approved as soon as possible," said a ministerial aide. "This is a priority for this government."
The committee, chaired by government backbencher Bob Delaney of Mississauga West, isn't likely to provide much resistance. Eight of its 11 members are Liberals. Only two (both Conservatives) represent rural ridings.
There is still one chance albeit a slim one to halt this rush to punish. More ..
A study in First Nations 101
With as many as 10,000 native kids in Toronto, the public board is boosting heritage awareness
The push brings fresh insight into a group seen as the `invisible' visible minority, Louise Brown writes
The Toronto Star, by LOUISE BROWN, EDUCATION REPORTER, June 20, 2006 page A3
The Grade 2 children at Humewood Community School are thrilled to be smoking in class.
Not puffing on cigarettes, but breathing wafts of burning sage in an aboriginal ceremony the school is holding to help students better understand their native classmates.
As Humewood mother Joanne Vautour, who is part Ojibwa and part French, circles the room with the small dish of sage for this traditional "smudge" ceremony designed to clear away negative thoughts, child after child reaches into the smoke and waves it over their face and body. [full story]
Standardized education tests get a star
Prof touts their precise analysis of student needs
Parents, educators urged to get over score phobia
LOUISE BROWN, EDUCATION REPORTER, Oct. 19, 2005
They've been blasted by teachers, boycotted by kids and brandished by real estate agents trying to rank neighbourhoods by school.
But eight years after standardized tests hit Ontario, there is mounting proof the scores including the latest batch due today are providing schools with a power tool to pinpoint how to help children learn, says Premier Dalton McGuinty's special adviser on education. More ..
As a Quebec town tries to rein in its restless youth with a controversial curfew, Christian broadcaster LORNA DUECK sees a lesson for all Canadian parents
The Globe and Mail, By LORNA DUECK, Thursday, August 5, 2004 - Page A15
By Glenn Sacks. This column appeared in the Washington Times (9/12/04), the Albuquerque Journal (9/10/04), and the Omaha World-Herald (9/4/04).
We received the notices for my son's and daughter's school in the mail yesterday. My soon-to-be-first grade daughter jumped up and down, wanting to know who her new teacher will be, what room she will be in, and "when do we get to start?" My middle school son examined his letter, and optimistically noted, "the first week is mostly minimum days, except for a Friday, but that's almost the weekend, when there's no school. So the week will go by quickly."
'Go grrrl curriculum': Emphasis would be on studies, not boys, at all-girls' school
NATIONAL POST, By Heather Sokoloff, February 12, 2002
Boys have been painted as the bad guys in the push to encourage girls to succeed, leaving many young men feeling confused and alienated, wondering what they did wrong
National Post, By Donna Laframboise, January 5th,1999
Nearly three-quarters of students failed to meet provincial standards; minister blames 'system' for poor results
FROM Canadian Press, Toronto Star and various other newspapers, November 25, 2004
Ontario is revising its Grade 9 applied math curriculum after nearly three-quarters of students failed to meet provincial standards, the education minister said today as he blamed the system for dismal results.
Gerard Kennedy said theres no justification for about 37,000 applied math students to fail and said the program will change by the next school year.
This is not a true reflection of the potential that these students have, Kennedy said of the roughly 50,000 teens in the stream. More ..