Focusing on our Classrooms- Time to hit the Brakes and Recalibrate

focusing_on_classrooms-03.png

Parents and caregivers, prepare yourselves for another walkout by our province’s educators, because government has once again forced a deadlock.

I’m calling for Government to immediately halt the implementation of the Glaze report and answer some important questions. Click here to sign my petition. 

In the weeks following the release of Dr. Avis Glaze’s report, “Raise the Bar”, the education sector’s most important stakeholders – parents and students – have borne witness to what can best be described as a shouting match between our Provincial Government and the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union (NSTU).

Nova Scotian families are confused, bewildered and left trying to make sense of reactive messaging and heightened rhetoric.

I’ve said before and I truly believe that you cannot find a solution unless you’re honest about the problem. This is what is happening here.

The lack of transparency from government about the current state of our education system and the inability to directly acknowledge the concerns from those working on the front lines has resulted in the situation we are witnessing now.

As for some of the questions…

What is the overarching strategy?

Since the first teachers’ strike in the history of Nova Scotia, our provincial government came out quickly to announce a Council on Classroom Conditions, a Commission on Inclusive Education, and plans to conduct an education system administrative review – all in one year.

In addition to the initiatives to supposedly address some of the concerns being raised by NSTU, our government made the decision seemingly out of nowhere to implement a province-wide pre-primary program to the tune of over $55 million. The roll-out was rushed, lacked proper consultation and thus received the anticipated backlash.

Ambitious? Yes. Pragmatic? No.

How do these three significant undertakings tie in with one another? What are the objectives in place? And how will the findings be evaluated?

What is the collective pricetag for each of these initiatives, and how are we paying for them?

Right now, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development operates with a budget of $1.3 billion. That amount covers the costs associated with educating approximately 118,000 Nova Scotian students

Which begs a few more questions – primarily, how are we making decisions like implementing pre-primary and accepting all of Dr. Glaze’s recommendations before we have seen the final findings from the Council on Classroom Conditions and the report from the Commission on Inclusive Education? That’s budgeting 101, and Nova Scotians have a right to be confused.

What is the cost associated with implementing Glaze’s recommendations?

Is there an understanding of how much more the Council on Classroom Conditions will propose spending to address their concerns?

Have we put aside funds to anticipate the significant investment it will take to implement the recommendations put forward by the Commission on Inclusive Education?  

Why are we throwing out the school boards with the bath water?

When it comes to our education system – I believe in giving more autonomy to individual schools and the School Advisory Committees. Boards have been allowed to assume far more power than necessary – some of that power needs to be pulled and handed back to the community where they belong. Have we compared the cost of revamping the school board system to the cost of blowing it up entirely?

What are the government’s priorities for improving a broken education system?

The priority right now should be making things better for our children in the classroom, not finding ways to create a wedge issue and further mobilize the teaching community against government.  The recommendation and decision to follow-through on moving school principals out of the NSTU was not necessary, doesn’t directly impact our students and only serves to further anger our educators who wish to remain united.

These are only a few of the questions I have, and I know there are hundreds of others being asked at grassroots townhalls being held across Nova Scotia, well-written posts on social media, and amongst parents at school drop-off.

I shouldn’t have to tell government that their decisions aren’t translating to Nova Scotians, they have plenty of communications staff to do that.

I am asking for them to consider the long-term impact of their short-sighted thinking, and respectively recommending that they hit the brakes and recalibrate.

Our students have one shot at an education, and they’re counting on us.  

Sign up for Tim's e-newsletter