Fighting against the abolition of school boards
Creation of COFFEE Western Quebec
Chair of the Citizens of the Outaouais for the Future of Education in Western Quebec (COFFEE-WQ), a local group that is advocating against the abolition of school boards in Quebec, was formed in January.
During the last provincial election, the CAQ promised the abolition of school boards.
The Minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge, already specified that the school boards will no longer exist as of November 2, 2020.
COFFEE-WQ is now waiting for the specifics of the legislation to voice its concerns.
The citizen group would like the school boards to remain status quo. They want the preservation of the constitutional guarantee which provides for management and control of English schools in Quebec. The group is also asking for section 42.5 of the Education Act to be amended. That section concerns community representative of governing boards. At the present moment they are not elected but appointed. COFFEE Western Quebec wants the community representative to be elected.
The CAQ has promised to replace the existing school boards with regional service centres. If that goes through as planned, the act respecting school elections would then be abolished.
From what it seems from the election campaign last year, the government would use the governing board structure to elect the governing board of the regional school centres. There would then be no universal suffrage for the election of commissioners.
“They have the right to abolish French school boards but they must put in place a structure that allows the minority community to have management and control of minority schools,” says Brian Rock, chair of COFFEE Western Quebec. That right figures in section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and freedoms, which addresses minority language educational rights.
COFFEE Western Quebec exists since 2015, when the Liberal Party of Quebec (LPQ) proposed a draft legislation abolishing school boards that would have abolished councils of commissioners.
The organization is a coalition of different groups that has the English education system at the centre of its priorities. It includes APPELE (Alliance for the promotion of public English language education in Quebec).
There are presently 72 school boards in Quebec, including 9 English ones.
The government already promised not to alter the English system and to keep 9 regional service centres once the abolition of school boards comes into effect. As the idea becomes reality, the government would prefer the implementation of 30 regional service centres (9 English, 18 French and 3 with a particular status).