Letter to the editor 3, July 7, 2016

Dear Editor,

On Friday, July 8, the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) will be presenting a workshop at the annual Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA) 'Congress,' being held this year in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The 'Congress' runs from July 7 to 9 and its theme is ‘Courageous Leadership’ with the title of the QESBA workshop being: "The Battle for Democracy & Minority Community Control in the Education System: A Lesson in Courageous Leadership."

The presenters of the QESBA workshop will be its Executive Director Marcus Tabachnick (former president of the CSBA & QESBA), and President Jennifer Maccarone. They will be joined by Vice-president Suanne Stein Day, chairperson of the Lester B. Pearson school board.

The program says: "The workshop will discuss the traits of Courageous Leadership and how those traits translated into a cohesive, well organized, motivating campaign against Quebec government proposed legislation."

This is in reference to draft Bill 86. The government decided to scrap school board elections and, in turn, give greater decision-making power to schools.

Millions of dollars that went for elections, commissioner salaries, and expenses for conferences, under the pseudo guise of professional development, would be redirected to schools.

Of course, this action meant the aforementioned individuals would be out of work, and lose about $50,000 - $100,000 each annually.

The QESBA launched a scaremongering campaign, with the president saying she didn't want her children to be used as "guinea pigs," and vice-president claiming "children will suffer." QESBA threatened to go to the Supreme Court declaring the bill was undemocratic and implying the Quebec government was anti-English, as if we were in Selma, Alabama, in the 1960s.

On the other hand, there were two English-speaking groups: "Parent Power in School Governance” and “Parents for a Democratic EMSB" who put up a fight, with letters to the editors, agreeing with the government, and so did the provincial French parents committee and French principals association.

But they were no match for the QESBA, with its unlimited financial resources for a scaremongering campaign, and a president who said she didn't want her children to be used as "guinea pigs," and vice-president claiming "children will suffer."

The workshop will conclude by highlighting "the absolute need for courageous leaders," which means to maintain school board commissioners with pay.

The presentation is billed as a "Lesson on Courageous Leadership."

Hardly.

As a retired teacher, an education activist for many years, I would characterize the real lesson is about cowardly leadership in the English education community and the poor example this leadership sets for our youth.

The QESBA refers to "The Battle for Democracy."

Considering the ban imposed on me by Chairperson Stein Day preventing me from participating in Public Question Periods for over two-and-a-half years - that's a disgrace.

Chris Eustace

Pierrefonds

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