QUÉBEC CITY, June 21, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Fédération des comités de parents du Québec (FCPQ) President Corinne Payne's review of the 2014-2015 school year that is winding down is rather bleak.
According to Ms. Payne, "parents want this period of confusion that is rampant throughout the world of education to end. It seems to us that there are better things to do than dismantle education in Québec."
She went on to say, "We want the government to stop cuts that undermine the public education system's ability to provide educational services crucial to the success of thousands of students across Québec. Reinvestment is a must!"
"Several of our partners in the education community are worried about the future of education in Québec. Here we're talking about our collective future. There has to be a consensus," said Corinne Payne.
She added, "We're convinced that the strength of Québec's public education system lies in the hands of its many, many partners, all of whom must act in students' best interest. To optimize the impact of their action, the government must give them a concrete plan and clear objectives on which everyone agrees."
School board mergers
As Corinne Payne sees it, "parents would have gladly done without all of the commotion to focus public attention on the need for tools that foster student success and help them stay in school until they graduate. But because the Government of Québec intends to change the way the public system operates, the decisions to come must be based on convincing evidence that the changes will enable better deployment of services to all students and foster better learning conditions for all. So far, we haven't gotten these assurances."
According to the FCPQ President, "the question of school board mergers is a perfect example of the wait-and-see approach that hampers the system's ability to act in the best interest of students. I would add that there is no conclusive evidence that administrative structures have any real impact on improving students' ability to learn and on their success rate. However, many studies show that the time that goes into redrawing organizational charts is unproductive in terms of student success."
"The proposed overhaul does nothing for students. It's an expense that doesn't generate returns. Does the government still intend to do this at a time when money is short, parents' bills keep piling up, and services are dwindling?" Corinne Payne asked.
Review of Education Act powers and administration
"To date, the piecemeal information we're getting from government authorities seems to indicate that, in the long run, parent participation in school system management could increase under the new form of governance. We certainly hope so," said Corinne Payne.
"No one in Québec can blame parents for wanting to assume all the responsibilities they're entitled to. Education isn't private turf and in order for it to be sustainable, it's crucial that stakeholders' roles change with the times. The government's openness to enhance the role of parents is an opportunity for us," she pointed out.
"Unfortunately, education system partners are divided on the issue of remapping school governance. The government must seek consensus from them. There are several options that make it possible not to throw the baby out with the bath water," Ms. Payne explained.
"These fundamental questions should be discussed within a forum where the partners commit to a common goal and a shared long-term vision of education as a priority for Québec. The FCPQ wants to share its opinions with everyone in a spirit of openness. Unfortunately, parents have not been invited to join the Table Québec-commissions scolaires," Corinne Payne indicated.
Student success and staying in school. Are they still on the table?
Ms. Payne continued by saying, "Equal opportunity for all students and student success and keeping students in school until graduation must always be core objectives as the public education system grows and changes. With all the ado this school year, discussion of these issues seems to have been omitted from public debate."
"Québec-wide strategies regarding student success have gotten nowhere. The regional bodies that would have played a leadership role in tailored projects to keep students from dropping out have disappeared and there's no follow-up. And yet, what's at stake here is savings, long-term prosperity and wealth creation on the personal and societal level."
"Especially when it comes to education, shouldn't we be thinking ahead of decisions and about the consequences of implementation, rather than coming up with solutions cobbled together after the fact? These decisions often have unexpected and undocumented effects that the partners don't want, and that may even be the exact opposite of the intended outcomes," the FCPQ President cautioned.
Cutbacks and the bill passed on to parents
Ms. Payne said that "parents understand that there has to be a review of how public monies are managed. Parents are taxpayers too. But we have to know the real cost of the cutbacks and who'll foot the bill. We sincerely believe that if the cutbacks continue, they'll end up costing the public education system more than any savings they might generate. We want proof that this won't be the case."
Corinne Payne made the point that "it's our society as a whole that pays the price when students drop out. In the end, it's parents who will have to pay out of pocket for private tutors and so forth for their children, and for increases in school childcare fees and the cost of school supplies, educational outings and school transportation."
"Parents are ready to take on responsibility within the education system. In fact, they've already demanded it and made a point-by-point list of the powers they want to see codified differently. It's through legal amendment and compliance with the letter and spirit of the Education Act that we can strengthen the impact of the role of parents in managing their schools," the FCPQ President explained.
She said in closing that "more than ever, parents are part of the solution for improving the public education system! We want to continue to help to create stimulating learning environments and conditions. The future belongs to adapted services and leeway in the approaches to offering educational and special services. A blanket approach has no place in modern education. We have to be able to customize services to the specificities of each school community. Parents are excellent witnesses to these situations. They experience them every day."
Profile of the Fédération des comités de parents du Québec (FCPQ):
For nearly 40 years, the FCPQ has been an umbrella group for Québec school board Parents' Committees and has supported volunteering parents who care about parent participation in public elementary and secondary schools in order to ensure quality education for children.
SOURCE Fédération des comités de parents du Québec (FCPQ)
For further information: Jean-François Gilbert, Communications Adviser, Phone: (418) 667-2432, Cell: (581) 985-2359, Email: [email protected]