English school board heads defend their schools

The chairmen of the English schools boards on the island defend the French-language teaching their schools provide.
Lester B. Pearson School Board chairman Suanne Stein Day (left) and English Montreal School Board chairman Angela Mancini discuss education with Daybreak host Mike Finnerty. (CBC)

The chairmen of the two English school boards in Montreal give the French-language teaching in their schools an A-plus.

Still, Quebec's anglophone population is divided when it comes to deciding whether to send their children to English or French school, a CBC commissioned EKOS poll suggests.

While 39 per cent of respondents said their children would be better off at a French school, Angela Mancini of the English Montreal School Board and Suanne Stein Day of the Lester B. Pearson School Board believe their schools offer equal French-language teaching.

"We are graduating kids at the highest rate, between our two school boards, in the province and we are graduating them bilingually," Stein-Day said on CBC Montreal’s Daybreak.

Mancini said the school boards have their work cut out for them when it comes to convincing parents to send their children to English schools.

"Certainly we know there are a lot of parents who have chosen to send their children to a French school," she said.

"They have to visit our schools. I would invite parents to come in and speak to our principals, speak to some of the teachers and students themselves because they can get a feel of what we are showing our students in the classroom. That’s the best seller we can have."

Stein Day says the school boards are losing fewer students to the French schools but that they need to work in order to keep the students they have.

"In order to maintain (our) success and the creativity in our programs, we need the critical mass so we need to maintain (what we have)," she said.

"But what we really fighting for is Quebec because we believe that in order to live, work and succeed in Quebec, you do need to be bilingual, not just French."