QESBA decries Legault plan as "simplistic and short-sighted"

MONTREAL, April 12 /CNW Telbec/ - "The challenges facing public education are complex and the stakes are high, but the answers won't come from dismantling democratic structures or denigrating the role of teachers," noted Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) President Debbie Horrocks in a statement released today. She was responding to proposals from former Education Minister François Legault that include abolishing elected school boards, testing teachers on the student marks they produce and creating patchworks of local schools, each with their own hiring authority.

"Quebecers understand that public education is a sacred trust, and they aren't about to sacrifice the future success and well-being of their children to simplistic and short-sighted solutions," Horrocks noted. Abolishing duly elected school boards and asking teachers to meet assembly-line targets for student marks are hardly constructive paths towards improvement in public education."

Legault's "Coalition pour l'avenir" calls for an end to Quebec's universally elected school boards and their replacement by regional councils based on the existing network of administrative regions. "Our nine English school boards across Quebec are a constitutionally protected level of government," Horrocks added, "and one that ensures our parents and communities are fully engaged in the control and management of the English schools we operate. Elected school boards ensure our ability to adapt programs to keep high school graduation rates far above the provincial average, to deliver superior French second-language programs, to answer to the communities we serve. That is not always an easy task but we are accountable for it each and every day. It is a mystery to me why a former Education Minister would decide that an overhaul to structures is the magical pathway to a better public school experience for the students who come through our doors each morning."

QESBA has long called for improvements in the salaries paid to Quebec teachers - now among the lowest in Canada. On that point, Horrocks echoed M. Legault's preoccupations. The Association rejects, however, the suggestion that teachers' job security be abolished as a consequence. "We have philosophical and practical problems with that suggestion," she noted. "First, it's intellectually dishonest: every study in Quebec shows that, on a 15-year horizon, shortages of teachers at almost every level will continue. That means that there are not enough teachers to meet the demand. Second, QESBA believes fundamentally in accountability, and we have high expectations of our teachers across Quebec. They face complex and human challenges each day, in ensuring that every child reaches his or her full potential, in addressing a diversity of student potential and problems; we call on our teachers to accompany children in their whole development and to work with and report to parents on the progress they make. QESBA is not about to reduce that essential process to some arbitrary system of spot tests like M. Legault seems to be proposing."

QESBA is the voice of English public education in Quebec. Its nine member school boards serve some 105,000 students in 340 elementary and high schools, adult and vocational centres.


For further information:

Kim Hamilton
Director of Communications and Special Projects
514-849-5900, ext.: 225

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