After delays, Quebec school board reform hearings start again

Click to play video: 'Bill 86 hearings start again' Bill 86 hearings start again
WATCH ABOVE: After several weeks of delays, Bill 86 hearings are reconvening at the National Assembly. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, officials heard from representatives of the English schools and school boards – Mar 8, 2016

QUEBEC CITY – After weeks of delays, hearings into school board reform reconvened Tuesday at the National Assembly.

Representatives from English schools and school boards finally had their say on Bill 86, legislation UQAM professor Richard Bourhis insisted would be “catastrophic.”

READ MORE: Hearings begin for Quebec bill that aims to abolish school board elections

In the first presentations from members of the anglophone community, he spoke about some compelling statistics.

“Even on French scores, the English school students are doing better than the French school students,” he said.

Students in English schools are the most bilingual in the province, the professor explained.

“Sometimes minority systems, with very involved commissioners, teachers, students who are aware that they are the minority, have at stake, the motivation to do well.”

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However,  the English school system itself is not doing as well.

Bourhis said a number of laws dating back to the 1970’s have limited the number of students allowed to attend and Bill 86 is just the latest blow.

The Liberal government wants to get rid of school board commissioners, as well as regular school board elections.

It comes at a time when the English school system is under a lot of pressure, he said, and can’t afford to change the structure of its current boards.

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

“All that know-how, all this institutional knowledge of how to deal with the systems will be blown away,” Bourhis told Global News.

Some English school boards are considering taking the matter to court to protect their constitutional right to manage their own boards, but they want to discuss other options first.

READ MORE: Quebec tables education reform bill, eliminates school board elections

“As far as the English community goes, a one-size-fits-all approach really does not fit,” said Jim Jordan, with the Association of Administrators of English Schools of Quebec.

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“The question is: can there be a different English school system than a French school system and in my opinion, why not?” said Brian Rock, chairperson for the Coalition pour l’avenir du reseau scolaire anglophone.

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