The Gazette April 13, 2011

A majority of EMSB commissioners is trying to put parents to sleep. Since March 30, they have put 10 schools on the block for closing and have hidden themselves behind a questionable “process of consultation.”

Faced with widespread outrage at a process that has been characterized as illegitimate, incoherent and of questionable legality, and mired as well with constituents openly making insinuations of collusion between various parties, some EMSB commissioners are making a last-ditch effort to save their reputations and credibility.

This effort, however, is not likely to impress because it rests on a self-serving and frankly insulting argument: “Let’s keep going. We shouldn’t waste what we’ve done.”

So what exactly have they done so far? They have decided on the fates of schools with no consultation, criteria divorced from the objective interests of the community, and with only the shallowest pretense of transparency. And they are giving every sign that they will continue to do so.

In a Gazette article (“Review closings, EMSB urged,” April 11), commissioner Syd Wise declared that going back to square one would be “ludicrous.” He affirmed that there was enough “good will, good sense and talent” among commissioners to make “reasonable” judgments.

This is his opinion, but it neatly avoids the issues actually at stake.

Fundamentally, the problem is that what is needed is not “reasonable judgments.” What is needed is a process far more complex, forwardthinking and considerate of the true needs of the Englishspeaking community than what is being served up by the majority of commissioners.

The lack of rigour in the discussions is reflected by the inconsistency in many of the commissioners’ positions. For starters, their voting records don’t always reflect the positions they’ve taken or arguments made at meetings.

There was very little discussion of the merits of individual schools or the role they play in maintaining the vigour of a community or providing excellence in education. It is actually questionable why any schools at all need to be closed: the board enjoys a surplus, and hasn’t even looked at options such as school-sharing with other boards as a way to create viability. Instead of thinking creatively, the game many of the commissioners seem to be playing, simply put, is: You give me my school and I’ll help you save yours.

What kind of example is this for children?

Parents are demanding to see the criteria being used to evaluate schools, and to be given a fair chance to defend their school before it is put to sleep through the so-called public consultation process.

Many commissioners are continuing to ignore the parents at the centre of these issues, and this is completely unacceptable. Democracy is not just a matter of doing what one feels like doing as soon as one is elected.

Representatives need to show far more responsibility when making decisions than has been demonstrated to date.

We propose that commissioners are wasting their time trying to put us to sleep with hypnosis. We see the game, and we don’t accept it.

Julie Barlow Jean-François Desmarais Sam Benahmed

Parents of children at Nesbitt Elementary School Rosemont

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette