Some parents say they worry their local neighbourhood school will suffer under reforms proposed by the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government.
Education Minister Jean-François Roberge heard more opposition Monday to the plan to abolish school boards, as national assembly public hearings continued.
Mothers Natalie Poirier and Patricia Clermont, who represent the movement, “je protège mon ecole publique” (I’m protecting my public school), were the first to testify Monday. They said they fear if Bill 40 — the government’s plan to replace school boards with service centres — is passed, elementary schools will start competing with each other for students, which will weaken neighbourhoods.
The bill will let parents decide where to send their kids, even if the school isn’t in the neighbourhood where they live.
“It’s already the case right now, especially in high schools, parents will choose their school depending on the project, so imagine now doing it with primary schools,” she said.
“I think it’s kind of sad because it’s fun to see children outside, mingling altogether, going to the same school, walking together, taking their bikes, you know, getting the community together,” she added.
Poirier and Clermont agree with opposition parties who say the minister is moving too fast with his reform.
“And I hope he will learn the lesson of last week of Simon Jolin-Barrette that when you rush something too quickly and you forget to make real consultation, well, that can backfire,” said Liberal MNA Marwah Rizqy.
After massive public backlash last week, Minister Jolin-Barrette was forced to backtrack on changes he proposed to a popular immigration program for international graduates. He brought those changes forward not by a law that is debated publicly in the National Assembly, but rather, a regulation that is decided in the minister’s office.
The Opposition Parti Québécois said they fear the education minister will try to do the same thing once he passes this school board reform bill.
“He says any measure that could help to realize the aim of this bill could be taken by regulation, so this is quite worrisome,” said PQ MNA Véronique Hivon.