Saturday, February 07, 2009

Quebec skroos little children again

The UNESCO Convention/Recommendation against Discrimination in Education, of which Canada (federal government and provincial governments) are bound, states that in the absence of choice, the establishment or maintenance, for linguistic reasons, of separate educational systems or institutions is discriminatory by definition.

In Quebec, children of French-speaking parents are prohibited from attending English-language schools. English-speaking immigrant children (say, from the US or UK) are forced into French-language schools. The right to attend an English-language public school in Quebec is hereditary, passed from parents to their children.

Quebec is violating the UNESCO Convention/Recommendation against Discrimination in Education because it limits choice.

But being Quebec, the intelligentsia accepts this and doesn't make much fuss. Even the English-speaking community whose school population has atrophied in the last 30 years puts up with it. Occasionally, there are moments of clarity, when the full scope of the absurdity of Quebec restrictions are clear for all to see.

Such a moment happened last week when newspapers reported on an English-speaking Quebec kid who is being forced out of his English-language school, even though his parents were born in Canada and speak English as their first language. His anglophone mother went to French-language school in Quebec when she was a kid, an act which (ironically) has limited options for his son. But as long as the kid can prove his dad went to English-language school anywhere in Canada he'll be okay.

The kid's estranged father was raised in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. He was English-speaking. He went to English-language school his whole life. The grandmother has confirmed this seemingly obvious fact. But not all the records are available for the father. In one case, there was a fire and records were lost. In another, the school board destroys records once the former student is age 30. So, the kid cannot prove his dad went to English-language school in Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC.

Now that this case is in the media, perhaps an exception will be made. How many other stories like this go unreported?

It is 2009. Elsewhere in the universe, a black man was elected president of the United States, Iraq is holding free elections but in Quebec, it's the same old crappola.

'Bureaucratic b.s.' could force Montrealer from English school
By Brenda Branwell
Montreal Gazette
February 2, 2009

MONTREAL - An 11-year-old Montreal boy faces the prospect of being booted out of his English elementary school - all because of “bureaucratic b.s.” and one missing signature, his mother contends.

A Quebec government committee ruled that Kyle Wozniak, who turns 11 Tuesday, isn’t eligible to attend English school.

He started his education in French but in September, switched to Willingdon School in the Montreal community of Notre Dame de Grace.

The government committee explained its decision, citing a lack of proof that Kyle’s parents received the “major part” of primary education in English in Canada. It’s an eligibility requirement for English education under Quebec’s French Language Charter.

Wozniak, who went to French school, insists Kyle’s biological father did all his schooling in English.

But they’ve been estranged since Kyle was an infant and Wozniak says she hasn’t been able to reach him for an affidavit about the boy’s schooling.

With help from his mother Brenda Romanuck in Alberta, the English Montreal School Board nailed down some proof - Kyle’s father attended Grades 3 and 4 in English in Saskatoon as well as English high school.

But the search for records from two other elementary schools the father attended hit a dead end. The board learned there were no school records at a British Columbia school because of a fire in the 1970s. And a school in Stony Plain, Alta., destroys records once a former student reaches the age of 30.

“How much more proof do you need?” an agitated Wozniak said Monday. “Do you need a urine or a stool sample to prove that the guy is English?”

The government committee ruled that Kyle has to attend French school. The English Montreal School Board says it has been instructed by the Education Department to remove Kyle, a Grade 5 student, from their system.

“We hope somebody at the Ministry of Education who handles these cases will do justice by this child,” Angela Mancini, the board’s chair, said in a statement.

Reached Monday in St. Albert, Alta., Romanuck said her son did all his schooling in English. “Yes, absolutely,” she said. Romanuck said it seems no matter how much information they try to provide about her son’s schooling: “It’s just never enough.”

A spokesperson at the Education Department said they do not comment on individual cases for confidentiality reasons.

Wozniak said her son had difficulties in French school but is thriving in his English school. “I don’t care if they call the cops. They’re not going to pull my son out of that school,” she said.
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