For his second term, after having spent most of the first to “manage” a pandemic, François Legault takes double bites. He takes the two main pillars of the Quebec state head-on: health and education.
It’s daring if he pulls it off. If he fails, the bet will have been highly risky and politically costly.
While his minister Christian Dubé is fine-tuning his reform of a health and social services system that is more out of whack than ever, his minister Bernard Drainville is opening Pandora’s box for education.
In the eye of the storm at the end of the session, the Drainville reform is having a bad time. His intention to take control appointments in school service centers undermines the remaining shreds of what was once “school democracy” in Quebec.
According to the Auditor General, the Quebec school network even includes more than 30,000 teachers unqualified. In a damaged system, this data is worrying for the quality of the education of our children.
Luck to the runners
Above all, the dominant fear is that the Drainville reform will follow the same path as the Dubé health reform. That of centralization and a strong focus on mixing structures.
Luck nevertheless goes to the two runners. By the 2026 elections, however, they will have a serious obligation of results. The patience of Quebecers has run out of steam.
What is even more likely to weigh down the Drainville reform, if nothing changes, is that it opts for the status quo on the essentials. Like all his predecessors, he refuses to tackle the profoundly inequitable, not to say unjust, nature of the Quebec school system.
If he is among the worst performers in Canada, the reason, however, is that.
Instead of offering high quality education to all students – rich or poor, from Outremont or Centre-Sud – our network has become the most unequal in the country. I repeat: the most unequal.
The most unequal
This distressing observation is not that of the Communist Party, but of the Superior Council of Education in 2016. The same Council that Minister Drainville intends to abolish.
I’ve been writing it for a long time. With its so-called ordinary public schools, its heavily subsidized private schools, its completely private schools, its schools with a religious vocation, etc., unlike the other provinces, the Quebec school network is a veritable tower of Babel.
A tower of Babel from which students from the “ordinary” public are too often the big losers. To aspire to real social mobility in adulthood, they are however those who have the greatest need of a quality education.
The problem is that all the governments, including that of the CAQ, preferred to play the ostrich. The elites of Quebec are very attached to their subsidized private schools.
It is a flagrant social injustice. A sacred cow that only benefits some and disadvantages others. But no one wants to touch it.
This is why, even if the Drainville reform succeeds in improving school management, as long as Quebec clings to its Tower of Babel network, its overall performance will continue to suffer. And the losers will remain the same…
#Drainville #reform #education #bad #start