The Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA) and the members and communities we represent across the country are shocked and saddened to hear the Quebec provincial government’s interest in robbing their French-speaking citizens of a public education system governed by democratically elected community members dedicated to public education.
The democratic practice of electing representation to serve the needs of citizens is a cornerstone of Canadian society, and this applies to representation supporting public education. Governing school boards are members of the communities they serve, dedicated to the public education system, and providing access and transparency to local decisions. The solution to concerns with a democratic system is to improve it, not to eliminate it. If the provincial government of Quebec has such concerns with governing school boards, we call on them to work WITH the provincial school board associations to strengthen these roles in service of students to whom they are accountable. Recent research strongly supported that “high functioning governing school boards support student success and quality public education”, found here http://www.cdnsba.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Elected-School-Boards-Literature-Review-FINAL.pdf. Governments would be wise to strengthen this partnership.
The government should also consider the election process for governing school boards if voter turnout is a concern. Low voter turnout is a problem that touches all levels of government. In other jurisdictions across Canada, school board elections are tied with municipal elections to support voter turnout, reduce duplication of costs and improve accessibility. Quebec should consider following a similar approach.
All people of Quebec have a right to democratically elected governing school boards in their public education systems, regardless if schooling is in French or English. We have seen the loss of majority English governing school boards in Nova Scotia and the negative effect this is having on the education community. Parents, guardians, students and education staff have spoken out that they no longer have access to policy and decision makers. This elimination of community voice has not improved public education. Having community members govern public education is vital for both majority and minority communities.
Public education deserves community representation via all governing school boards who have the autonomy to make the best decisions for their students. We urge the Minister to reconsider this legislation and work with school boards to strengthen student success for all citizens, for now and future generations.
For more information contact:
Laurie French, President CSBA, (613) 217-1875