Parents, students worried about additional French courses at CEGEP

CEGEP administrators have vehemently opposed the amendment, which could lead to thousands of students failing classes or earning poor grades.

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After hearing from angry parents, concerned students and disgruntled English-speaking CEGEP administrators, the Quebec Liberal Party has admitted it made a big mistake in proposing that English-speaking students take three courses in French to graduate from CEGEP.

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“The message we want to convey to members of the community is that we have heard your concerns, we have heard your call, we agree that student success must come first and we certainly hope that the government can also come to this conclusion. “said the liberal House. said chef André Fortin on Monday evening.

The incredible own goal has forced the Liberals to go headlong to Premier François Legault’s government and demand that the controversial amendment be removed from Bill 96, the bill that will overhaul Quebec’s language law .

Fortin offered a mea culpa to the English-speaking community, acknowledging that “the proposed changes would have a disproportionate and significant impact on the success of approximately 25% of English-speaking students or on their R-Scores”, a measure used by universities to rank CEGEP students.

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During a committee hearing on Bill 96 in February, Simon Jolin-Barrette, the minister responsible for the French language, proposed an amendment requiring Francophone and allophone students attending Anglophone CEGEPs to take three courses in French.

Jolin-Barrette had planned to exempt English-speaking pupils – those eligible to attend English primary and secondary schools – from the new rule, but the Liberals insisted that the new curriculum also apply to English-speaking pupils.

The three French courses would be in addition to the two French as a second language courses that students must pass in order to graduate.

Hélène David, the Liberal member of the committee who proposed the amendment, did so in good faith and did not realize the impact it would have on student grades, Fortin said.

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After an outcry from the Anglophone community and CEGEP administrators, the Liberals reached out to the Coalition Avenir Québec government last week, asking that the requirement be removed from the bill.

“The ball is in their court,” Fortin said. “We hope the Premier and Simon Jolin-Barrette can look beyond the political issues here and see that student success must come before a political agenda.

To repeal the amendment, the Committee on Culture and Education would have to vote unanimously to withdraw it.

The president of the Association of English-Speaking Parents’ Committees of Quebec said she has been inundated with complaints from worried parents and students who fear they will fail French classes.

“Parents are freaking out,” Katherine Korakakis said in an interview Monday, before the Liberals changed course.

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Korakakis said parents tell him, “This is crazy, I can’t believe they’re doing this. I will never vote Liberal again.

About 15 to 20 high school students have also contacted her, worried about the consequences for their future.

“They say they won’t be able to pass, they won’t be able to graduate, and they’re scared,” said Korakakis, whose association represents parents’ committees of English school boards in the province.

Parents also worry that taking three courses in French — other than the two compulsory French as a second language courses — will affect their children’s R grades and prevent them from being admitted to their chosen field at university. .

The proposed change to the curriculum came out of nowhere. CEGEP administrators said they were not consulted and vehemently oppose the amendment, which could result in thousands of students failing or getting poor grades, according to the Federation of CEGEPs official.

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He estimated that approximately 35% of English-speaking students do not have sufficient knowledge of French to succeed in French courses.

English-speaking students have become political pawns as political parties in Quebec jostle for French-speaking votes ahead of provincial elections this fall, Korakakis said.

Fortin acknowledged that the changes to the school curriculum went too far, adding that there was “real concern in the community about academic achievement.”

He said his English-speaking constituents in the riding of Pontiac, Outaouais, have always spoken out about their needs and priorities and many of them spoke up when they realized the amendment would affect their lives. or that of their children.

“Of course they are,” he said.

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