Anglophones speak at education reform hearings
English groups are having their say at the hearings into school board reform.
On Wednesday the third day of hearings into Bill 86 took place in Quebec City.
Education Minister Sebastien Proulx is the third minister to be on this file, which was launched by Francois Blais, then transferred to Pierre Moreau, who had to step down from cabinet while he is treated for a tumour.
Proulx said at this point, he is not certain the bill will be passed by the time the winter session of the National Assembly wraps up in several months.
"I said we will take the time, my predecessor said we will take the time, the premier said the same thing. I'm not revising the schedule at the moment, but I want to do a good job and make sure we come to a conclusion that is amenable to all," said Proulx.
He later added that some compromises or changes will likely be made to the bill.
Under Bill 86, school boards throughout Quebec will be replaced with a non-elected council made up of parents, community members, school employees and principals.
Several proposals were made to previous provincial governments to to increase participation rates in school board elections but they were never implemented.
The most recent round of elections saw a province wide participation rate of under 5 percent, but it was far higher in the English boards: 21 percent.
The motion is strongly opposed by many people in the anglophone community, who say it violates the constitutional right for anglophones in Quebec to manage their own school system.
The Coalition for the Future of English Education in Quebec and the Association of Administrators of English Schools of Quebec testified on Tuesday at the hearings.
Jennifer Maccarone, the president of the Quebec English School Boards Association, spoke in the afternoon. The QESBA is arguing the bill isn't necessary, and that the government should make changes to Education Act instead of working on this new bill.
"It's convoluted because there's nothing in the bill that speaks to student success. The words 'student success' appear nowhere in the 56 pages of this bill, and that should be the main preoccupation and main goal. Not changes to governance structure that we know will not have a positive impact or influence on the success of our students going forward," said Maccarone.
The association is arguing the structure the government is proposing is convoluted, confusing, and difficult to implement.
Maccarone says she's optimistic and she did get a sense of openness from Proulx. Regardless, the QESBA’s position is that the bill in its current form is unconstitutional, and it will challenge the law in court if it's adopted as is.