By Jim Wilson | Published Sept 10, 2015 by The Montreal Gazette
Re: “Public education matters to all of us” (Celine Cooper, Sept. 8)
One would think the headline would produce little argument. Yet, in her column, Celine Cooper unwittingly reveals the inaccuracy of that remark. When referring to the “abysmal high school dropout rates and levels of illiteracy” she notes that “parents who can afford private schools jump ship.”
Dropout rates must be qualified; the private schools’ exceedingly high graduation rates contrast sharply with those of the French public system. In fairness, the public English system does not mirror its French public counterparts.
At this time, the number of students attending French private schools exceeds the number going to the entire English sector. Cooper’s point that “all Quebecers deserve a quality education regardless of how much their parents make,” should be true, but that is not the case.
And why not? French private school tuition is subsidized by up to 70 per cent from the public purse. Parents, by the thousand, with just moderate incomes, see that subsidy as an encouragement to abandon failing public schools, which have been affected by the loss of some of the more academically oriented students and a disproportionate increase in those with special needs.