Possible school board reforms pose no threat to Anglophones: Birnbaum

Click to play video: 'Birnbaum defends Bill 86' Birnbaum defends Bill 86
WATCH ABOVE: Global Montreal's Senior Anchor Jamie Orchard speaks to David Birnbaum, former executive director of the English School Board Association and current Liberal MNA for D'Arcy McGee, about why he supports Bill 86, the government's proposal to do away with how school boards are currently run – Jan 20, 2016

MONTREAL – Quebec’s Liberal government has proposed to do away with school board elections, but that’s causing some worries for the province’s English community.

The minority Anglophone community opposes Bill 86 because it insists its ability to govern its school system would be compromised.

The government argued that it would centralise public school management and put teachers, parents and students at the helm of the decision-making process.

READ MORE: EMSB applauds decision to be included in Bill 86 hearings

David Birnbaum, former executive director of the Quebec English School Board Association (QESBA) and current Liberal MNA for D’Arcy McGee, sat down with Senior Anchor Jamie Orchard to discuss why he’s supporting Bill 86.

He insisted democratic processes, such as electing school representatives, would not be affected.

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They would, however, require a registry with 15 per cent of support from parents to hold that election.

“This law, frankly, can be made a catalyst for us to do even better,” he said.

“There’s room for teachers and principals, who are so key to the life of kids in the school, to be more involved in decision-making.”

“There’s a role for parents – not a majority role – but there is a role for parents in the decision-making over how budgets are distributed and what programs are offered.”

WATCH ABOVE: Bill 86 reform of Quebec education

Birbaum said he understands how important community management of English institutions is to Quebec Anglophones.

“I remain convinced that this bill will not compromise that management control, that there will be room for us to do this right while making things better,” he said.

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The government insisted school board elections are a growing burden on the education system, and even though voter numbers are higher at English boards, it was just five per cent during the 2014 elections.

READ MORE: More English voices need to be heard at Bill 86 hearings, says QCGN

Birnbaum argued reformatting the system won’t negatively affect services, and more importantly, student success.

The government will hold public consultations on the bill.

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