With roaring applause, members of the CAQ welcomed Education Minister Bernard Drainville’s reform at Quebec’s National Assembly on Thursday.
Bill 23 would give the minister more powers, including the power to appoint general directors in school service centers and the power to reverse decisions made by those same employees.
“To ensure coherence between the orientations of the government and how it’s being applied, how it’s being applied in the classrooms,” Drainville said.
But critics clapped back.
“I think this bill is more egregious than we suspected,” said Russell Copeman, the executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA).
Drainville insists Bill 23 will be beneficial for anglophones — adding that he will appoint director generals from the community.
Copeman fundamentally disagrees.
“In no way, shape or form does anything in Bill 23 in our view respect the rights of the English community, that’s an absolute red herring,” Copeman.
Copeman says Bill 23, just like Bill 40 before it, takes away the right of anglophones to govern their own institutions.
Bill 40 abolished school boards in favor of service centers.
QESBA is currently fighting the legislation in court and has been granted a stay.
“Bill 23 deals with many of the same issues that were dealt with in Bill 40 and that’s why we’re calling it is certainly a violation of the spirit of that stay,” Copeman said.
The opposition also came out swinging against the new bill.
“With this proposed bill do you think we’re going to have DGs who are going to speak up? Or are they going to be silent? Most of them are going to be silent because most of them don’t want to be fired,” said Marwah Rizqy, the Quebec Liberal Party’s education critic.
A new education excellence institute
Bill 23 is also seeking to set up a new education excellence institute.
“The idea really is to create a place where the science of education, the best practices, the best means of teaching will be recognized and hopefully from this place we will disseminate in the classrooms these best methods,” Drainville explained.
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Teachers are concerned about what it would mean in terms of training.
Drainville dismissed those concerns.
“Why would it be a threat, learning throughout your life?” the minister said.
Heidi Yetman of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers said the concern is over forcing unnecessary training through the proposed institute.
“Teachers are open and willing to learn, absolutely, but they want to be able to have the choice of their professional development,” Yetman said.
The bill will be debated at the National Assembly, and so far, those affected are gearing up for a fight.
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