Letter to the editor, Feb. 18, 2016

Dear Editor,

As part of its ‘Bill 86 Community Mobilization’ plan, representatives of the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) have put on presentations to groups at the English Montreal, Lester B. Pearson and Riverside school boards.

Besides their rallying cry that Bill 86 is designed to, "actively suppress the Anglophone community," which, of course, is nonsense, the Association now claims that Bill 86 “...won't help student success."

In fact, part of their show includes a variation of these quotes: "Bill 86 makes a mockery of our 85 per cent success rates” and “...we cannot put student success at risk."

As a retired teacher, who has been in classrooms for about 37 years, the QESBA is wrong - very wrong.

The Bill suggests there are a significant growing number of students who need extra help to succeed.

As a result, one innovative key feature of Bill 86 calls for a 'Resource Allocation Committee' manned primarily by school principals.

No question, this committee will ensure maximum aid is obtained for our special needs students, because principals truly know what is needed in their schools.

And , if they don't know, they will find out, soon enough, by tech-savvy parents, who will make their concerns for their children's needs known by email, armed with information that is available on the internet.

That said, Bill 86 hinges on more parental involvement and governing board power in our education system. Parental involvement is the foundation of Bill 86.

Evidence has repeatedly shown that when parents get directly involved with their children’s education, students are more motivated and, consequently, gain higher marks.

Premier Couillard has said: “… to help our kids to succeed, (we will) give more power, more importance to parents, teachers and school principals.” This significant parental influence will manifest itself, in Bill 86, by giving parent commissioners voting rights on the new councils (boards).

In fact, the draft law declares a more significant parental influence, not only at the school governing board, but also, justly provides for a greater number of parents’ representatives at the school board level.

This will result in redefining the archaic universal suffrage that the QESBA wants to maintain so badly.

Consider: Twelve of the 16 councillors (commissioners) will be elected by parents, who have a vested interest in the system. Moreover, the chair or vice-chair of the new council has to be a parent.

An 85 per cent success rate in Anglophone boards is thanks primarily to parents and teachers – not school commissioners. Bill 86 acknowledges that fact – commissioners are out of the equation - and so is the QESBA, masters at forming committees, and attending expensive conferences, conventions, and congresses.

Once Bill 86 passes, with some modifications, parents should consider dumping our membership in the QESBA, with its campaign of fear mongering and misinformation, and ask the government to spend our tax dollars on something useful.

Here's an idea: Realizing the importance of parental participation in the school system, in 2010, the Ontario government launched a “Parent Involvement Policy.”

This policy provides funding to schools to engage parents in the education of their children, and offers strategies for success: www.parentinvolvement.ca.

Chris Eustace


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