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May 2016

Conflict in Quebec: Who knows best how to educate a child?

By Barbara Postma

Education: Who knows best?

An eleven-year old girl is thriving in her homeschool environment. Her father is giving her the individualized education she needs and deserves. It is the academic path that this girl’s parents decided upon and chose for her. Why, then, should there be a conflict of how best to teach this child?

When this young lady was preschool-aged, her mother was taken from her in a fatal car accident. Before her passing, she and her husband had discussed either homeschooling their only daughter, or enrolling her in a local alternative school. When that school was closed by the Ministry of Education, this father made the choice to live on less income and to shoulder the burden of single parenting and homeschooling.

Despite the successes that they are experiencing at home, this young student and her father have fallen under intense scrutiny from their local school and school board. They are putting pressure on this family to do “public school at home.” Social services, also, are insisting that they abide by school policy at home, and they refuse to admit or to recognize the quality of education that is happening at home. Evidence and supporting documents provided through an evaluation done by a certified teacher show that this young lady is doing extremely well under the individualized, specific instruction of her father. Still, despite this, there is now a court battle underway over how this young lady ought to be educated.

Thankfully, this family chose to become members of HSLDA Canada, our country’s national homeschool association.

National Home Education Associations

One of the many benefits of having a national homeschool organization is the protection and expertise offered to homeschool families.  Using HSLDA Canada’s experience as an example, here is one model of what it looks like to operate a national homeschool organization.

Membership means that families pay annual membership fees to HSLDA Canada, a non-profit legal organization. Because of their ongoing membership, the financial resources for legal defence are available to their family at no additional charge. The annual fees of all of the members combine to provide HSLDA Canada with the resources to be an advocate in the political realm for the homeschool movement as a whole and for individual families specifically as needs arise. The legal counsel at HSLDA Canada manages the case for the family, advising them how to respond and intervening on their behalf.

Impact in Quebec

HSLDA Canada’s Quebec office has been a consistent presence in this ordeal, communicating with both the family and with the school board and social services, trying to arrive at the decision that is best for this young student. However, with two court settlement dates behind them, and neither arriving at a satisfactory conclusion to this point, the battle would appear to be only beginning.

What homeschooling families need to understand is this: in our case, while homeschooling is legal across our country, there is a continual need for advocacy.  Having a national homeschool organization means that there is someone continually monitoring the political and social climate surrounding education, province-to-province, so that no decisions, policies, or changes are made that may negatively impact homeschooling. On a general level, HSLDA Canada is providing a measure of protection for the homeschooling movement at large. Specifically, members of the national homeschool association, like this family in Quebec, have the security of knowing that they have legal support and representation as well. For example, the Quebec office has been involved with school boards and social service workers across the province for years now, and so have proven themselves to be a voice and strong advocate for this family. This dad and his daughter know that, in the staff of the HSLDA Canada Quebec office, they have experience and resolve in their corner fighting for them.

Barbara Postma is Staff Editor and Copy Writer at HSLDA Canada.

 Other Resources

Learn more by visiting HSLDA Canada’s website.