Meeting the Deputy Minister of Education

On Thursday, September 9, 2015, a special one hour meeting was held between members of the LCEEQ steering committee and newly-appointed Deputy-Minister, Mme Sylvie Barcelo. Mme Barcelo was interested in learning more about the role and function of LCEEQ in order to effectively advocate and intervene on its behalf.

Ms. Cindy Finn, chairperson of LCEEQ, spoke at length about the uniqueness of the committee, emphasizing both the sense of community among all members, as well as the diversity and variety of perspectives offered by the thirty-plus members who sit at the LCEEQ table. Noted was the fact that the LCEEQ membership includes all strata of the English educational community : youth, adult and post-secondary educators; administrators and consultants; union and school board representatives; and a variety of partners, including MEESR – all of whom have a voice at the table.

While some comparisons were made between LCEEQ and other consultative groups, such as the Advisory Board of English Education (ABEE), Ms. Finn was quick to point out that, while LCEEQ did offer advice and counsel on various matters, the committee also provided a forum to exchange ideas and information, as well as addressing issues and topical concerns shared by its members. LCEEQ often highlights what is new and current, extending beyond the boundaries of Montreal, Quebec City and even the province.

At the core of LCEEQ is the success of students, according to Ms. Finn : factors which impact their overall success; what is essential in maintaining and promoting success; and, what challenges are felt by the English educational community. Student success remains at the heart of LCEEQ’s mandate and is reflected in its Strategic Plan, which Mme Barcelo was invited to review.

Ms. Finn was quick to point out that, while challenges are felt across the province, issues of enrollment, budget cuts, and, reduction in services have a profound impact on the Anglophone educational community. Nevertheless LCEEQ has helped foster a culture of partnership as a means of combatting disparity. Finding solutions through creativity and collaboration has become a critical feature of LCEEQ’s role, reflecting the strength and tenacity of the Anglophone educational community at large. As Ms. Finn pointed out, our goal is to <make things work>, despite the obstacles felt by all.

When asked about activities the committee embarks upon, it was noted that LCEEQ continues to play a key role in professional development, and, availability and accessibility of resources for Anglophone educators. This void has long been a preoccupation of the English educational community, and Ms. Finn indicated that LCEEQ has recently undertaken strategies to address this ongoing need, including continuation of the annual conference in February, projects to support pedagogical development, as well as a newly-designed website featuring professional development activities offered by organizations across the province.

The meeting ended with a question posed by Mme Barcelo as to how to define “Anglophone community”, giving pause to all present. This question was addressed in part throughout the meeting, but remains one for the membership to revisit as LCEEQ continues to (re)evaluate itself and its role in relation to the ever-present needs of the English education community it represents.