MONTREAL, AUGUST 15, 2012 – The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is expressing its concern over the way in which public school boards are being represented during the present provincial election campaign.
“We provide perhaps one of the most important services in society,” states EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini, “and that is educating our children. I think we do that very well, yet you would not know this from following this election campaign.”
Ms. Mancini said she will be requesting meetings with representatives from the leading political parties to discuss the importance of the public education system.
Ms. Mancini notes that in 2002 the Parti Québecois introduced Bill 104, which closed a so-called loophole in its French-language charter that had enabled some students who weren't eligible to attend English schools to gain that right. They did so by attending an unsubsidized English private school for at least a year. Many then switched to English public schools, but the Quebec law ended that option. “Our board had more than 27,000 students before that law was adopted,” emphasizes Ms. Mancini. “This year’s forecast sees that number drop below 20,000. Between 2007 and 2017, the EMSB is projected to lose over 4,600 or 20 percent of our students while the francophone school boards on the Island of Montreal will increase by 18,000 or 13 percent over the same period. A lot of damage has been done to our English system. Now, the PQ is proposing that they will further tighten the language laws and restrict access to our adult educational and vocational service programs. This is yet another attempt to harm the English public education system while at the same time telling adults that they do not have the right to free choice.”
As for the Coalition Avenir du Québec, Ms. Mancini says she is in complete disagreement with leader François Legault`s plan to abolish school boards. “This is the same Mr. Legault, I might add, who introduced Bill 104 while with the PQ,” said Ms. Mancini. “First and foremost, abolishing English school boards is unconstitutional. He should know that. His plans for what would replace school boards are very unclear. School boards serve a very important purpose and in the case of the English community, we represent one of the last remaining elected English bodies.”
From the Quebec Liberal Party the EMSB would like to receive a clear answer as to what they have planned for public school boards, Ms. Mancini says. “School board elections were supposed to take place last November,” she states. “They were postponed, with no clear answer as to when the next ones will take place. We have been waiting for direction on this important information.”