At a time when everyone is preparing to empty their desks and their lockers only to return to the school gates in August, the announcements in education are piling up. We are four professors who contribute to the training of specialist teachers in the network, ie those who work with students who have academic difficulties or with special needs. Three news items recently caught our attention.
The first concerns the “School Personnel Development Strategy 2022-2026”, launched on May 31, with a budget of $140 million. Is ‘school staff’ a new synonym for teachers, professionals and support staff? Remember that their roles are very different in supporting student learning and success, but successful coordination of their actions is not always possible. Do we want to promote the teaching profession, the public school system or all actors here? These are separate topics, all of which deserve careful consideration.
Another news item concerns a report by the Québec Ombudsman that the provision of additional educational services (remedial education, psychoeducation, speech therapy, special education, psychology) is underfunded and imposes endless delays on parents, forcing them to to private services. † The Minister of Education objects that a new funding model will soon free up 375,000 hours of bureaucracy for direct student facilities. In this way, the network keeps the same number of professionals, but frees them from certain forms.
Faced with the complexity of needs, the accounting calculation of bureaucratic hours as a strategy is a very simplistic solution. How can we really strengthen the capacity of schools in Quebec to support these students? In this regard, there are well-documented solutions for coordinating and organizing interventions and services around students.
However, the Minister of Education rather recalls the success of his “Repondez present” campaign, which invites any holder of a baccalaureate degree in a discipline taught directly or indirectly in school to come and work there. Will almost any degree become a guarantee of skills to teach or provide additional educational services? Something like that, accepted in education, would not be accepted elsewhere. We would like to hear from members of other professions on this matter.
In the eyes of the minister, is the knowledge of teachers so indistinguishable from that of any other adult with a different baccalaureate degree or even a high school diploma?
The third news brings back the spotlight on the Commission for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (CAPFE), the commission responsible for analyzing the quality of programs leading to the legal qualification to teach. Again, the Minister of Education approved new abbreviated programs without getting the recommendation from CAPFE. However, this committee is made up of primary and secondary school teachers, academics and school professionals, the people we want to promote. According to the ministry, this decision was made in “the interest of Quebecers”. But when, exactly, did Quebecers ask for patents while ignoring the quality of the training?
The colors of the Minister of Education are clearly displayed. The development of education by the players in the network may be financed, but the minister has nothing to do with the knowledge of the people who receive a certificate and who will teach everyone, young and old, with or without school difficulties.
As with the massive opening of 4-year kindergartens, it is not the quality that is being pursued here, but the quantity, regardless of the working conditions, the development and learning of the students, nor the rigorous training required for this. However, the minister and his ministry have just published a new reference system for professional teaching skills, evoking the complexity and importance of the knowledge gained in initial training about the disciplines and training programs, didactics and pedagogy, students and the learning process.
In short, despite his official policies and strategies, the minister wants to produce a large number of certified “academic staff” as soon as possible, regardless of the quality of the training and the conditions of entry into the profession.
So it will always cost less to offer them a campaign to promote them.