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In this section, you will find excerpts from our “Communiqués”, ACPEQ’s quarterly publication sent to its members.
AQED/QAHBE’s « Guide de la bonne entente »
The QAHBE/AQED « Guide » is still in circulation and at least two school boards are using it as a reference. HSLDA has been called to intervene during the course of the year for families who were uncomfortable with what the school boards wished to impose on them following the distribution of this “Guide”. ACPEQ maintains its position and is not in agreement with this document.
AQED/QAHBE’s « Guide de la bonne entente »
The « Guide » was adopted by about 40 QAHBE/AQED members on Sunday, April 29, 2007 after a vote where only 50 members were present… We do not know if this association will send the document out to school boards or to the ministry. As for our letter expressing our concerns over the document, no reply has yet been received.
A number of you are questionning the « Guide de la bonne entente » recently produced by the Association québécoise pour l’éducation à domicile/Québec Association for Home-Based Education (AQED/QAHBE), for eventual distribution to school boards and the MELS. A certain number of AQED/QAHBE members (sometimes also ACPEQ and/or HSLDA members) have expressed their concerns about the contents of this «Guide» to the AQED/QAHBE Board of Directors. At this time, AQED/QAHBE has suspended their procedures until their general assembly to be held in April. ACPEQ has been approached about this situation. We have therefore reproduced below the questions frequently brought up with regards to this, as well as the answers we have already provided to some of you, so that this information is available to all of our members.
1 – What does ACPEQ think about this « Guide »?
We cannot endorse the « Guide ». It actually includes the main points elaborated in the chart sent to our members with last Fall’s Communiqué. This chart takes the six major points of AQED’s position on the interpretation and application of the law with regards to homeschooling and explains why we cannot agree with their interpretation.
2 – Can the « Guide » affect all homeschooling parents in Québec?
It is important to know that the homeschool association representing the greatest number of Québec families is HSLDA! As of March 2007, HSLDA had 454 active Québec members. ACPEQ’s database indicates that a certain number of our members are not HSLDA members. If we add this number to 454, together, HSLDA and ACPEQ represent more than 500 families in Québec. With HSLDA, we will ensure that the distinction be made at the MELS: ACPEQ and HSLDA do not endorse this “Guide”.
3 – Why did ACPEQ «break the common front » with AQED/QAHBE in the joint representation at the MELS and is it true that AQED/QAHBE was not advised of such?
Through the attorney retained by ACPEQ for purposes of representation, we (ACPEQ and AQED/QAHBE) were unable to agree over issues which, for us (ACPEQ) were important. Also, the ongoing discussions, always through our attorney who acted as mediator between the two associations, seemed to be without end. During this time, the MELS was expecting our attorney (on behalf of both associations) to provide them with a letter – at the most two pages – summarizing our common position. A number of times, the document forwarded to us by our attorney for approval was getting lengthier. Also, it was constantly sent with major points we could not endorse, such as: “Our common objective is that parents come out from being incognito…”, as well as the evaluation of curriculum. For more information with regards to the interpretation of Article 15(4) and “evaluation”, we refer you once again to the chart sent with our Fall Communiqué, as well as an excellent article written by Paul Faris (HSLDA attorney) published in the Winter 2006 issue of the Court Report & Communiqué.
We therefore thanked our attorney for his services in a letter dated November 2005, clearly explaining how AQED/QAHBE’s claims were against our members’ interests. Since our attorney had done mediation between the two associations since we (ACPEQ) had granted him a joint mandate, it seemed obvious to us that he would share the contents of that letter with the AQED/QAHBE Board of Directors.
4 – What exactly is your position regarding « evaluation »?
One evaluation per year is enough: at the end of the school year, to show that the child has made progress. Here, we are not referring to academic performance or an obligation of results. ACPEQ intervened on this aspect at our last meeting at the MELS with AQED/QAHBE, and the MELS representatives agreed with ACPEQ: they do not require obligation of results or performance, but an overview of the child’s progress over the course of the school year.
5 – Are the ministerial orientations dangerous?
To be realistic, we expected the contents of the document presented to us by the MELS in 2004. When the second version of these orientations were produced (meeting between ACPEQ/AQED and MELS), we witnessed their efforts in making their requirements a bit more flexible in order to grant parents a certain latitude. However, we also recognize that its contents leave much room for the intervention of school authorities in the lives of homeschooling families. Very recently, the MELS representatives reassured us that they will contact us (ACPEQ/HSDLA) before any official distribution of documents to school boards. Rest assured that this is not a bill to change the law. In a worst case scenario, HSLDA will continue its work on a case by case basis, as they are doing at the present time.
6 – What presentation did ACPEQ provide the MELS with?
Since the end of our joint effort with AQED/QAHBE in the Fall of 2005, we have continued representation in collaboration with HSLDA. The last meeting at the MELS was in November 2005. We were represented by Paul Faris, HSDLA attorney, as well as Michel and Carole Cardinal from the ACPEQ Board. Here are the topics discussed at this meeting:
Where it is strictly a question of administrative agreements between parent-educators and school officials, YPS involvement should be discontinued.
Families should have the latitude to homeschool with the curriculum of their choice. This should have an effect on the testing environment since options for evaluation must not discriminate against families who decide to teach their children according to different approaches and curricula. Here are the evaluation options we propose:
a) presentation of child’s portfolio, that is, a sampling of academic work and activities, which are representative of the child’s progress;
b) presentation of evaluations administered by the parents;
c) presentation of evaluations administered by a third party;
d) participation in exams administered by the school board;
e) any other means agreed to between parents and school board.
Our meeting did not last long but we believe it was effective. According to information provided to ACPEQ by the MELS, the homeschooling issue has been suspended because of the upcoming elections. We will continue to be vigilant and will be keeping you informed.
In conclusion with regards to the « Guide de la bonne entente », we have approached AQED with one last intervention in the hopes of eliminating any confusion about the impact of this “Guide” if it were to be distributed, by sending them a letter in March 2007. The original letter is in french, click here. To date, no reply to this letter has been received.
Differences of Opinion
ACPEQ and AQED/QAHBE’s (Québec Association for Home-Based Education) joint efforts with the Ministry of Education in order to come to an acceptable procedure that would satisfy the legal requirement for evaluation of home-educated children, were interrupted over a year ago. Some of our members contacted us for more information about this situation. Therefore, we have reproduced AQED/QAHBE’s position, which was posted on their website this fall. Initially, the text was three pages long in reply to a journalist. We have selected the appropriate excerpt on the left side of the chart below. ACPEQ’s comments appear on the right. These notes explain, to a certain extent, why we had to interrupt our joint intervention with the MELS in November 2005. AQED/QAHBE further elaborated on their position in a draft document of 184 articles presented to their members at a meeting this past fall.
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[av_row row_style=’avia-heading-row’][av_cell col_style=’avia-highlight-col’]AQED – Text(translation by ACPEQ) Posted : 09 Oct, 2006 – 15:43[/av_cell][av_cell col_style= »]ACPEQ – Notes[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style= »][av_cell col_style=’avia-highlight-col’] (…) Here is a procedure that we consider to be reasonable.1- The parents advise the school board that their child is filing for exemption as per Article 15(4), including relevant information such as date of birth, address, etc.[/av_cell][av_cell col_style= »]The child’s birth date, where confirmed by the presentation of a birth certificate, gives the school board the information needed to obtain a perma-nent code. Many parents do not want their children officially integrated into the school system, at least not until they attend an official establishment.[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style= »][av_cell col_style=’avia-highlight-col’]2- The parents provide an overview of the educational program followed (curriculum) and nomenclature of materials used (most parents follow the MELS curriculum) so that the school board may evaluate equivalency. (sports, music or religious program, etc.)[/av_cell][av_cell col_style= »]According to a compilation done in the fall of 2005, ACPEQ and HSLDA together represented at least 500 different families in Québec, of which the majority, in all likelihood, were not following the MELS curriculum. [/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style= »][av_cell col_style=’avia-highlight-col’]3- The school board confirms equivalency or requests changes be made so the curriculum meets this requirement. [/av_cell][av_cell col_style= »]This gives the school board the right to require that we change our curriculum according to theirs, and not necessarily in the basic subject areas only.[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style= »][av_cell col_style=’avia-highlight-col’]4- During the year or at the end of the year, the school board and the parents, with the child, meet together with the school work that has been accomplished, parents’ evaluations, achievement, etc. The goal here is not to evaluate the child’s results, but for veri-fication if indeed instruc-tion and a learning experience have been provided. [/av_cell][av_cell col_style= »]“During the year or at the end of the year…” How many times exactly? Also, although the word “verification” is used, it actually refers to a second evaluation. To “verify”, the school board will have to judge or evaluate what the child has learned, or the results of the instruction and educational experience provided.[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style= »][av_cell col_style=’avia-highlight-col’]5- If the school board has serious doubts that the parents are indeed providing an education because school work shows weaknesses in quantity or in quality, the child may be asked to pass sommative exams.
[/av_cell][av_cell col_style= »]Therefore, we have:
Evaluation of curriculum at the beginning of the school year (point #2) ;
“Verification” (read “evaluation”) – possibly more than once a year (point # 4);
Exams at the end of the year if we do not meet the school board’s criteria (point #5).
We thus have two evaluation situations or more.[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style= »][av_cell col_style=’avia-highlight-col’]6- If the parents ignore the school board, or if the school board considers that the development of the child may be compromised, the school board will file a report with Youth Protection Services.[/av_cell][av_cell col_style= »]This is what has already been going on for a number of years now. Furthermore, the school board may decide that the development of a child is compromised simply because the instruction and educational experience provided are not in conformity with what is provided in public school.[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style= »][av_cell col_style=’avia-highlight-col’]This is our association’s proposal, based on law, and on a pragmatic approach of parental rights and children’s rights. We hope that this position, forwarded to the Minister, will reconcile both parties, my dearest wish being to see the vast majority of parents notify their school board and to have school boards do the real work the legislator has entrusted them with in the respect of choices granted by law and the charter. (…)[/av_cell][av_cell col_style= »]ACPEQ’s « dearest wish » is that State intervention be kept to a minimum where parent-educators have decided to assume full responsibility for their children’s education, instead of delegating it to the government, and that an agreement acceptable to the vast majority of families be reached, in light of the present legal requirement with regards to evaluation.[/av_cell][/av_row]
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Interpretation of Article 15(4), Education Act
A question has been raised a few times in the past year by some of our members: « According to Article 15(4) of the Education Act, what is subject to evaluation for homeschooled children?” In reading this article of law, it is true that the object of evaluation can be open to interpretation:
15. The following students are exempt from compulsory school attendance:
(4) a student who receives homeschooling and benefits from an educational experience which, according to an evaluation made by or for the school board, are equivalent to what is provided at school.
One interpretation asserts that the evaluation pertains to the methods utilized for the chidren’s education. Consequently, a homeschooling family showing that they are following the MEQ Program of study, and using MEQ approved educational materials, would automatically “pass the test” with regards to evaluation of their homeschool and educational experience, since these would then be judged equivalent to what is provided in school.
This interpretation is rather inviting since it avoids having to demonstrate that children are showing any progress in the acquisition of knowledge, skills, etc. However, in reality, school administrators always seek to verify the results of the instruction provided, be it by their own evaluations, or by those provided by the parents.
This leads us to another interpretation which maintains that the actual learning done by the children is to be evaluated. It is therefore the results of the instruction provided which will vouch for whether the instruction is efficient. All this being said, we do not advocate “academic performance” for children at all costs but rather, progress in their school work, according to the pace and needs of each individual child. According to HSLDA, this last interpretation is the one to be retained, since the other would simply not be defendable in court:
Utilizing government approved curriculum and resources does not necessarily guarantee that a good education is being provided. Furthermore, the first interpretation could deprive families of any latitude with regards to the choice of educational approaches and materials.