Quebec’s education decline

By 
  • January 30, 2014

Late last week, the Catholic girls school at the top of my street announced it would close its doors permanently at the end of this school year. In its 126th year, Queen of Angels Academy simply cannot afford to continue.

As news, and obviously from purely human consideration, the closure was but a tiny blip against the tragedy that confronted Quebecers with that horrifying fire in L’Isle-Verte. Yet as a sign of corrosive social shift rather than immediate catastrophe, the loss of a Montreal religious school founded in 1888 deserves attention. Indeed, Queen of Angels’ closure will almost certainly be followed in the next year or two by the shuttering of other private Catholic schools in Montreal. Economics and its twin sister demographics, with help from their one-toothed second cousin politics, threaten the remnants of the Catholic educational system that once formed Quebec’s factory workers and its cultural, business and political elite alike.

When Quebec abolished its public confessional schools in 1997, and replaced them with linguistically based boards, private education was really the only recourse for parents seeking Catholic pedagogy. Even so, within a decade, the government moved to weaken the Catholic identity of those private schools by imposing its Ethics and Religious Culture program. It forbade the ERC program being taught from a confessional perspective, which is why Montreal’s Loyola High School will be in the Supreme Court of Canada on March 24 arguing its Charter rights have been violated.

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