If anything positive can be said of the long drawn-out impasse between Nova Scotia teachers and the McNeil government, it is that teachers clearly informed the general public of the often adverse and impractical guidelines, practices and conditions they often work under.
Having said that, I truly believe that there are many good things taking place in our schools, and while I would agree that some things do need to be eliminated, changed and/or improved, I do not for a moment believe that the system is broken.
The negative conditions so well expressed by so many did not become part of our educational system overnight and teachers, however frustrated they might be, should not expect to see all necessary changes happen immediately.
I believe that the two initiatives to improve the system incorporated in Bill 75 are good starting points. Hopefully, teachers will seize the opportunity to have direct input as to how the system can be improved, something that is rather rare in a system that has traditionally used the top-down approach to reforming the system. It is easier to formulate guidelines and practices when you don’t have to implement those changes at the school and/or classroom level.
I believe that teachers who will serve will do so with the attitude that the school system is responsible to assist in the development of every child, regardless of ability. This is a challenging task in some cases but perhaps more effective and innovative ways of achieving it will be implemented.
While I will not question the government’s rationale for keeping pay increases to a minimum, or the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union’s handling of negotiations, I do feel that the cancellation of a substantial number of school athletics programs under the NSSAF banner is a disservice to Nova Scotia students. Whether the government or the NSTU was right or wrong, the fact of the matter is that students had absolutely nothing to do with the dispute and they are the ones losing out. It is very unfair and I also question the NSTU’s sending out notices to its members to remind them that participating in extra-curricular activities is purely a voluntary service.
Why should teachers have to be reminded as that type of teacher involvement has always been done on a voluntary basis? Was there a subliminal message in that memo?
I will conclude by saying that the true losers in this dispute are the innocent students, especially graduating students, who are losing out on their programs, as well as those teachers who see and know the value of out-of-classroom involvement with students but who feel uncomfortable at this time to resume their involvement.
David C. Forgeron