A New Education Policy for Quebec

asserts that the usefulness of the Quebec English language School Boards to the English community is long past.

The public’s interest in primary and secondary school administration has fallen to new lows. Voter apathy reflects the questionable nature of school boards, and consequently voter turnout for school board elections has reached an impressive new bottom.

School costs are out of control, complaints abound throughout the system, and dropouts from public education, especially in the French sector, has reached new heights. Yet, private education in Quebec has blossomed.

English language boards display weak leadership in respect to access to English schooling. There is little public transparency and almost no responsibility towards the over-burdened taxpayer, who, like Atlas, wishes to shrug off a useless burden.

Moreover, the upcoming school board elections in November will perpetuate the current bureaucratic, centralized, standardized, top-down education system for four more laborious years.

Our communities need a government that will rectify these problems in the educational sector long before the next four-year mandate is over. Education impacts all of Quebec: children, parents, teachers, taxpayers, the economy, and all of society.

This is yet another file that the bumbling Charest Liberals have permitted to fester, uncorrected and unmanaged.

The educational infrastructure is decaying as rapidly as our roads. Yet, some board members and administrators are enjoying expensive travel and entertainment courtesy of public funds. These boards are accountable in theory, but not in practice.

Affiliation Quebec wants money earmarked for education to be spent “on children in the schools”, not wasted on bloated bureaucracies.

CEGEP and University Education in Quebec are funded neither by property taxes nor by tuition fees. Affiliation Quebec proposes that school taxation based on property values be abolished as should school fees. The existing school board system, based on local property taxes, must also be abolished.

Each public school would perform like a corporation in the private sector or a CGEP, with its own governing board, composed of principal, teachers, and parents. The principal would be responsible to his governing board, and of course, to the Department of Education.

Funding will come from the Quebec Government on a per capita basis, from which proceeds, the governing board of each individual school institution would administer and operate the school.

The Department of Education, as it is now, would specify curriculum and set examinations. Each governing board would hire qualified teachers from the Quebec licensed pool of available teachers, on a Quebec-wide contract.

Similar changes to the school boards system have been enacted elsewhere in Canada, in some US states and in Britain. Investigation of these various educational systems will permit Quebec to select a model most suited to our provincial requirements.

Once in place, we can obtain a careful scrutiny of school successes and failures by a sophisticated league table of performance on province wide examinations. By measuring “value added “, we can show that a “good” school is one that helps students improve, along with those with the highest marks.

Education in Canada is a provincial responsibility. Sadly, Canada is the only western country, besides Switzerland, to have no national department of education, no national standards, no national textbooks, nor national qualifications at the secondary school level.

Quebec’s original, constitutionally entrenched English school boards have been replaced with the now diminishing and inefficient English language boards. While another major change for English language education will cause some upheaval, nothing would be worse than endorsing the current flawed system currently in place.

We understand that transportation and support for suburban and rural schools could pose a challenge, but in the end, competent and visionary educators and planners will surely ferret out viable and creative solutions.

Affiliation Quebec proposes this new education framework in the hope that the upcoming, wasteful election and board system in Quebec will be the last. A more efficient, responsive, decentralized, deregulated and responsible education system should be created in its place.