Do the Work to Put Students First

This past week the Commission on Inclusive Education released its anticipated report, Students First: Inclusive Education that Supports Teaching, Learning, and the Success of all Nova Scotia Students.

It is disturbing that the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development's commitment to acting on the report’s recommendations is lukewarm at best. This is in stark contrast to the bravado Minister Churchill displayed in response to the Glaze Report; when the expert told him what he wanted to hear, he immediately said he’d follow through.

Cut to his scrum after the release of the Inclusion report where his strongest take-away was just how dang hard it would be to recruit the specialists that are needed for the next school year in September.

This isn’t brand new information.

Parents and teachers have been ringing the alarm that we need more specialists in the classroom for decades.

The Minister knows this plain and simple. His office is decorated with the ghosts of education reports past – none of which have been fully acted upon.

The same Minister who had the "just watch me" swagger in the fall when asked how he could pull together the right staff for pre-primary in a little over a month is now shrugging his shoulders and appearing to throw in the towel. It’s a remarkable transformation from Bob the Builder to Eeyore in the span of six months.

We’re looking at this backwards; this investment isn’t a drain on our finances, it’s an opportunity to drive our economy.

We have young people fleeing Nova Scotia in droves for opportunities elsewhere - show them the potential they would have by staying here. Show them that they’d have a job.

I am calling on Premier McNeil and Minister Churchill to immediately establish a working group made up of senior staff from the Department of Education and senior officials from Mount Saint Vincent University and the Nova Scotia Community College. The mandate should be to develop a strategy and implementation plan to make sure we have the right programming in place to atract young Nova Scotians and have them graduate with the qualifications they need to grab-up those specialist jobs and stay right here at home.

In the short-term Minister Churchill should be charged with coming up with a plan to establish and implement financial incentives for those outside of the Province to come to Nova Scotia for the 2018-2019 school year to immediately fill the number of roles outlined by the Commission on Inclusive Education.

This is when a government needs to step-up and show some guts and leadership.

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