Monkey business with regard to high-school graduation credits in the separate system.
The Ministry of Education document entitled “Ontario Secondary Schools, Grades 9 to 12” is available at: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/curricul/secondary/oss/oss.pdf
This document lists in detail on pages 8 to 12 the credits required for high-school graduation. To earn a graduation diploma a student is required to earn 18 credits in the list of compulsory subjects during grades 9 to 12.
“In addition to the 18 compulsory credits, students must earn 12 additional credits. Students may earn these credits by successfully completing courses that they have selected from the courses listed as available in the school course calendar.” (Ministry, page 9.)
Note that the selection of optional credits is made by the student.
The paragraph to note, however, also from page 9, is the following:
“While the school board and principal may recommend that students take certain courses in addition to the required subjects, they may not identify additional subjects or courses as compulsory requirements towards the earning of the secondary school diploma.”
However, when the course calendars of Roman Catholic separate high schools are observed, one finds that most, if not all, separate school boards require that courses in Religious Education be taken.
Indeed, in defiance of the previous paragraph in bold type, two of three schools chosen at random make the religious education courses a requirement for graduation.
Brant Haldimand NCDSB
The Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk Catholic District School Board, under the title “Ontario Secondary School Diploma Requirements” lists the 12 optional courses required for graduation thus:
“You must complete:
- 4 religion credits But see links at bottom of this page.
- 8 optional credits”
This definitely states that the 12 optional credits must include 4 religion credits – made compulsory by the school. This is not in keeping with the Ministry directive: “…they may not identify additional subjects or courses as compulsory requirements towards the earning of the secondary school diploma.”
Renfrew County separate
In the Renfrew County RC board, the Bishop Smith Catholic High School course calendar lists under the title:
“Optional Credits (Total of 12)
In addition to the 18 compulsory credits, students must earn 12 optional credits, 4 of which are Religion credits.”
This is a clear violation of Ministry rules.
Elsewhere on the page appears:
“Bishop Smith Catholic High School requires that students take a course in Religious Education in each year of secondary school.”
This is a requirement of the school only. The school is prohibited from saying that this is a Ministry requirement for graduation. However, a good many do violate this prohibition.
Ottawa RC separate
Paragraphs from the Ottawa Roman Catholic separate school board under the title “Religious Education” state:
“Catholic schools provide a distinctive faith-based educational experience that includes courses in Religious Education.
* * *
“… All Religious Education courses are approved for accreditation by the Ministry of Education and count towards fulfilling the secondary school diploma requirements.”
Yes, they can “count”, but they cannot count as “must be completed” courses for the 12 optional credits. If the student wishes any or all to count for graduation, it must be voluntary.
“Students will derive knowledge and skills from the study of Scripture, Profession of Faith, Christian Moral Development, Prayer and Sacramental Life, and Family Life.
“For these reasons” (and that’s the only reason) “students are required by the Ottawa Catholic School Board to take one course in Religious Education in each year of secondary school.”
See links at bottom of this page.
Note that it says “…required by the Ottawa Catholic school board…” and NOT by the Ministry. This is acceptable – as a student choice – but they cannot be made “required” as four of the twelve.
Word from the Ministry
Education officers in both Ottawa and Toronto have advised that a separate school may require a student to take four religion credits as a condition of attending the school, but although those credits may count for graduation under the 12 optional credits required, none are to be designated by the school as a must-have credit to count toward the Ministry-required 12 optional credits for graduation.
Section 3.2 on page 11 “Substitutions for compulsory courses” states:
“In order to allow flexibility in designing a student’s program and to ensure that all students can qualify for the secondary school diploma, substitutions may be made for a limited number of compulsory credit courses using courses from the remaining courses offered by the school that meet the requirements for compulsory credits. To meet individual students’ needs, principals may replace up to three of these courses (or the equivalent in half courses) with courses from the remainder of those that meet the compulsory credit requirements.
“The decision to make a substitution for a student should be made only if the student’s educational interests are best served by such substitution. If a parent or an adult student requests a substitution, the principal will determine whether or not a substitution should be made. A principal may also initiate consideration of whether a substitution should be made. The principal will make his or her decision in consultation with the parent or adult student and appropriate school staff. In cases where the parent or adult student disagrees with the decision of the principal, the parent or adult student may ask the appropriate supervisory officer to review the matter.” (Bold type added.)
Can a Roman Catholic student be removed from a separate school if that student refuses to take religion credits? Neither officer would say because it could be a policy of the individual school or board. Both commented that if a Roman Catholic student didn’t want to take any religion credits, the student should have known enough about the requirements and chosen instead to apply to a public school.
See links at bottom of this page.
Rules re public students
It should be noted however, that, under Education Act section “42(12) A person who is qualified to be a resident pupil in respect of a secondary school operated by a public board who attends a secondary school operated by a Roman Catholic board for a reason other than the one mentioned in clause (11) (a) or (b) is considered to have enrolled in all of the school’s programs and courses of study in religious education. 1997, c. 31, s. 20.”
Section 42(13) reads:
“In addition to the exemptions provided for in subsection (11), no person who is qualified to be a resident pupil in respect of a secondary school operated by a public board who attends a secondary school operated by a Roman Catholic board shall be required to take part in any program or course of study in religious education on written application to the Board of,
(a) the parent or guardian of the person;
(b) in the case of a person who is 16 or 17 years old who has withdrawn from parentalcontrol, the person himself or herself;
(c) in the case of a person who is 18 years old or older, the person himself or herself.
2006, c. 28, s. 9.” See links at bottom of this page.
Quality of education
Along with the compulsory courses, the optional courses are designed to provide all students with the essential knowledge and skills they will need to function effectively in any area of activity, as well as the opportunities to acquire the specialized knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in their chosen post-secondary endeavours.
Where RC students in separate schools are forced to substitute four religion courses for four of the twelve optional courses, it means that they may be handicapped in the real world through missing the opportunity to learn in four other areas of study.
See more under “Exemptions from Roman Catholic religious programs & courses” and www.myexemption.ca