QESBA expresses initial views on Bill 60 - A statement from QESBA President David D'Aoust

MONTREAL, Nov. 7, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) expressed its disappointment today with the deposit of Bill 60 - the amended Charter of Values in the National Assembly calling on the ban of all ostentatious religious symbols to government employees including all public school personnel.

"Bill 60 is a bad solution to a problem that that we don't think exists. Quebec's public schools have a proud record of inclusion, of celebrating the different ways to be a Quebecer. Our teachers' union and our school boards have always found ways to strike the democratic and positive balance between religious differences and common values - including religious holidays, understanding diversity and respecting the same curriculum for all. So, where is the urgent need to move this highly divisive legislation to the top of the agenda? Where is the pressure coming from? QESBA and its member Boards would far prefer the government to be working with us to address the real issues that will matter to the future of the students in our classrooms (school success, character building, citizenship).

"The draft law proposes to ban the wearing of "ostentatious religious symbols" by all public-sector employees, thus including the 13,000 teachers, professionals, administrators and support staff in our system. (How many of them wear such symbols? Very few, I'm sure but that is not the point.) There are so many ways to be a proud citizen of this province. That's a great lesson for our students to learn and understand. Bill 60 wants to tear up that lesson plan. That's very disappointing and almost a slap in the face to our staff members and our elected school board leadership.

"QESBA will surely present its thoughts on the key aspects of this bill when and if Commission hearings are set. We will do so after talking to the teachers, administrators, parents and communities served by our nine-member Boards. We will do our best to look at the draft law with a clear focus on what is best for all of our students and staff.

"Inclusion, inquiry and fairness are bed-rock principles that guide the teaching we do in all nine English school boards across Quebec. So far, QESBA sees nothing - nothing in Bill 60 that strengthens these principles…quite the opposite, in fact.

"One other thing: this draft law promises to pile on yet one more bureaucratic reporting job on school boards, hospitals and other institutions - all of us striving to concentrate on the on-the-ground work that our taxpayers expect from us. Bill 60 tells each of us to draft our own policies showing how we will comply with the law. …I expect to have a thing or two to say on that matter when and if National Assembly hearings are called! We have our policies, and they are based on common sense and respect."

QESBA is the voice of English public education in Québec representing some 100,000 students.

SOURCE: Quebec English School Boards Association

For further information:

Kim Hamilton
Director of Communications and Special Projects
514-919-3894


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