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Ontario Targets Homeschoolers
January 30, 2006 permalink
The Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada has warned its members that proposed changes to the law will harm homeschooled teenagers. The following letter by Paul D. Faris LL.B., Executive Director and Legal Counsel, outlines the problem. We have omitted those parts of the letter instructing members how to participate in action to oppose the law.
Ontario Raises Compulsory School Age to 18 — Bill 52
The Ontario government has introduced legislation to raise the compulsory school attendance age in Ontario to 18. Introduced on December 13, 2005, Bill 52 will enforce the new age of attendance through several means including:
- Imposing fines on employers who hire students who should be in school,
- Requiring proof of school attendance to obtain a drivers license, and
- Imposing fines against parents and children who do not attend school and are not legitimately excused.
While homeschoolers will continue to be exempt from school attendance so long as they are receiving "satisfactory instruction at home or elsewhere", the changes may restrict the freedoms of homeschoolers in several ways.
First, Bill 52 extends by two years the time allowed to parents to justify themselves to the government, or fear having to justify themselves to the government, for homeschooling their children. This is especially a problem where students may have completed high school early, or want to incorporate apprenticeship or other learning experiences into their later high school years without having to justify it as satisfactory instruction.
Second, Bill 52 raises concerns that homeschoolers may hit bureaucratic barriers in applying for jobs and drivers licenses. This is of particular concern in relation to drivers licenses. Bill 52 seems to set up a system whereby students will have to prove they are in compliance with the attendance laws before they can get a drivers license. Such proof may take the form of written permission and confirmation that the student is in school or homeschooling.
It is not clear yet exactly how the legislation will be implemented as that will largely depend on the regulations and policies that are developed following its passage. Nevertheless, it is very important that our concerns be heard now.
Preferred Resolution: A removal of any ties between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Transportation.
Secondary Resolution: Proposed ties between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Transportation retained, but a letter from a parent to the Ministry of Transportation would be sufficient to enable a homeschooling student to obtain a drivers license.