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Time to ‘raise the bar’ in education

['Commentary with Geoff deGannes']
['Commentary with Geoff deGannes']

Commentary with Geoff deGannes

We probably shouldn’t be surprised that the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the McNeil Liberal Government are butting heads once again.  This time the NSTU and its President Liette Doucet are unhappy with the fact the provincial government has accepted all of the recommendations of the Avis Glaze report on reform of the education system in the province.

The report was released Jan. 23 and the province accepted it in its entirety the next day. Doucet believes the government is making some hasty decisions without consulting the teachers union or the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions, which was set up following the Liberal Government’s election win last year.

The council was established with the intention of addressing concerns teachers have repeatedly voiced about the workplace. It includes nine teachers, a guidance counsellor, a student, a parent, the province's deputy education minister and the executive director of the NSTU.

As a result, Doucet announced last week that out of protest, the NSTU is ending its participation on the council which means the executive director will be stepping away from the table. That is most unfortunate and I would hope the teachers who are a part of that council won’t follow suit. Although there is speculation they may face pressure from their union executive to discontinue their involvement. 

While the most contentious recommendation of the Glaze Report is the elimination of the province’s elected school boards, the report also calls for the removal of principals and vice-principals and other teachers who have supervisory duties from the NSTU.  The NSTU president strongly objects to that recommendation citing her concern they would take on a more managerial role in the schools and as Doucet was quoted as saying on CTV News the other night, principals and vice principals “are not meant to manage.”

I would suggest her biggest concern is that it means the rank and file of her membership will be depleted by about 10 per cent. There is also push back from Doucet over the call for the creation of a new licensing and governing body for the teaching profession, a provincial College of Educators. 

The aim, according to Glaze, is to take weak teachers out of the classroom and provide them a chance to improve their skills or get rid of those who can't. Most other professions are subject to such governance and standards, so why not the teaching profession?

Despite the Glaze Report recommendations, I believe the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions still has an important role to play in reforming the education system and teachers should and must be at the table. 

I also believe there is still plenty of room for dialog and discussion when it comes to tweaking the details of any proposed reforms coming from the Glaze Report recommendations.  

Change is difficult to accept, but as education consultant Avis Glaze suggests with the title of her report, it is time to “Raise the Bar” in this province in the best interests of those it is intended to serve, the students.

Geoff deGannes is the past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.

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