Wednesday, August 26, 2009

now that was interesting

This morning, I called my friend Shannon to see if she was free today. I was hoping for a fun distraction for my boys (ie. her boys), a break from the "I don't have anything to doooooo's", and a chance to pick Shannon's brain about homeschool curriculum, since she homeschools her 5 and 7 year old boys.

Because it's official.

Liam will get to go to school in his pyjamas this year.

No sooner had I hung up with Shannon then the phone rang again. This time it was Miss L from the Western Quebec School Board. Seems she'd heard that we are planning to homeschool our son... huh? You see, last week when we were still exploring our options, I had left a message with the principal of the English school whose zone we would fall into (school 'C'). She finally returned my call yesterday, but in the four or five days that had elapsed, we'd made the decision to keep Liam at home this year. I told her as much over the phone, thanked her for returning my call, and said goodbye. 

Apparently she forwarded my name and number on to this Miss L person at the school board.

She tattled on me!

Miss L began by asking me if I was familiar with processes, rules and regulations of "applying to homeschool". I explained that I knew I would need to send a formal Letter of Intent to the local school and school board under which Liam was registered, but according to her that is merely the beginning. In addition to the Letter of Intent, we must also:
  • fill out a detailed application form that will be submitted to the Quebec Board of Education
  • chose a curriculum that has been approved by, and that meets all of the requirements of, the Minister of Education for Quebec OR submit our chosen curriculum for review and approval/rejection
  • meet with someone from the school board to explain our reasons for homeschooling
  • submit to periodic home visits or assessments by someone appointed by the school board
  • arrange for Liam to be brought in each spring for testing and evaluation, and a review of his portfolio
  • if our plan is to homeschool Liam in English, then we would be required to go into the English Language school (again, school 'C') to register him, then send our Letter of Intent to that school and their school board, and submit ourselves to their rules/regulations/policy regarding curriculum, approval, and evaluations
And if we do not submit to these rules and regulations? Miss L informed me that the school board would then call Child Protection Services.


Read that again.

They would call the same people you call for cases of abuse, abandonment, neglect, etc. FOR HOMESCHOOLING. Doesn't that seem more than a bit absurd? If nothing else, this bully of a lady with her thinly veiled threats, scare tactics, and her attempts to intimidate me into sending my child to public school would be enough to push me over the edge had we not already made our decision.

(In talking to some of our homeschooling friends (Did I mention that 6 out of 7 of our family friends homeschool?), it has become clear that the Government of Quebec is not too keen on homeschoolers. More accurately, the Ministry of Education is not keen on homeschoolers. And yet Quebec's education system is in crisis by all accounts. Did you know that Quebec has one of the highest drop out rates in Canada? Over the last decade, pressure has been mounting in Quebec for an overall review and reform of the publicly funded education system. The main concerns are the poor command of language (particularly written language) exhibited by graduates of the system, and the high drop-out rate -up to 40% for boys in some areas.)

What really bothers me is that this woman (and the educational system that she represents) seems to think it their right to educate my child. My child. Had we instead chosen to send Liam to either the local French school or the region's English language school, it would have still been our choice. NOT an obligation. CERTAINLY NOT a requirement governed by law. And yet they seem to equate "rules" and "regulations" and "policy" with laws. 

I'm not trying to get all worked up over this, but it completely boggles my mind.

Any person -educator, politician, policy-maker, even our family and friends, and my lovely blog readers *wink*- may disagree with our decision, but homeschooling is not only legal, but it is also protected under law. 
Real law.


  1. Stand your ground! I can't wait to hear all the details of how it is going with homeschooling. I'm not sure we will ever do it, but I dream about it from time to time. At the very least, I think parents are partners with the public schools and need to do a little teaching at home no matter what.

    I want to hear everything -- what system you choose, where it comes from, how you balance your day, how Liam likes it...all of it!

  2. I have my daughter in a private school and keep that to myself because I know many people think that I should fight for change within the system rather than pulling out of the system. Before I had a kid, I agreed with this logic. Now that it's *my* kid and not an abstract concept, I do what I believe is best for her for school and all of the other parts of her life. It seems that you are doing the same thing and that is threatening the "system" (however bad it might be). Fill in their forms - it'll help you work through the details of what you have in front of you - and roll your eyes at it. But then get busy with homeschooling, playing and living the life that you need to lead to find peace with your choices.

  3. omg. That's messed up! it's amazing that they'd make you jump through hoops like that. Is it just the province of Quebec?

  4. Don't sweat that woman's threats. You have made your decision and do what ever you need to do to support that decision. I am glad to hear you guys were able to come to a consensus on this. I know it will be an interesting experience. I can't wait to hear about it. My brothers girlfriend was home schooled (till grade 9) and she is very smart, well socialized and an all around lovely person.

  5. I understand why you are angry, but I agree with Mom on the Go. Fill in the forms. Do the paperwork. Do a great job with it. And then focus on your son.

    Just so that you are aware, this isn't an issue only with homeschooling. It is also an issue with private schools. It boggles my mind how much my son's school got hassled when they were starting up and how much they still get hassled about stupidities.

    There is bureaucracy everywhere. It is annoying, but unavoidable it seems. I got threatened with a court summons because the Quebec government didn't believe that my daughter existed and they thought I had been fraudulently collecting parental leave benefits. This is because I didn't know that I needed to send them a birth certificate (she was born in Ontario, but we live in Quebec). I had sent it to other Quebec government departments (e.g. to get a health card) and no one told me that I needed to send it to them as well. I guess I was just supposed to have that revelation come to me.

  6. Wow, that's completely overdone. I understand the legal need to ensure that the child's interests are being met, but the process seems so gestapo-like. I wish you luck! We don't homeschool, but I think it's incredible that you are able to. Best of luck! I look forward to reading about your adventures throughout the year...

  7. Wow. Just wow. That lady has issues! Child Protection Services for homeschooling? Bwah hahahahaha!

  8. I know you feel threatened, but think of it as they want what is best for your son too. They want to make sure he gets an education. Not everyone does get an education.

    I have family that homeschools. My niece is homeschooling so her mom can spend winters in Florida and summers in PA. In PA, my niece works at her mom's office. I'm not sure any schooling is going on. She is just cheap labor.

  9. @Lynn As for parents being partners with public schools, I totally agree. However, I decided that instead of doing a hour or more of homework with Liam each day, we'd just homeschool instead. An acquaintance here who is an elementary school teacher here in the public system said that what she accomplishes in six hours each day with her classroom full of kids can be accomplished at home in under two. The one-on-one tutorial type instruction is just that much more efficient.

    And have no fear, dear Lynn, I am sure to share (in greater detail than necessary) all of our HSing journey. *wink*

    @Mom on the Go I agree. If we have to follow some of their rules, then we will. One of the issues, however, is that many of the things she stated we mandatory are simply school board policies. They are not mandated by law. The law states that parents in Quebec have the choice of where to send their child to school... even if that school is home-based.

    @Andrea From what I know and have been reading, Quebec is especially bad. Whoopie!

    @Chantal You will hear lots about it! *grin*

    @Annie While we're not as surprised any more to hear that Quebec does things "differently", many things still make me scratch my head... signing my maiden name on everything?? Huh?

    Homeschoolers are not treated this way in every province. Not by a long shot! My cousin, who homeschools 6 of her 8 children received government money to the tune of over $600 PER CHILD per year. And here it's akin to child abuse. *rolls eyes*

    @spydergrrl Ha! Gestapo. Yeah, it's QC's own Secret Homeschool Police.

    @Sab It's looking more and more like the whole province has issues, and unfortunately that school board (that we may be under) is one of the worst. Joy.

    @GrandeMocha I'm not too sure about them wanting what's best for my son. I think there's a lot of politics -and as always money- involved. There is no one in this world who knows my son as well as I do and who loves him as much. Knowing his personality, character and learning style make me the most qualified person to teach him. How can an over-worked, under-paid teacher of twenty some other kids even come close to that?

  10. haha... they picked the wrong lady to mess with! Love and miss you all!

    _ Sara

  11. Well Amy,
    This is not an issue only about homeschooling, or private schooling. Do not feel threatened. These people do not know what a caring and nurturing Mom you are, but are looking out for the children who are so neglected ( and you probably did not even know of these families, but they are there). Fill out the paperwork and then Enjoy teaching Liam.

    We have a similar law in Wash. called the BECCA Law started (I think) when a child was missing and the parents had not notified the school. This child was abducted. That is why the schools are responsible to call and find out why the child is not there, once they have started Kindergarten and are registered in the district. Duane works for this department and goes to the homes of places, we as teachers always hoped were not happening. They are looking out for children who need help. Do not worry--just fill out the papers and you will be able to see what a good job you, Peter and Liam are doing, when you compare with all the regulations. Enjoy!!!!!!!! Love ya, A. Dianne

  12. is it just me or is anyone else picturing this tyrannical "miss L" as dolores umbridge from HP5? she has pink tweed written ALL over her!

  13. Oh man, that sounds awful. I wish people could see both sides of the equation no matter which side of the fence you are on. She clearly needs to remember that her way isn't always the best way.

  14. I can see why the district is concerned, if parents don't care about their child's schooling (and as a teacher, I know that happens more than you'd think), they could just be "homeschooling" as a way to get funding. The district can't be expected to know which parents are responsible and which aren't, and probably expect the worst. I hope the rest of your homeschooling experience gets better.

    If you are worried about the expense of resources, textbooks, etc., the McGraw-Hill website has options for some texts where you can get a free copy for evaluation purposes. Also, some schools have extra copies of texts or older copies for reference available for loan, and don't have a problem with lending them out. Try your local library as well, they may have materials you can use. Another source might be retired teachers.

  15. @Sara You know it! *wink*

    @Aunt Dianne Yes, Peter agrees with you. I agree that of course there need to be rules and regulations. It's the bullying and scare tactics that I take issue with. And this sense of entitlement that they seem to have in regards to my child.

    @Lyn Umbridge all the way. Related: You're a geek.

    @Kami Not only that, but to chill the heck out! I don't know, maybe she's been jaded by seeing all the "worst" homeschooling cases, but I still think her attitude was out of line.

    @Amy In QC, no one homeschools to get funding... as we get NONE. NADA. ZIP. Not even a tax right off as far as I know. It's a FAR CRY from the money the AB government offers HSing parents, eh?

  16. Hey Amy, I just read this post (not sure if you follow this blog). The comments may be interesting to you:


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