Letter to the editor, August 16, 2018

School Board Democracy

Dear Editor,

On Monday, August 20 at 5:30 p.m., the Lester B. Pearson School Board will be holding an Executive Committee meeting. It may be its last, here’s why. Let's back up.

In a letter to the editor of The Journal on November 6, 2014, I conceded defeat in my bid to become chairman of the Lester B. Pearson School Board. In my letter, on the web, I thanked, "the 3650 voters" who cast their ballots favouring my platform, which called for the electorate to think of Governing Boards, not school boards.

Moreover, I promised to continue supporting the government on issues dealing with, "accountability and transparency," and to defend the government with, "any initiatives to make matters better for the taxpayer, our schools, classrooms and, most important, our students."

For the past four years, I continued to attend and speak up at Public Question Period times at most, if not all, Pearson Executive Committee, Council of Commissioners, and Parent Committee meetings.

Disappointing does not begin to describe the experience.

Issues dealing ethics was at the root of most problems. Think of the ethics violations associated by the past chairperson. Think of the reportedly $80,000 spent on lawyers by the chair to silence democratically elected commissioners, who were voted in by over 11,000 electors. Consider the new Code of Ethics devised by commissioners that really does very little to prevent continued abuses of power.

Think of the 'commissioner replacement process' undertaken in the past few months by the Pearson board (Judy Kelley), the Sir Wilfrid Laurier school board (Melissa Wall), and the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board (Maurice Éthier). The process of the latter two was done in an open and transparent manner, without reported controversy, and respectful of the Parents Committee.

Then think of the Couillard government which was voted in (April 2014) with promise and hope to clean up the elected school board system (Bill 86). Instead, it is now concluding its mandate (June 2018), making a farce of democracy, by delaying school board elections for two years (Bill 185) - much to the despair of many parents and commissioners.

On October 1, Quebecers are going to the polls. I hope the party that promises to put parents at the centre of the public education system, wins.

Chris Eustace


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