The gamble may have backfired
Monday’s La Presse front page article on the Eastern Townships School Board gamble of spending tens of thousands of dollars to attract ‘foreign’ students will not help the ETSB, nor the Anglophone school boards of the province.
The program is a panacea for the declining enrolment of students in the school board and, as the Montreal newspaper reported, is not exactly public knowledge because the Board has not directly approved of it. Total cost of the latest trip to Asia and Europe, around $8,000. Next trip, in February, is to Mexico and then Brazil sometime. This newspaper has a strange feeling that this will not play well with the French press. Luckily, the National Assembly is in recess. Not the politicians.
We do not think that ‘recruiting’ foreign students to learn English in Quebec is the most brilliant political move of the millennium. Already the private English schools in the province are living on borrowed time; if they are to face competition from the public sector, one wonders how long they will survive.
Now, it would be easy to blame the Liberals, but since the PQ was in power for almost 18 months, it looks as if they were not exactly minding the store. More so for their base clientele.
The blame rests on the Ministry of Education: if they never found out about this, they are incompetent.
As for the opposition to the school board movement, they have been given another golden opportunity to dismantle them. One of the main holdbacks was that the English school board had a constitutional guarantee, not respecting the unwritten rule that they are not to ‘anglicize’ immigrants. That was the deal that Education Minister and later Premier Pauline Marois was able to negotiate with her government, then led by Lucien Bouchard. Breaking the deal will be seen by many as a sign that the Anglophones are back to their old games once again. That the reality is more complex doesn’t change the perception whatsoever.
When you add to the mix that there is already a perception that the Couillard government is almost anti-French, unable to understand what Québec (with the accent) is, then you have an explosive mix. While some are confident that the fixed date election is a guarantee for Anglophones for the next four years, we would not bet our last dollar on this. The old Robert Bourassa recipe of keeping social peace doesn’t seem to be part of this government’s DNA.
Actually, the whole mess could be avoided. BY YOU. While we understand that some Anglophone parents are almost forced to send their children to a French school, an hour bus drive is not a pleasant outing for a youngster going to elementary school, the fact is that the French school boards are full of Anglophone kids who are depleting the system. So all of this would be avoided if parents sent their kids to English school.