Letter to the editor 3, Dec. 10, 2015

Dear Editor,

Bravo to Premier Philippe Couillard for bringing Quebec's education system into the 21st Century.

At the National Assembly, on December 4, Education Minister François Blais tabled parent-friendly Bill 86, which ditches province-wide school elections, and gives more school decision-making power to parents, teachers, principals and support staff.

Moreover, as promised, the bill has granted "formal rights" that should please the English-speaking community, in particular, because they further satisfy constitution minority-language education rights. This comes in the form of an option for parents to have elections for the new councils' community reps.

Initial reaction to the bill has been mixed. Predictably, the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA), is against it. It claims it's unconstitutional, and is planning to go to the Supreme Court of Canada.

However, so far, it seems the French Central Parents' Committees (CPC) and French principals' association are on board.

No question, the bill will need some fine tuning. Besides the government hearings, which will, undoubtedly, feature various groups, the CPCs of all school boards will meet to discuss the elements and make recommendations.

Additionally, citizens concerned with education matters will have the opportunity to express themselves.

For example: I would recommend that elected positions (if any) be one 3-year term only. Voting should not be done online, as suggested by the draft bill - in person is safer and less subject to hacking.

The QESBA has taken the wrong approach in bad-mouthing a majority government, led by Premier Couillard, who promised, in January, to make education a priority in 2015 by revamping the system aimed at student achievement.

The QESBA, which is always looking for relevance, is now for the first time in its 17-year history, claiming the organization is linked to "student success."

That is not so. Its raison d'être is to take care of its "valued clients" - school boards and commissioners. That's all.

Bill 86 is a gift that modernizes and democratizes Quebec's public school system.

The English community should now focus on sharpening this piece of innovative education legislation, which is expected to kick in around October 2016.

Bill 86 stands for Democracy, Ethics, Accountability and Respect.

Chris Eustace


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