(Quebec) Quebec is undergoing its second reform of school administration in three years. The bill, chaired by Education Minister Bernard Trinville, was passed on Thursday 23rd by 76 votes to 29.
The new law – prompting mixed reactions – will give the minister the power to appoint directors general of school service centres, overturn their decisions or fire them.
The minister could regulate teachers’ continuous training, which unions see as a pioneering attack on teachers’ autonomy.
Also, the law aims to improve access to data on the network and guarantee that a student’s academic record will follow him throughout his life.
It creates a national institute for excellence in education whose mandate is to guide the school network toward evidence-supported educational practices.
It also restructures the Higher Education Council so that it focuses solely on higher education.
During consultations last June, trade unions expressed fears that the National Commission would not be truly independent as its members would be appointed by the government.
They accused Minister Trinville of wanting to take all the power and ordered him to abandon his reforms to focus on problems in the classrooms. Mr. Drainville vowed to “resist resistance to change.”
The review of Bill 23 took place in the context of negotiations on a new collective agreement for the public sector.
“I would like to thank all my colleagues who participated in the preparation of this bill. “Be it in the board or in the ministry, the collaborative work has paid off,” said Mr. Trainville declared.
“We’re improving the performance of the network. […] Better coordination between government guidance and the sector, improved access to data and creation of a national institute of excellence will be beneficial for the success of our youth,” he added.
On Thursday, Quebec’s Federation of School Service Centers (FCSSQ) also welcomed the adoption of Bill 23.
In a press release, it noted progress “particularly in relation to the creation of a national specialized agency and the establishment of a system for filing and communicating information common to the entire public education network.”
“This solution will standardize their collection and facilitate exchange through school service centers,” announced FCSSQ President and CEO, Carolyn Duprey.
“This information will support the management, organization and planning of services to get a better overall view of the network and make the network more effective and efficient,” he added.
Also, FCSSQ welcomes the addition of seven new programs to the Teaching Accreditation Regulation, which it says will contribute to “quickly qualifying more people to teach in our institutions and addressing labor shortages”.
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