Proposed reforms to school boards discriminate against francophones, French boards say
MONTREAL – An organization that represents Quebec's school boards didn't wait until the start of parliamentary hearings Monday afternoon to slam the Quebec government's proposed reforms to school boards.
The Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec (FCSQ) says Bill 40, the CAQ government's proposed reforms -- which would, among other things, abolish school boards and replace them with service centres -- discriminates against francophones.
The bill proposes appointing the board members of the new service centres in the French system, but it allows many of the posts on the boards of the English service centres to continue to be elected by the public.
FCSQ President Alain Fortier says the organization has not ruled out a court appeal of Bill 40.
The FCSQ was not the first education group to take aim at Bill 40 ahead of the hearings in Quebec CIty.
Over the weekend, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) called for a number of amendments to the province’s school board reform bill.
The CSQ says it fears Bill 40 will increase the likelihood of service inequalities between schools and denounces what it calls a direct attack against teachers.
"It is a lack of respect for those who are in the schools to not be consulted," CSQ President Sonia Éthier said Sunday.
The trade union, considered the third-largest in Quebec, says it will present a total of 14 recommendations at the parliamentary hearing Monday.
It will also present nine more recommendations by the Fédération des syndicats de l'enseignement (FSE), an affiliation of the CSQ.
The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA), Appele-Québec and the FCSQ are also expected to be heard.
Controversy stirred last month after the province’s two largest school boards, the Commission Scolaire de Montréal (CSDM) and the English Montreal School Board (EMSB), were excluded from the procedure. The EMSB confirmed to CTV News Monday that it was not invited to speak at the hearings.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) had previously stated it wanted to have a limited committee hearing, which means only groups that are invited will be able to speak.
The three opposition parties, the Quebec Liberal Party, the Parti Québécois (PQ) and Québec Solidaire, had proposed about 200 possible speakers, while the CAQ offered up about 40.
After suggesting that only 31 groups be chosen to attend the hearings, opposition members accused the CAQ of trying to bulldoze procedures and use its majority to quickly adopt the motion.
What school board reform?
Bill 40, which aims to turn school boards across the province into service centres, was tabled on Oct. 1 by Roberge.
It’s a move the government has called “the end of school boards as we know it,” proposing that more power be given to the ministry.
Under the bill, the French system will lose its right to hold elections to choose commissioners and directors. The English system will keep that right, as Roberge acknowledged the community argued strongly to protect its minority language rights.
The government says it wants to adopt the reform before the end of the current session in early December.
The legislation proposes that school boards cease to exist by November 2020.
-- with files from The Canadian Press.