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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Dire education report calls for an end to province’s school boards

Changes called a “recipe for chaos” by Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union.

Posted By on Tue, Jan 23, 2018 at 4:53 PM

click to enlarge Dr. Avis Glaze details the findings of her report to media at Tuesday's press conference. - NOVA SCOTIA
  • NOVA SCOTIA
  • Dr. Avis Glaze details the findings of her report to media at Tuesday's press conference.

A new government report is calling for sweeping changes to the province’s education system.

Entitled Raise the Bar: A Coherent and Responsible Education Administration System for Nova Scotia, the document was assembled over the last year by international education advisor Avis Glaze.

Among its 22 recommendations is a proposal to eliminate all the province’s elected school boards—save for the Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial.

Instead, superintendents and local administrations would report directly to the deputy minister of Education, while the boards themselves would operate as regional education offices.

“People feel the status quo is not working,” Glaze told reporters at a press conference Tuesday, stating the boards have unclear roles of authority and are filled with officials elected by apathetic voters through acclamation.

Rather than more administration, Glaze believes a five-year period of “laser-like focus on student achievement” is necessary to improve Nova Scotia’s poor science, reading and mathematics scores.

“The children cannot wait,” she says. “There’s no reason they should be left behind. They are no less bright and no less deserving.”

Other recommendations include handing off student assessments to an independent body, enhancing roles for the councils on Mi’kmaq and African Canadian education, a transparent and predictable capital plan for funding schools and the creation of a provincial College of Educators to license, regulate and discipline teachers.

Those conclusions were reached after months of consultations with parents, educators and other stakeholders who told Glaze the provincial department of Education is out-of-touch and unwieldy.

“They felt in general that Nova Scotia is not preparing its students for the future,” she says.

The report also recommends principals and vice-principals be removed from the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union—a conclusion which brought a swift backlash from the NSTU.

“This does nothing to help students or teachers,” writes union president Liette Doucet in a press release, “all it does is create a larger centralized bureaucracy while bringing division to our schools.”

The NSTU calls Glaze’s report a “recipe for chaos” that would “bring turmoil” to the classroom.”

Doucet says plans to eliminate regional school boards are “essentially the same failed experiment” made two years ago when the province merged its nine district health authorities. She also accuses the consultant's report of simply echoing the Liberal government’s own Education Action Plan.

“It seems like much of this comes from this government’s anti-union agenda,” writes Doucet. “It’s just more of the same.”

But Glaze strongly denies being leashed to any political agenda from the province.

“If I were asked to come out here and do anything specifically, I would not have accepted this assignment,” she says.

Education minister Zach Churchill is scheduled to respond to the Raising the Bar tomorrow afternoon.

The full document is available here.

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