Pictou-Advocate-opinion

Time to return to the bargaining table

Opinion

To the Editor:

Premier MacNeil continues to play politics with our children’s education and future. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union had a resounding 96% rejection of the Liberal Government’s last offer.
The NSTU requested that both sides return to the bargaining table and attempt to work out some issues through conciliation.

However, MacNeil’s Liberals refused to entertain this request. Instead the Premier and Education Minister demanded that the teacher’s union send them a list of issues prior to any opportunity of agreeing to return to the bargaining table.

The Minister wants the NSTU to sign the government’s offer and afterwards they would strike a committee to look at the classroom concerns. WHY? The teachers do not trust the government.

They are tired of committees. Let’s get to the table and talk about the real issues facing classroom teachers every single day. Teachers are also tired of top down initiatives. They are tired of committees created where they do not have a voice. Instead, they are on the receiving end. Do more with less.

As I write this letter I have been informed that the NSTU sent a request tonight, (Thursday evening) to the government for a mediator to assist in settling key issues. Hopefully, the Premier will stop using tax payer’s dollars to create ads to dispel any teacher’s issues and concerns and return to the table immediately.

I had the opportunity to talk about the potential teacher’s strike in my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne on Thursday afternoon in the Legislature. My main focus was to talk about the real issues which stem from eroding classroom supports, coupled with ever increasing demands on teachers.

Teachers have so much data to input that they will soon need robots to do this while they find the time to engage and teach students.

There is an urgent need for open dialogue and a serious discussion about classroom supports for students and teachers.It is time to back off and place a freeze on any new initiatives. Give teachers an opportunity to receive proper professional development on the numerous initiatives that arrived on their desk during the past two years.

If the Liberal Government would like to decide where to start. Let me help. Create an attendance policy that is meaningful and realistic. Students should be attending class and engaging with their peers. Secondly, create a Discipline Policy with some teeth. For far too long, teachers and administrators have been left floundering in their environment without any concrete guidelines or support from the Department of Education to address these issues.

There is no cost factor to be concerned about with these two issues. Tackling the complexity of the classroom can be next on their agenda.

It’s time the Premier realizes that this potential teacher disruption could have serious repercussions for thousands of Nova Scotia students. Time to demonstrate some leadership and get both sides back to the table and talk about the realities facing today’s teachers.

Pat Dunn
MLA, Pictou Centre

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