Letter to the editor 2, March 12, 2015

Dear Editor,

Since François Blais took over from Yves Bolduc as minister of education, the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) has expressed a higher level of its disapproval with the Couillard government’s plans to rejuvenate Quebec’s education system by trimming its bulging bureaucracy.

Besides giving more freedom for decision- making to schools, teachers, and parents at the local level, plans include the merging of school boards. Nine English-language boards will now become seven by amalgamating three off -island boards. One board has about 4400 students, the other two: 5740 and 9,300 students.

The union of those boards would be smaller than either the Lester B. or English Montreal school boards. The association claims this merging is not conducive to improve student success. I believe QESBA’s claims are absolute nonsense.

Moreover, the plan calls for the 60 French-language school boards to merge into 36. President David D’Aoust, Executive Director Marcus Tabachnick, and Suanne Stein Day, a director of the QESBA must be reasonable, fair, and evolve. Regardless, Premier Couillard should follow through on his promises to education, which also includes the shifting of decision-making power.

On that matter, consider the role of parents in our school system. We have governing boards, parent committees and parent participation organizations. Unfortunately, though, for years, they have been toyed with by the Pearson school board. Th at said, in 2008, Education Minister Michelle Courchèsne created Bill 88 which makes administrative bodies more accessible and more accountable to parents.

To see these new accountability rules somewhat enforced, the bill called for fewer commissioners but an increase in parents’ representatives, who will sit at council meetings. Since last November’s school board elections, for example, Lester B. has four parent commissioners, who are a direct link between the board and governing boards - and that’s good.

But now we read some alarming news, in the March 9, ‘Monday Message’ schedule of the self-serving QESBA. This organization, which is always looking for some relevance, “is hoping to have a session for parent commissioners and a second for new commissioners.”

Can you imagine? Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse.

Chris Eustace

Pierrefonds

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