Today I join my PC Caucus colleagues as we head back into the Legislature for the spring sitting. Despite being an MLA for four years now, I am always mindful of the great honour it is to hold a seat in our House of Assembly, and the significant responsibility I hold as the representative for Pictou East.
Every member of the Legislature, across party lines, understands that this session is going to be challenging.
There will be many issues debated, and many concerns brought forward from the communities we represent across Nova Scotia, but the issue top-of-mind for many Nova Scotians is of course our education system.
Earlier this month I called for the government to pause their plans to implement the Glaze report. My objective with that ask was to allow for more thoughtful, considerate and deliberate communications with the people who matter most in this debate – students, parents and teachers.
The bottom line is that people can’t make sense of the messages being fired from each side, which is why I believe it’s well past time to get everyone in the same room, and open the conversations up to the public.
Government believes that the recommendations they wish to implement from Dr. Glaze’s report are the very best thing for our educators and students? Tell us why.
The NSTU believes the Government isn’t prioritizing the right things and that these changes to administration will have a negative effect on service delivery? Tell us why.
This isn’t a complex ask, folks.
Invite stakeholders. Invite the media. Put two chairs up on a stage. Hold a two-way discussion to present your positions and shoot down inaccuracies.
There is a lot of confusion out there. Parents are trying to make sense of what the Glaze Report is really calling for, what the impacts will be, how much it will cost – and perhaps most importantly, how it ties into this government’s plans to get direct supports for our classrooms, and for the students who need it the most.
We’re told in the FAQs on the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development that the Council on Classroom Conditions, Dr. Glaze’s Report and the Commission on Inclusive Education all link together.
Then we’re told by that Department’s Minister that the initiatives “Are not necessarily connected.”
We’re told by the government that a provincial college of educators would provide for more accountability in regulating the teaching profession.
However I'm hearing parents are being given a different message from members of the Teacher's Union – that teachers would be publicly accused of negative actions without due process.
See the confusion?
Minister Churchill has gone on a road show across the province to meet with stakeholders about the Glaze Report, and in other parts of Nova Scotia town halls have been hosted by the NSTU to share their interpretation of the Report and its implications.
At the same time, there are meetings behind closed doors between the head of the NSTU, Liette Doucette and Premier Stephen McNeil with little to no information being shared with the public about those discussions.
No wonder Nova Scotians can’t make sense of just what is going on with our education system.
At the beginning of February I delivered a speech to members of the Progressive Conservative Party at our AGM. In those remarks I asserted that can’t find a solution unless you’re transparent about the problem AND unless you challenge your own ideas and perspectives.
I also stated that leadership often means showing courage under fire and not avoiding the tough issues.
This is where the rubber meets the proverbial road for our Premier and the head of the NSTU.
The teachers, the parents and most importantly the students, deserve this leadership to be shown.
Off to the Legislature, I'll keep you all posted.