The CAQ ignores the crucial needs of education and downplays the work of teachers


The start of the new school year is well underway for most of our children, and it's time for some observations. Before the summer, I was already pointing out the problems in education, in particular the lack of consideration shown by the Ministry of Education towards teachers in terms of salary conditions and the support offered to them. And yet, we have seen (and are still seeing) the repercussions of poor management in education during this back-to-school period. 

Unfortunately, the consequences of this poor management are being cruelly felt as the new school year gets underway. It is clear that the problems in education are recurrent and remain unaddressed, despite the evidence that the recipe is not working. Yet education was one of the CAQ's declared priorities, along with closing the productivity gap with Ontario, an objective that inevitably requires investment in human capital (education and training). Since the start of the new school year, many voices have been raised to address the various issues that are currently being felt. 

Firstly, and still today, there is a shortfall of over 1,300 teachers to fill positions for the current school year. Although the government has congratulated itself on having halved the number of positions to be filled  However, Minister Drainville still can't guarantee that there will be an adult  for all classes. So the government "went ahead" and reiterated its request to postpone retirement, while accepting as the "new reality" the fact that teachers are not legally authorized to teach, i.e. without a teaching certificate. This decision has caused an uproar in the education community, and rightly so: not only is the government turning a deaf ear to the needs and demands of the network, but it continues to denigrate teachers and their work by accepting that anyone with a bachelor's degree in hand can teach our children to make up for the shortage of teachers. 

In reality, it must be recognized that the reasons for this shortage are far more serious than the mere possession of a teaching certificate, just as it is crucial to understand why a teaching certificate is a guarantee of quality. Teachers are demanding better working conditions, as well as better learning conditions for their students. They sometimes become discouraged by the lack of support and poor conditions, and leave the profession.

It should also be noted that the teaching certificate is a guarantee of a teacher's quality: it's proof that he or she has taken courses in the subject to be taught, as well as in didactics and classroom management. We should also remind him that teachers have to pass the TECFÉ to certify their knowledge of the written, read and spoken French language. This is no mean feat in the circumstances we find ourselves in with regard to our students' results in French, among other things.

Secondly, teachers were forced to revert to pre-pandemic assessment methods and the number of report cards, without being consulted on these arrangements. While a return to normality is not in itself a bad thing, the way it was implemented raises legitimate questions on the part of teachers. One teacher rightly raised the issue in La Presse of this backlash without a progressive return, and she predicts a significant failure rate in the future. Certainly, the aim is not to level down. 

However, we have to realize that the years of the pandemic have left marks that are difficult to erase in one fell swoop. The experts agree with the teacher, specifying that returning to the assessments as they were would not solve the problem, but rather make it worse. Rather, they believe that the Ministry should revise the program to clearly identify what skills need to be acquired and how, rather than focusing on assessments, which have a detrimental effect through the level of stress they can cause. Teachers appreciated the reduction in the number of report cards, and assessments for that matter, so that they could concentrate on learning rather than on preparing for assessments. It has to be said that the Ministry of Education's decisions on this subject are also controversial, especially as they were taken without consulting the main stakeholders.

 The Ministry of Education, and therefore the CAQ, may well claim that education is a government priority, but their actions seem to indicate quite the opposite. Despite the fine promises of improved educational services and the goodwill to improve student success, the government seems to be forgetting the basics of the equation. By ignoring the realities on the ground and the repercussions of its decisions on the community, it is only showing us that numbers are more important than people, that appearances are worth much more than real improvement, and that this government is nothing more than a government of businessmen who want to manage their "PME nation québécoise".

Mélissa Arbour
Green Party of Quebec education spokesperson


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