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

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The group Mouvement L’école ensemble launched their Montreal campaign Sunday. The group, headed by Stéphane Vigneault, wants to see an end to public funding of private schools and separate selective specialized classes in public schools. They say these two factors contribute to “educational segregation” where top students are separated from the rest, which Vigneault argues leads to Quebec’s elevated high school fail and drop out rates.

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

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

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

That’s why they’re pushing to have public school funding as a campaign point for all political parties in the city’s upcoming municipal election in October.

Vigneault said he had a chance to speak with Quebec Education, Recreation and Sports Minister Sébastien Proulx, although not specifically about the Mouvement. He said the minister sympathized with the issues they would like to tackle. He also said that he’s been in touch with other elected officials, but declined to provide further detail. He did say, however, that he is optimistic. The minister could not be reached by press time. 

With this campaign, Mouvement L’école ensemble would like to collect signatures on their petition calling a systematic reform, as well as collect 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 which includes enriched learning and additional help from struggling students within the public model to avoid the separation of students.  

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