English educators angered by new tests demanded under Bill 14
Published Thursday, December 6, 2012 9:12PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 6, 2012 9:13PM EST
MONTREAL—The Parti Quebecois’ update to Bill 101, aimed at expanding the reach of Quebec’s language charter, has caused no shortage of controversy. Anglophone educators are balking at the suggestion that French-language teaching isn’t a priority.
Under Bill 14, tabled in the National Assembly on Wednesday, tough new rules in high school and CEGEP will require French proficiency testing for the province’s Anglophone students.
“This is beyond belief stupid,” said Ruth Rosenfield, speaking for the Montreal Teachers’ Association.
According to Rosenfield, Pauline Marois, a former education minister, should know that learning French is taken seriously in English schools.
“She should know what we are doing already in the English education system to ensure that our students are able to function in Quebec society. We don't need an additional lashing, which is what I think this is,” said Rosenfield.
Words weren’t minced either at the English Montreal School Board: inappropriate and unnecessary, they said of the law.
“I don't know what their goal is here, but we certainly have no problem making sure that our kids speak excellent French. That's the goal, we want them to stay here in Quebec and prosper,” said EMSB spokesman Michael Cohen.
The principal at Royal Vale couldn't agree more. They don't need the test, but she's certainly not worried about students struggling to pass it.
“Our students are fluent and are performing well, so adding a test, well we're fine with that. It wouldn't make a difference,” said Royal Vale Principal Nathalie Lacroix-Maillette.
For many, Bill 14 is Marois flexing her political muscle, and for those in the English education system the possibility of a new test is sending yet another message that they say they've heard before.
“Apparently no matter how much time and energy we're devoting, no matter how well our students are doing, they still have to be punished. I think the way that most people would interpret that is, if you want to tell us you don't want us, we heard you,” said Rosenfield.
Loud and clear, echoed Cohen.
“We don't need to be told that our students need to be bilingual and biliterate, we know that and we're working extra hard to make that happen.”
Test or no test, Montreal’s English educations say that it seems sometimes the grade is never going to be high enough.
Quebec Immigration and Cultural Communities Minister Diane De Courcy responds to reporters’ questions on the situation of the French language in Montreal at the legislature in Quebec City on Wednesday, October 24, 2012. (Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS)