School officials concerned over CAQ proposal to eliminate boards

By Robert Frank

Threatened by Coalition pour l’avenir du Québec’s education proposals, Quebec school board officials have voiced their opposition.

Lester B. Pearson School Board chair Susane Stein-Day has voiced criticism of CAQ education policy and, last week, John Rennie High School sent students home from registration with a one-page flyer pleading for parents to support school boards.

“Our English school boards play a very constructive role,” Liberal cabinet minister Geoffrey Kelley told The Suburban in an interview. “School success rates in the English boards are higher than the provincial average.”

“Even someone who is not necessarily an ally of the English school boards, Jacques Parizeau, said ‘look, we should take a closer look at what the English school boards are doing right.’ I think that eliminating these incubators for best practices would be a mistake.”

Paola Hawa, the CAQ candidate running against Kelley, said that her party’s education policy is being misrepresented.

“The only thing that will change is the power structure,” she told The Suburban in an interview. “Parents will get a direct say in what happens at their school.”

“Instead of top-down approach, we’re advocating a bottom-up approach to education,” she explained. “Parents at each school will conduct elections for their own school and they will decide where their money goes.”

She underscored that this change will help public schools, which have been losing students to private schools that are more responsive to parents.

Kelley wants municipal elections to be held together school board elections on Nov. 1, 2013.

“The idea was to put [school board elections] in phase with municipal elections,” explained Kelley. “Something that other provinces do successfully is [to conduct] municipal and school board elections on the same day.”

“I know there’s resistance in both the school boards and in the municipal realm,” he acknowledged, “but we think that it’s an experiment that’s worth trying to see whether that could increase the participation rate in the school board elections.”

“We’ll have to see after the election, but that’s where we’re headed.”

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