Cuts to Montreal Jewish Schools Need Explaining


montreal-yThe Montreal Gazette reports: Education Minister Michelle Courchesne moved swiftly this month to cut off funding to three Jewish schools offering CEGEP-level courses. She has done this on the grounds that they are private schools whose public subsidies are funneled through a publicly funded college, the CEGEP Marie-Victorin. This is not a totally obscure point, but nonetheless Quebecers will have trouble grasping the principle – and will wonder what is behind the government’s haste.

The point is not that the three schools – which serve Orthodox Jewish communities – are not eligible for public subsidies. They are.

Nor is the fact that they offer religious instruction in addition to the government curriculum at issue. A number of the 100 or so private schools in Quebec do the same thing. Loyola High School is a well-known example in Montreal.

The optics of a public institution administering private schools are, possibly, a little off, but the agreement between Marie-Victorin and two of the schools has lasted more than a quarter of a century.

Why, then, the urgency to cut the subsidies? The government gives no satisfactory explanation.

Nothing material has changed: Two of the schools joined Collège Marie-Victorin when it was a private college, which it was until 1993. Six years later, the third school joined them.

Now, the schools have been put in a position where they cannot accept new students for the January term. (Students already enrolled will be allowed to finish their course of studies.)

The schools have been inspected by Quebec’s Commission d’évaluation de l’enseignement collégial twice, in 2000 and again in 2004, with a follow-up in 2007. The commission was not happy in 2000, but in 2007 informed Marie-Victorin that it was pleased with the schools’ efforts to conform to provincial educational goals, as well as with their efforts to ensure a more diverse selection of books and other sources of information.

In the reports from 2000 and 2004, there were problems raised that the commission needs to track. The fact that officials from Marie-Victorin could not gain easy access to the Jewish schools to assess their commitment to teach the provincial curriculum was disquieting.

But that is not what the minister has decided to worry about, which will lead some to suspect that removing the schools’ funding might be politically motivated. If that’s true, it’s shameful. The minister could at least have given the schools enough time to re-establish their status as private schools.

{The Montreal Gazette} { Newscenter}


  1. This is sad especially in Canada, where according to it’s constitution Catholic schools can receive 100% gov’t funding but not any other religion.