Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Friday, February 17, 2006

Education Politics in Quebec

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The Quebec education system is underfunded. By that, I don't mean post-secondary education needs more dollars, I mean that grade schools are chronically underfunded. Consider the following points.
  1. My mother teaches at a public elementary with 600 students. There is no money for a paid librarian, and the social worker that is trained to deal with psychologically troubled kids is there for a half/day a week. Naturally, that's hardly enough time to deal with all the troubled kids, who are plentiful there for demographic reasons.
  2. After a career in education, my mother still earns the average Canadian salary of about $60,000/year. She has a masters in education. For whatever reason, seniority stops counting towards raises after 16 years. My mom's 35 years of service are only important for her to be able to get a better pension.
  3. To gain admission to study education at McGill University in 2004/2005 (the most recent data I have; it's unlikely to have changed since), one needed a 24 or 25 R-Score (CRC), depending on specializing. 25 means a student is exactly average, while 24 is below average. The situation is similar at other Quebec universities.
  4. There is a severe lack of elementary teachers in Quebec.
  5. The Charest government just passed a back-to-work law ordering public-sector unions, including teachers' unions, to stop striking and return to work. The law ended negotiations, imposing a raise of 12% over 8 years, including monies that were owed from another issue (salary equity), thus essentially counting each dollar paid as two payments.
  6. This is amidst a "reform" of the grade-school educational system that has been proving to be a catastrophic failure, which Charest and co. are desperately trying to cover up (La Presse reported that people had to use the access-to-information law to force the Ministry of Education to hand over documents on the reform).
For all these reasons and more, we need to put money into primary education. Funding post-secondary education is unimportant if people hate school from an early age because it's staffed at least partly by barely average people.

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