I could retire tomorrow if I had a quarter for every person who asked me last week if I was going to write about the Glaze report.
I figured there were enough thought pieces already in the mix, so I didn’t want to clutter the Internet with mine. At the end of the day, though, it would be disingenuous of me to avoid a topic that is on the forefront of my mind, of such crucial importance to our kids, and that needs all the attention and support it can get.
The short version of events is this: the government commissioned a report to study the administrative structure of the education system and make recommendations based on its findings. Eleven of the 22 recommendations were adopted by the Department of Education the day after the report’s release. The teachers are upset with the recommendations, the government is firm on its implementation decision, and we find ourselves in largely the same combative position we were in this time last year, with no resolution in sight.
I have read the entire Glaze report. I get that there are pros and cons. I understand the issues the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union has with having its principals and vice-principals removed from the union. I also understand the government’s assertions that sweeping change has to include structural, foundational changes in order for positive reform to trickle down to more practical applications, even if that reform is uncomfortable at first and difficult to navigate. Those conversations, and others having to do with the content of the report, are understandably complicated and contentious.
I don’t think, however, that the dissonance has nearly as much to do with the content of the Glaze report as it does what’s missing from it.
I don’t know a single teacher who is up in arms about the content of that report, truly I don’t. I think what they’re upset about is the lack of progress made with improving the education system in practical, tangible ways that help their students. Your kids, my kids, and their kids. That’s what they’re fighting for.
These teachers – our friends and sisters and neighbours – they are angry and frustrated that they fought so hard last year to make their classrooms more productive and peaceful, only to have their fight be framed as a ploy for wage increases. They are disheartened that their solidarity was not rewarded with the support needed to elect a new government at election time. They are exhausted because the promises made this time last year have yielded as little improvement as they predicted, and absolutely nothing has changed in their classrooms.
How much of those struggles did the Glaze report address? None. That’s why the teachers are upset. They’re prioritizing your children, and the government is prioritizing governance restructuring.
Adding insult to injury, less than 24-hours’ worth of analysis was performed before it was announced the 11 recommendations would be implemented within just a few weeks. I’m sorry, but the turnaround time for any change in government policy, however minor, is an odyssey that takes months and years and requires a million consultations and memos and closed-door sessions and delays; how can this government claim that thorough consideration and consultation of a complete reform of our education framework – was accomplished in a day? That the logistics of implementation of this reform can be properly organized within a few weeks? It’s no wonder that our province’s educators (all of whom, it’s worth noting, are more educated than the Premier or the education minister) are incredulous to the proposed changes. That’s why over 80 per cent of them voted to illegally strike, if necessary.
If the education department wanted to consult with experts on education reform, they have the willing and eager expertise of Nova Scotia’s teachers at their disposal. They could have drafted a free report that would have addressed how to improve classroom conditions for students and change the status-quo from the inside. Happier, safer, more productive, more peaceful classrooms result in happier, more productive, more peaceful students. That is the teachers’ end game. There is no wage package on the line to use against them this time around – they are fighting for your kids. They are risking serious career and financial repercussions in the name of students, present and future.
I have no idea what will happen with the Glaze report, if the teachers will strike, or what the education system will look like this time next month. All I know is that the big picture has little to do with some report, and everything to do with prioritizing kids over bureaucracy.
I choose to be on the right side of that, and I hope other parents do, too.