Minister of Education, in April 1963, 60 years ago this month, the Royal Commission on Education submitted its first report to Jean Lesage, then Premier of Quebec.

A true revolutionary gesture at the time, the Parent report – named after the chairman of the commission – proposed the creation of a Ministry of Education in order, among other things, to allow the Quebec State to take charge of all schools of Quebec, and above all, to put an end to the stranglehold of the Catholic Church on education.

The implementation of the recommendations of the Parent report truly brought Quebec into modernity, beginning a cycle that would democratize education and allow thousands of young people to have free access to quality education, of Quebec territory. I would also remind you that it was in the wake of these reports (there were five) that the comprehensive schools, CEGEPs and Universities of Quebec were created. A coherent and integrated education system. Quebec style.

Sixty years later, what about the state of education in Quebec? It is clear that for the past few years the bad news has been piling up and that problems resurface almost every week.

During this time, the Superior Council of Education multiplies the studies. Researchers are looking into these many difficulties. Thousands of people toil daily in class and out of class to ensure the best possible academic progress for our children. But the picture continues to be alarming. What to do then?

Mr. Minister, over the past few months, many voices have been raised, asking the government to put in place a real collective reflection on education. A Parent Committee 2.0? Why not ? Various organizations have launched this appeal. Intellectuals such as Claude Lessard, Céline St-Pierre, Georges Leroux and even Guy Rocher, a member of the Parent Commission in the 1960s, took turns in favor of such collective reflection. Columnists or journalists such as Normand Baillargeon and Marie-Andrée Chouinard of the newspaper Le Devoir argued in favor of this idea. Why not respond positively to this call?

For a few weeks now, and for a few more months, the “Let’s talk about education” citizen forums will be held in various cities in Quebec to discuss topics as varied as “the mission of the school of today and tomorrow , the social and cultural inclusion of all school populations or the democratization of the Quebec school system in all its components”.

School staff, civic organizations, students, labor and community organizations, young people, parents, grandparents, those who care about education are invited to attend.1 Possible solutions are emerging and energies unfold during these encounters. Can you prick up your ears, Minister?

A former trade unionist comrade often used an image to show his discouragement about the possibility of real changes in education in Quebec. He regularly told me that, for too many years at the Ministry of Education, change is: “A hole, a c’ville. A hole, a city. A hole, a city”. A strong image, but unfortunately so close to reality.

Mr. Minister, in a former life not so far away, where we spent quite a lot of time with each other, you dreamed big for Quebec. Very big even. Today, you could make a difference by setting up a real collective reflection that goes beyond yet another plan concocted at the ministry or in government offices.

Want to bring education into the 21st century? Go ahead, think big, Minister.