mercredi 7 mars 2012

Leger-Marketing Poll: Quebecers want school vouchers and ERC optional or scrapped

We received this Press Release from the CLE.

A recent Leger-Marketing poll conducted for the Coalition for Freedom in Education (CLE) shows that 55% of Quebecers favour the introduction of school vouchers by which the government allocates a fixed amount of money for the education of each child and then lets the parents choose the school they prefer be it private or public. The Coalition supports this mechanism which gives parents more educational choice independently of their income.

More than three years after the Québec government imposed the Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) as a compulsory program in Québec schools, only four out of ten Quebecers want the ERC course to remain compulsory. The majority of Quebeckers oppose the compulsory nature of ERC: a quarter of them would prefer it to become optional while another 29% would scrap it altogether and replace it with a course like French or Mathematics. This desire to return to basics is probably not altogether unrelated with the sharp decline in skills observed in the latest Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP-2010) which indicated that pupils in Québec have experienced sharp declines in reading skills (from the 1st place to the 7th spot) and in science (dropping from the second to last place).

According to the president of the Coalition for Freedom in Education, Sylvain Lamontagne, “these results show clearly that there is no consensus around the compulsory nature of the ERC program and that a majority of Quebecers want more freedom in education. Why does a government that prides itself in imposing this one-size-fits-all program in the name of diversity show no more respect for parents and their diversity?”

Over half of Quebecers (54%) think schools should have greater freedom in choosing the curriculum they teach and in how to teach it. For Patrick Andries, secretary of the CLE, “Québec parents are in line with results published by international bodies like the OECD that identify teaching freedom as an essential component to a quality education.” One should not only stress the administrative autonomy of schools and the evaluation of teachers. Indeed as the OECD states, “[i]n countries where schools have greater autonomy over what is taught and how students are assessed, students tend to perform better.1” For the Coalition, granting additional freedom in what schools teach and how they teach it will better meet the future needs of Québec, while at the same time better respect the rights of parents.

The survey was conducted from February 27 to 29 2012 by Leger Marketing. The sample size was 1,001 people over 18 years from all regions of Quebec. The weighted sample chosen has a margin of error of ± 3.1% in 19 out of 20 cases.

[1] “School autonomy and accountability: Are they related to student performance?”, OECD, October 2011.

See also

Professor Douglas Farrow's "On the Ethics and Religious Culture Program" Report as Expert Witness in the Loyola High School vs. Ministry of Education court case.