To the Editor:
Nova Scotia teachers have been without a contract for 18 months. The fact that this government would have to participate in contract negotiations with the union was no surprise. What is surprising is that the government was clearly not prepared. The events of last week are truly disheartening.
Confusion and chaos were the words of the day when the government decided to introduce Bill 75, legislation that would never have stood up when challenged in the Supreme Court of Canada. The expense of having all MLAs spend a day in Halifax before finally backtracking and returning to the negotiating table for a third time is something that taxpayers cannot afford. This is money that would have been better spent in the education budget.
Unfortunately, it’s not only the negotiations with the teachers that the Liberal government and Department of Education has mismanaged. On November 30, Auditor General Michael Pickup tabled his fall report and it revealed that although a number of schools are under review, including the three Pictou schools and NRHS in Alma, a new $21 million school has been approved for Eastern Passage despite no data supporting it. Four additional projects, worth $63 million, were also approved by the Liberal cabinet, despite being ranked lower in need as compared to some other schools in the province. Two of these are new P-12 schools to be located in Minister Karen Casey’s riding of Colchester North and Premier Stephen McNeil’s riding of Annapolis, both approved without a school review process.
Perhaps the SOC should consider a request for a new P-12 school as an option for the Town of Pictou in its presentation to the Chignecto Central Regional School Board.
The irresponsible direction this government is leading us demonstrates a lack of a real strategy for effective classroom reform and questionable decision making when spending tax payers’ money in regards to education. I have spoken with too many teachers, parents and students who tell me that the current system is not working.
It is time to get back to the negotiating table, it is time to dig our heels in and focus on classroom reform, it is time to remember this is taxpayers’ money that is being spent, and it is time to put children first.
MLA, Pictou West