Gov’t should listen and learn, give teachers tools they need

Opinion

To the Editor:

For many of you, this is the week when you’ll be sending your sons and daughters, or granddaughters and grandsons back to school. Maybe for the first time or maybe for the 13th time you’ll be placing your students in the hands of dedicated, professional educators and entrusting those educators to provide the best education possible.

We have to give our educators the tools they need to enable them to do what they do best and teach our children.

But, the school system has been thrown into turmoil as the McNeil government tries to reinvent education on the fly. First they refuse to listen to teachers, which leads to the first teachers strike in the province’s history. It’s a strike the government can only resolve by legislating teachers into an agreement that will likely not stand up in court. Next they decide to add pre-primary on to a system that’s already struggling to serve the students it has and struggles to find enough qualified educators to run it.

Then they use the cover of the Glaze Report to eliminate the school boards and take key decisions away from board members who answer to parents and replace them with bureaucrats who answer only to the Minister. That might be okay if stakeholders had another avenue to voice their concerns — like a standing committee on education, but it doesn’t exist.

In May the government accepted the final report on inclusion in our classrooms. That report called for nearly 200 new professionals to be added to the system and at last report, dozens of those positions remain unfilled.

We need to make sure students, all students, are the focus of all decisions in education. We need to create an environment where our students succeed. Where they graduate from high school ready to take their next step. We must give educators the resources and supports they need, and treat them as partners in education, not as pawns in a game with voters.

This is why I have called for more Education Program Assistants and a direct channel for the public to access the elected officials calling the shots — a new legislative committee. We need to listen to learn because we learn by listening.

Tim Houston

MLA, Pictou East