“$1 million spent in tax funds from English School Boards”

I am a retired teacher who for over 10 years has been a frequent attendee of the Lester B. Pearson School Board Council meetings. Permit me to elaborate on the October 7, QCT article : "QESBA to meet at Concorde next weekend; Bill 88 on agenda?"

First, though, what is the QESBA? The nine English school boards in Quebec are members of the Quebec English School Boards Association, which is a member of the Canadian School Boards Association. Membership in either association is costly and, of course, paid by the taxpayer.

What do they do? Let us take an example and review the association's past actions concerning the lack of English textbooks for students to follow the new curriculum.

I was a teacher in one of the two Montreal high schools piloting the new curriculum. We raised concern about the lack of English texts. The story was reported on May 1, 2003 in The Gazette: " School reform rupture: Pierrefonds Comprehensive holds lessons for minister ".

Looking back: what benefit was the QESBA's 2006 paper: "Advisory Council on the Future of English Public Education" , the brief to the Bouchard-Taylor Commission in 2007, and the report to the forum on the Future of School Boards in 2008? Not one word was mentioned regarding the English textbook matter.

Of what educational and economic value was this year's trip to California by some of the QESBA members to attend a National School Boards Association conference? Last year, they went to Florida. Again, nothing to do with textbooks for Quebec's English students.

In fact, the QESBA's silence on this item not only embarrassed the present Minister of Education, Michelle Courchesne, who was misled by the QESBA, by claiming everything was OK on the English front, but also former Minister of Education, Pauline Marois. Madame Marois initiated the curriculum reform. It is written in English just like Quebec's Education Act - and Bill 88.

Therefore, indeed, the Quebec English School Boards Association will be discussing, among other things, the ramifications of Bill 88 that is a parent-friendly law. Bill 88 gives parents/taxpayers a bigger say in our education system. The QESBA must understand that the rules have changed.

Consider this headline from an article in the May 28, 2008 of Le Devoir: " Les commissions scolaires doivent en finir avec le statu quo, dit Courchesne".

That said, Quebec has the largest education bureaucracy, comprised of the costliest school boards governed by too many commissioners with the lowest voter turnout - in Canada. The QESBA does not respond to the needs of English Quebecers. We need schools with more autonomy and fewer bureaucratic levels, which cost a lot of money that seem to serve little purpose.

Presently, our school tax-dollars are being used against us. I believe the QESBA should be dismantled because it is unfavourable to the benefits of Bill 88. If the English school boards of Quebec were to withdraw their membership from the QESBA, over one million dollars ($1,000,000) could be reinvested into our English-speaking classrooms.

This weekend's QESBA Conference is nothing more than an extravagant expenditure under the pseudo guise of professional development - a charade, an embarrassment to the English community, and an absolute disgrace.

Chris Eustace