Canadian Royal Commission on Education to Hear Jewish Requests

A proposal that school taxes paid by Jews in the Province of Quebec be used as subventions to Jewish schools teaching secular subjects, as well as to the existing Jewish Day Schools, was made here today by a prominent Jewish expert on education, M.H. Myerson, who is acting as consultant to the Committee on the Position of Jews in the Educational System in the Province of Quebec.

Mr. Myerson, formerly a member of the Canadian Jewish Congress National Executive, said he was speaking solely as an individual, since the Canadian Jewish Congress has as yet taken no definite positions on the issue. It is expected that the CJC may coordinate Jewish thinking on the problem before hearings are begun by a recently named Quebec Royal Commission on Education.

According to Mr. Myerson, there are 4, 000 Jewish children enrolled in the Jewish day schools or parochial schools which teach the ordinary school curriculum as well as subjects pertaining to Judaism and Jewish culture. These schools are financed entirely by tuition fees and from Jewish voluntary contributions, receiving no tax funds whatever.

Between 16, 000 and 17, 000 Jewish pupils are enrolled in schools conducted by the Protestant Board. In addition to the Protestant school system, there is a separate Catholic school system in this Province. Both the Protestant and the Catholic school systems are financed through school taxes.

JEWS IN QUEBEC PROVINCE PAY 53 PERCENT OF PROTESTANT SCHOOL TAXES

Mr. Myerson contended that Jews pay about 53 percent of the Protestant school taxes. On the other hand, he stated, the educational law as it now stands holds that “the Jew is deemed to be Protestant. ” He added that Jews have no say whatever in the determination of the secular teaching programs in the Protestant school system.

Emphasizing that the Protestant Board “does not exercise its legal right to discriminate” against Jews, and “has, as a matter of fact, engaged many Jewish teachers, ” Mr. Myerson pointed out that the Protestant board does have rights that are unpalatable to the Jewish population. He made two points in that regard:

“1. Jewish young men and women who enter the teaching profession do so at considerable risk. They may never be engaged by the Protestant Board. There is a specific rule to that effect. If they are engaged, it is an ‘act of grace.’ He asked whether this ‘act of grace’ constitutes “indignities engendering ‘disgrace’ to the Jewish community in 1961. “

“2. Young Jewish boys and girls who obtain highest marks entitling them to scholarships if they were non-Jews, cannot claim these scholarships as a matter of right. If they do get them, it is again an ‘act of grace.’ “

A front-page editorial in the Canadian Jewish Chronicle here, presenting Mr. Myerson’s individual views, declared: “The problem of the education of our Jewish children in the Province of Quebec has been a burning issue for the past 30 years. It has become more acute today as Jewish leaders and the Canadian Jewish Congress grope for a solution which will satisfy all segments of the Community.”

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