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.