What are legitimate questions in education?


Regarding Mr. Eustace’s comments of Aug. 6 “Kudos to reporters” emphasizing the English School Board’s creation of an absurd history examination whereby Quebec is declared a nation.

It is best to get one’s facts right before misinforming the public about what the English School Boards are responsible for.

Acknowledging Quebec as a Nation would not be within a school board’s mandate nor would it be advisable to teach content without the blessing of the Ministry of Education. Commissioners do not have control over the curriculum.

“Quebec is a nation” is a phrase that has been in textbooks. I can attest to this reality. Taken out of context, as it has by Mr. Eustace, it is a piece of information twisting the minds of our youth. However as part of a 2010 Secondary 4 history exam (a government driven exam), is it considered propaganda? Or is it a legitimate question? Is it true or false or both true and false?

In my opinion it all depends on how the teacher explains the concept in the classroom and how it is related to social trends and modern issues. This is definitely a topic that will evoke discussion and promote critical thinking concerning the changing fabric of our political reality.

The Federal Government in 2006 passed a motion recognizing the people, les “Québécois” as a nation “within” a united Canada. Does this concept not deserve recognition in the classroom?

The mandate of the Council of Commissioners is to oversee the budget and its distribution to our schools and centers while constantly trying to improve the services provided to our clientele.

Instead of revisiting the year 2010, let’s focus on how we can make our schools a better place to learn now and in the future and have the freedom to discuss and debate social affairs and put aside our own limited vision, fears and ideologies.

Angela Nolet

Lester B. Pearson School Board
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  1. Aug. 22, 2014

    This is a response to the above published letter on Aug. 13 penned by fellow-candidate for chairperson of the Lester B. Pearson School Board, Angela Nolet: "What are legitimate questions in education?" Her letter raises other pertinent questions.

    Since Madame Nolet is the vice-chair of the Pearson board, it is partly forgivable that she would spill a lot of ink defending an exam, to which I merely made a passing reference, in my Aug. 6 letter. I had simply complimented Suburban reporters for their coverage of the upcoming Nov. 2 school board elections.

    Briefly, I suggested that the newly-elected commissioners, via their Education Committees, should help the government "to improve the teaching of Canadian history in our schools." I did not expect a lesson on the "Québécois" and nationhood.

    However, suffice it to say, the June 2010, Grade 10, optional history exam, independently created by four English boards, led by Pearson, and intended for English schools, received an overwhelmingly negative reaction from the public.

    The government distanced itself from it; some English boards and some schools refused to give it to their students. The condemnation was evident in letters to the Editor of The Gazette, which included a former parent commissioner, an op-ed by a former teachers' union head, and was reported by CJAD radio and CTV Montreal News. There was so much controversy, the LBPSB Director of Curriculum Services , also wrote a Gazette piece defending the exam.

    Teachers indicated that they found the terms used in the exam to be well beyond the understanding of most 16 year-olds , or as Madame Nolet refers to them as "our clientele."

    The exam was unacceptable for a variety of reasons, yet Madame Nolet still comes to its defence. Is this the kind of leadership she proposes to continue if elected as Board Chairman?


    More important, though, the vice-chair is absolutely correct when she states "the mandate of the Council of Commissioners is to oversee the budget." It is also equally true the Education Act grants the right for the taxpaying public to ask questions about the budget without any restrictions.

    In 2012, I was denied that right, and took the matter to the Ethics Commissioner. In 2013, my written questions were ignored, and I do not recall anyone asking questions about the budget. On August 25, it is expected the 2014-2015 budget will be passed, and, I will still not be allowed to ask any questions.

    Presently, there is a list of rules and conditions imposed upon me, which makes me wonder: What are legitimate questions to ask at the Public Question Period, anyway? Who is going to be next to be deprived of the right to ask questions?

    My letter was triggered by a Suburban picture of former politician Clifford Lincoln, who said that it was his belief (concerning a political matter) that "rights are rights are rights."

    The same thinking should apply to the Quebec Education Act. There are rights that must be respected.

    According to a letter to the Suburban Editor by Chairperson Suanne Stein, on Dec.11, 2013, titled "Critic silenced at LBPSB," she wrote " no commissioner had a dissenting opinion" about barring me to participate at Council Question Periods. Worse, Madame Stein Day states that it was the Council (who barred me) "not me."

    Will Madame Nolet, maintain the status quo, or display courage and integrity by pressuring the Pearson board to permit all interested members of the public to pose questions about the upcoming budget?

    More information : http://aceteacher.ca

    Chris Eustace

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