The existence of Champlain College depends on so many variables that its existence is a marvel on its own. Since it is the only English Cegep outside of Montreal, theoretically it covers a territory that is larger than most countries on the planet, while being one of the smallest in the province.
The fight that has been brewing for years, namely splitting up the college in three, came up again, this time trying to emulate a setup in the DeLanaudière region where campuses are ‘autonomous’.
What is needed is a better understanding by students and staff that what can be done somewhere is not necessarily politically acceptable everywhere.
And what is needed and fast is the signature of Minister Blais on the decree fulfilling the half dozen seats on the board. The board missing these members is in disarray, unable to function normally. The stroke of the ministerial pen would solve one big problem without a penny to be spent. A rarity in today’s so called ‘austerity’ environment.
Next is a genuine reflection on the state of English education in Quebec. It is not a Liberal sponsored mishmash of seminars, as happened last weekend, that will solve the deep problem of governance in the education sector.
That Quebec’s father of our school system is proposing that school boards be elected by parents shows that a non-existing problem doesn’t need a solution that would worsen the situation.
And we should not leave it to the Supreme Court to think alone about what an education board is all about.
For the Anglophones in Quebec, it is not the parents who need to control their school, college and university boards, but the community. They are, now, the only institutions left in Quebec where the community has a voice.
As for Champlain, it needs a refocusing of its mission and a weaning of its reliance on French students to fill the void of missing English students. For this it needs resources to provide services to all regions of Quebec. And it will have to find a way to do so cooperating with the French Cegep. It is unacceptable that in 2015, English high school graduates in the Gaspe, the North Shore or in Northern Quebec do not have access to local collegiate level education in their language.
Uprooting kids, to Quebec City or Montreal, is the best way of killing these communities.
This brings us back, once again, to the ‘Centre scolaire communautaire’ concept started in New-Brunswick decades ago. The English community should investigate seriously that approach if it wants to be able to furnish education services in the future.
Meanwhile, this newspaper is willing to draw a check to cover the cost of the ink needed by the Education Minister to sign the paperwork to fill the vacant post on the board of Champlain.