Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day Care Kids or College Kids: Who Should We Alienate?

The Parti Quebecois is now considering what to propose: extending Bill 101 to Day Care or to CEGEP.  Bill 101 is the law that compels children of Francophone parents to go to French public schools, children of Anglophone parents to go English public schools, and immigrants to go to French public schools.*  Or parents can send their kids to private schools of whatever language.  This issue has heated up as the Canadian Supreme Court just killed Bill 104 which was an attempt to get rid of a loophole that allowed kids to go private school in English for a period of time and then be eligible for the English Public schools (this bill was passed after I accepted the McGill job but before we arrived). 

The justification for all of this is to save French and encourage immigrants to assimilate into Quebec (and possibly make them more favorable towards separatism?).  This, along with symbolic politics and intra-party outbidding/posturing, has led to the next step: where to go from here?  The PQ is now considering advocating Bill 101 to be extended.
  • If it is applied to publicly subsidized day care, then kids of Francophones and of immigrants would have to go to French day care, and English kids would presumably have to go to English day care.  Of course, it is not so clear that the day care places are so easily divided into categories.
  • CEGEPs are the alternative focus.  These are entirely free schools that bridge high school and university (high school here ends after 11th grade) for two years--a cross between  junior colleges, prep schools, and vocational schools (I think).  There are some English ones and more than a few French ones.  As it stands, immigrants tend to go to English CEGEPs and there are more than a few French folks who go to them as well, hoping to improve their English so that they can go to McGill, Concordia, Bishops (all English universities in Quebec) or outside Quebec to the rest of Canada or the US or some place else.  
Neither one really makes much sense as a target of Bill 101.  The day cares are not neatly separated nor is it clear that immersion into French a year or two earlier would really "save" French (particularly as it is not really endangered). 
Extending to CEGEP would have a variety of bad effects, including:
  • continuing the segregation of the French and English speaking folks of Canada, whereas they serve now as a place for the two to meet.
  • reducing the competitiveness of Francophones in the world economy since the education in English in the French public school system is notoriously lousy and the English CEGEPs have served as an important means for catching up.
  • further alienating immigrants who would  prefer not to be the subject of nationalist agendas.
 It is unlikely that these possible policies will be enacted in the near future, but they do a nice job of distracting us from the fact that all of the parties in Quebec are tied to corruption in one way or another.

1 comment:

Francois Caron said...

...( and possibly make them more favorable towards separatism?)
At least to make them read more other opinion, instead? Let people think first, by reading more facts.

They are going to solve the issue by having the CEGEP being the same - by having them simply bilingual for most educational program that would make sense to apply. Progressively, always.

The more other than francophone master french language, the more Québec and Montréal would keep them - just by the fact that they would not be afraid to accept a job in Québec city for instance - Yep, there are jobs there asking to master english, a lot more than you'd think. We need them to bridge more (easily) with the rest of the world.

Full-bilingualist is the key, mix the sauce and it will be better!