QFHSA statement on the threat of School closures

QUEBEC FEDERATION OF HOME AND SCHOOL ASSOCIATIONS

Where is the community consultation?

May 13, 2019- The Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations, Inc. (QFHSA) defends the right of access to English education in Quebec, be it in small isolated rural schools in the regions, or small urban schools on the Island of Montreal.

The QFHSA is, therefore, alarmed at the speed and heavy handedness which the current Minister of Education and Higher Education has used to forgo community consultation in favour of expediency.

Only last year, the Ministry was proud to announce its education reform as a plan to give the community more direct say:

“More than ever, we believe that schools must belong to their neighbourhoods. The members of a community are the people best equipped to determine the needs of their schools and defend the interests of the students in those schools.” – School Governance plan, CAQ website 2018, p. 4

Now, the process is more one of “informing parents”, not consulting with them, as was indicated in the recent letter sent by Jean-Francois Roberge, Minister of Education and Higher Education, to EMSB Chair Angela Mancini, regarding the unilateral transfer of three EMSB schools: Gerald McShane Elementary School, General Vanier Elementary School and John Paul I High School in the east end of Montreal to Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île  in Riviere-des-Prairies so soon after the transfer of Riverdale High School to Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys.

What happened to the promise of community consultation?

This does not bode well for the proposed school service centers as institutions mandated to respect and respond to the needs of the English community as these school closures are not a solution the school board itself nor the parents would have chosen. The Minister is forcing the EMSB to bypass its own parent consultation timeline to satisfy the problem of over-crowding in the French sector, in time for the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. The elimination of three schools and the relocation of those students in such a short period of time are reckless actions and do not honour the government’s commitment to allow communities to defend the interests of students in their communities.

The government has been listening to the needs of the French school boards to the detriment of the English school boards.

The Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations and other English education organizations must be invited to sit down with the government and be closely involved in the process going forward if we are to have any faith that the government will respect our community’s right to control and manage our education institutions.

The Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations, promoting the involvement of parents in education for 75 years, offers the benefit of its experience and historical perspective to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to advise the Minister on how to truly involve parents in the process.

The Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations, Inc., is a federation of over 80 local Home and School Associations and is comprised of over 4,000 member families.

The Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations, Inc., is an independent, incorporated, not for profit volunteer organization dedicated to enhancing the education and general well-being of children and youth.

The Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations, Inc., promotes the involvement of parents, students, educators and the community at large in the advancement of learning and acts as a voice for parents.

A HISTORY OF ACHIEVEMENT

 Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations
1944-2019

Home and School Creed 1947

That it should learn first-hand all school conditions and all community conditions affecting the child. That it should be a co-operative, non-partisan, non-sectarian, non-commercial effort to produce Canadian citizens who shall be capable of perpetuating the best of our national life. That it brings the men and women of the community into touch with one another, thus helping to break down prejudice and misunderstandings, and develops a common interest in the home, the school and the community.

QFHSA Mission Statement 2019

The Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations, Inc.

is an independent, incorporated, not for profit volunteer organization dedicated to enhancing the education and general well-being of children and youth.

The Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations Inc.

promotes the involvement of parents, students, educators and the community at large in the advancement of learning and acts as a voice for parents.

In 1944, the Quebec Provincial Council of Home and Schools merged with the Greater Montreal Federation of Home and School Associations to form the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA). Forty-Five (45) established Home and School associations, some already 25 years old, came together under the leadership of an outstanding group of volunteers, many of whom were prominent leaders in their communities and were infused with a strong social conscience.

First up on the agenda to address were issues related to the health and welfare of children, followed by fostering a sense of citizenship in Canadian youth, especially for new immigrants. In 1959, the Federation launched Operation Bootstraps, an ambitious study on the need for education reform in Quebec. When the government of Quebec introduced a Royal Commission of Inquiry on Education, known as the Parent Commission, the Federation was ready to present a 45,000-word brief, comprising seventeen reports, with 176 recommendations, which was praised for its outstanding coherence and insight. Many of the Commissions recommendations echoed the Federation’s brief, one of which was to set up a Department of Education. (Bill 60, 1964)

The late 60’s saw QFHSA, through its Education Committee, take on an increasing role in responding to the emerging governmental language and education legislation. Countless briefs, position statements, resolutions and actions to both the provincial and federal governments over the years have stressed the rights of parents to choose the language of instruction for their children’s education.

At the grassroots level, parents were engaged at their local school, bringing in nutrition, physical activity and cultural programs to enhance education. They championed literacy projects, hot lunch programs and manned school libraries in response to budget cutbacks.

Today, the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations is still organized on a local school basis, with a network of associations extending from the Gaspè in the east, Gatineau in the west, La Tuque in the north and North Hatley in the south. Our members assist teachers in the classroom and resource centers; they staff libraries, help supervise field trips, organize after-school extracurricular activities and, through various fundraising activities, provide schools with improved libraries, computers, lab equipment, music and art programs and opportunities for the wider community to come together through spaghetti suppers and Family Fun Days. In many and various ways, our parent volunteers not only enrich the educational experience of the children in the school but also contribute to the preservation and vitality of the English community surrounding them.

This year, QFHSA celebrates 75 years of parental involvement in education and Home and School, as a social movement, celebrates 100 years of activism in Quebec. These hard-working women and men, from over the decades, have seem many changes to the educational environment in schools, but have held fast to the main driving force of Home and School, which is to ensure the health and well-being of children and youth by foster strong connections between the home and the school.

100 years of volunteer parental involvement!  A History of Achievement, indeed!