Town­ships’ School Boards de­plore lack of vision

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Spe­cial col­lab­o­ra­tion East­ern Towmship School­boards

All four French and English lan­guage school boards in the Town­ships’ have joined to­gether to de­plore the ab­sence of a real vision to­ward aca­demic suc­cess in Bill 86, par­tic­u­larly for stu­dents in the re­gion. The Que­bec gov­ern­ment is cur­rently con­sult­ing on the draft Bill “An Act to mod­ify the or­ga­ni­za­tion and gover­nance of school boards to give schools a greater say in de­ci­sion-mak­ing and en­sure par­ents’ pres­ence within each school board’s de­ci­sion-mak­ing body”. The Town­ships’ felt chal­lenged by the in­tro­duc­tion of this bill, and was heard in con­sul­ta­tion on March 24 in Que­bec City.

The Town­ships’ school boards be­lieve that Bill 86 di­lutes the ef­forts that should be made to sup­port stu­dent suc­cess and raises ques­tions. How to en­sure stu­dent suc­cess? Who are likely to be open to work­ing in partnership within a model of ped­a­gog­i­cal, ad­min­is­tra­tive and elec­tive gover­nance in or­der to achieve this goal? The Town­ships’ school boards are there­fore con­cerned with the im­por­tance given to aca­demic achieve­ment and of the role of each player whether from an ur­ban or a ru­ral area. Im­prove­ments to keep

From the out­set, the school boards in the Town­ships’ have been favourable to­wards some el­e­ments of the bill. They are sup­port­ive of the fact that the strate­gic plan of a school board be­comes the com­mit­ment-to-suc­cess plan. They are also in agree­ment with the idea of a re­source al­lo­ca­tion com­mit­tee, which would be ben­e­fi­cial to each com­mu­nity and in par­tic­u­lar to the ru­ral re­gions.

How­ever, the chair­men wish to main­tain school board democ­racy. “For the Com­mis­sion sco­laire des Som­mets, it is es­pe­cially im­por­tant that real ef­forts are made to in­crease the rate of par­tic­i­pa­tion in school elec­tions, em­pha­sizes Chair­man Jean -Philippe Bac­hand. Abol­ish­ing school board democ­racy is de­priv­ing each cit­i­zen of his con­trol over ed­u­ca­tion. We pro­pose to hold school elec­tions si­mul­ta­ne­ously with mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions and change the elec­tion date to the first Sun­day in Oc­to­ber. We be­lieve that these ac­tions will al­low us to reach more vot­ers. "The im­por­tance of the par­ents’ role

The Town­ships’ school boards are in agree­ment with Bill 86 re­gard­ing the fact that par­ents’ pres­ence be greater. Their num­ber has even in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly since the last elec­tion. How­ever, they are ques­tion­ing the way the min­is­ter wishes to ob­tain their pres­ence. “The cur­rent bill with its pro­posed struc­tural changes does noth­ing to in­crease the role of par­ents due to the cen­tral­iza­tion of au­thor­ity to the min­istry. Fur­ther­more, abol­ish­ing demo­crat­i­cally elected com­mis­sion­ers merely re­moves gover­nance by the com­mu­nity at large to gover­nance by users, ef­fec­tively sub­sti­tut­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion by the en­tire com­mu­nity for gover­nance by a mi­nor­ity, there­fore di­min­ish­ing the col­lec­tive voice of the An­glo­phone com­mu­nity,” ex­pressed the Chair­man of the East­ern Town­ships School Board, Michael Mur­ray.

"Elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­side in their con­stituen­cies, they re­ceive feed­back from their fel­low cit­i­zens and know the re­al­ity of the stu­dents, ex­plains Pa­tri­cia Sévi­gny, Vice-Chair­man of the Com­mis­sion sco­laire des Hauts–Can­tons. School rep­re­sen­ta­tives are also able to cre­ate part­ner­ships that sup­port stu­dent suc­cess and im­prove­ments to the in­fra­struc­ture. The im­por­tance of this close con­tact, this vector of devel­op­ment, does not seem to have been taken into ac­count in Bill 86."

In ad­di­tion, Town­ships’ school boards be­lieve that the Min­is­ter lacks un­der­stand­ing as to the in­volve­ment of elected school of­fi­cials within the com­mu­ni­ties. "With the pres­ence of a large num­ber of pri­vate schools in the Sher­brooke area, elected school of­fi­cials play a key role

in the pro­mo­tion and en­hance­ment of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion in their ter­ri­tory. In ad­di­tion, a de­tailed knowl­edge of our en­vi­ron­ment al­lows us to un­der­stand the mes­sage of the 23 % of im­mi­grants who are among our clien­tele, to en­sure an eq­ui­table distri­bu­tion of re­sources and that all stu­dents have ac­cess to the same qual­ity of ser­vice. We build part­ner­ships that are nec­es­sary to an­swer the needs of stu­dents," main­tains Mr. Gilles Nor­mand, Chair­man of the Com­mis­sion sco­laire de la Ré­gion-de-Sher­brooke.

In short, the school boards in the Town­ships’ be­lieve that Bill 86 is on the wrong track. They be­lieve that the cur­rent struc­ture of school boards is al­ready re­spon­sive to the wishes ex­pressed by Bill 86 on rep­re­sen­ta­tive­ness and ef­fec­tive­ness. Does this mean that a deeper re­flec­tion on our ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem is use­less? Ob­vi­ously not, but it should be done tak­ing into per­spec­tive the ed­u­ca­tional suc­cess of stu­dents. The largest con­cern for their suc­cess men­tioned by the gov­ern­ment should lead to an Es­tates General on ed­u­ca­tion and the pro­duc­tion of a prov­ince wide pol­icy on aca­demic suc­cess and per­se­ver­ance that would pro­vide guid­ance and clear bench­marks.

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