QUEBEC, May 6, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Quebec judge has ordered a three-year-old and a five-year-old to attend state-funded day care following claims that the children lacked proper “socialization.”
The parents of the Notre-Dame-des-Bois family were also ordered to place their two elder homeschooled children in public schools, and accused of failing to act quickly to correct learning disabilities, despite their doctor’s testimony to the contrary.
“This is a shocking decision,” said Paul Faris of the Canadian branch of the Home School Legal Defense Association, who have backed the family’s case. He told LifeSiteNews this is the latest in the Quebec government’s ongoing effort to “clamp down on choice in education.”
He said the most concerning part is the judge’s decision to “order the younger children who were not of compulsory school age into day care for socialization.”
The family, who have homeschooled for four years, were reported to the province’s Youth Protection Services in November 2009 after a run-in with the local school board. The elder children were ordered into school in April 2010 after court proceedings began in February 2010. There was a four-day trial in November, and Judge Nicole Bernier issued her ruling in March.
Faris said the court refused to hear the parents’ expert witness and dismissed the testimony of the family doctor, who has been fully supportive of their medical decisions. In her ruling, Judge Bernier claimed the family doctor’s testimony lacked objectivity and was “full of bias” owing to his relationship with the parents.
Faris said the judge gave “excess weight” to the government’s experts, who he says “found that one child’s hearing impairment ‘indicated’ that the parents could not be trusted and therefore all the children should be enrolled in public school programs.” Judge Bernier determined that the security and development of the children was compromised by parental negligence.
In her ruling, Judge Bernier called the mother’s teaching approach “outdated,” saying it emphasized repetition exercises and acquisition of knowledge rather than the Ministry’s preferred approach of teaching learning skills. She also criticizes the elder children’s social development, noting that they had difficulty at first with the other children when they entered the classroom.
“The parents, though aware … of the need to stimulate each child by interactions with peers of the same age, outside of the family, either at school, kindergarten, or day care or occasional education trips, maintain their interest in the teaching model of the home school,” she wrote, going on to lament that they are “refusing to integrate the youngest in kindergarten or day care, and opposing educational outings for the children.”
“Their reasons are always the same and regard a social mistrust that does not meet the needs of their children,” she added. She also took issue with the fact that the parents apparently had not obtained a homeschooling exemption under the Education Act, which requires that the parents offer a program equivalent to that offered in the schools.
The family, which is Roman Catholic, is now launching an appeal to the Quebec Superior Court.
Faris argued that the ruling ignored objective measurement of the children’s successful development.
“This is a quality homeschooling family that exercised diligence in teaching their kids,” Faris told LifeSiteNews. “We’ve had the kids tested and are certainly satisfied that they’re doing well.”
News of this family’s plight comes as the Quebec government faces a Supreme Court challenge this month of their refusal to allow exemptions in the public schools from a controversial course in relativism known as “ethics and religious culture.”
The government has even tried to impose the mandatory ERC program, which purports to present the spectrum of world religions and lifestyle choices from a “neutral” stance, on the province’s private schools. A Superior Court judge ruled in June 2010 that their effort to do so had assumed a “totalitarian character.”
In December, the government instituted a ban on religious instruction in its government-funded daycares.
Michael Donnelly, Director of International Relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association, said Quebec appears to be joining countries like Germany and Sweden in its repressive opposition to homeschooling.
“There is homeschooling freedom in most of Canada. However, it appears that Québec is more like Germany or Sweden when it comes to homeschooling regulations,” said Donnelly.
“This judge’s decision reads like one from these countries that are repressing homeschooling. The philosophy represented by this judge’s decision must be resisted.”
To support the family’s legal battle, click here.