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Group launches campaign in Montreal to reform Quebec's public schools

The Gazette logo The Gazette 4 days ago Kelsey Litwin, Montreal Gazette
061817-no_object-235560811-0619_city_ecole_ensemble-W.jpg © Kelsey Litwin 061817-no_object-235560811-0619_city_ecole_ensemble-W.jpg

The group Mouvement L’école ensemble launched a campaign in Montreal on Sunday calling for an end to public funding of private schools and separate selective specialized classes in public schools.

The group, headed by Stéphane Vigneault, says those two factors contribute to “educational segregation” where top students are separated from the rest, which Vigneault argues leads to Quebec’s elevated high-school failure and dropout rates.

“We can say we leave parents the choice (between public and private schools). But is it a choice?” Vigneault asked in French during a press conference. 

Anne-Marie Boucher, a high-school teacher and mother at the press conference to show her support for the group, said she has noticed trends associated with educational segregation. She said she has witnessed a difference in how her colleagues talk about students in enriched programs compared with those in the general public school system. This attitude, she said, transfers over to the type of work they assign to students and how much they expect of them. 

“The solution can’t be individual,” Vigneault said. “It must be collective, therefore political.” 

That’s why Mouvement L’école ensemble is pushing to have public school funding as a campaign point for all political parties in the city’s municipal election in October.

With the campaign, Mouvement L’école ensemble is collecting signatures on a petition (www.ecoleensemble.com) calling for systematic reform. They are also seeking donations to fund research looking at educational segregation. The group’s ultimate goals include: 

• A sustainable school system supported by 100 per cent of public money budgeted for education.

• An end of selective special programs for students in the public school system.

• The reincorporation of students attending private school and enriched programs into the regular system.

• A school system that includes enriched learning and additional help for struggling students within the public model to avoid the separation of students.  

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