With Drainville, the education boat is sinking


Recently, the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, made a highly problematic remark that is sure to have repercussions in Quebec social circles. In an interview with Le Devoir newspaper, he retorted that the work of a minister was in no way comparable to that of a teacher. The comparison may seem pudgy, but it's not the comparison as such, it's the disdain he's implying for teachers who are demanding better pay at a time when MPs are voting themselves substantial pay rises: "You're really comparing the job of a teacher to the job of an MP? Are you telling me that it's comparable?


Just like a good politician who has been called to order because the statement could damage the party and cause an outcry, he retracted his statement, but the damage had already been done. Of course he'd like teachers to be better paid. But certainly not in the same way as MPs have allowed themselves their own increases, no. Of course it's going to be on the negotiating table between the teachers and the government, whereas all the MPs had to do was bring out a motion to get it done quickly and without chaos. What good timing to be talking about the new reform the Minister is working on to improve teacher practices and training, when the spotlight is instead on his own mistakes.

Since the first election, the CAQ has presented itself as the party that would save education in Quebec. We can confirm that the gamble it proposed is far from being a winning one. Since the CAQ came to power, not all of its proposals have worked: we can think of 4-year-old kindergarten, which will ultimately be too expensive; the poor state of schools, which Mr. Legault will rather deny; teachers who are jumping ship for lack of support; teaching assistants, hired in dribs and drabs to fit into budgets; and this latest reform project on school governance, giving more powers to the Minister of Education. This reform will be no more than another way for the government to get a stranglehold on the running of school centers, in the same way as the previous government's reforms to centralize the healthcare system, which were a fiasco, let's not forget.

It's no secret that the CAQ has never agreed with the positions of the Conseil supérieur de l'Éducation. So, what better way to avoid it than to give itself more power so as to avoid having to follow their advice? We can only wonder whether democratic bodies in education are not losing precious powers to a government that wants to control the education system better (or rather, in their own way).

One thing remains certain about what's happening in education at the moment, and that is that this is a major step backwards for democracy that we need to address as a society. At what point will we let the government appropriate powers that it is taking away from citizens, and in the end do nothing to improve the state of education when the ship is definitely sinking?

Mélissa Arbour
Green Party of Quebec education spokesperson


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