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Minister Churchill to meet parents across province to discuss education plan

Education Minister Zach Churchill promised Thursday to meet with parents and teachers across Nova Scotia and listen to their concerns over the Glaze Report, which proposes a major overhaul for the education system.

Churchill’s tour comes after the government decided to implement the report by education consultant Dr. Avis Glaze. Her findings call for elected regional school boards to be scrapped and the removal of principals and vice-principals from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.

In her report, Glaze said that a teachers college should oversee licensing and discipline issues.

“We are committed to strengthening our education system to help more of our students succeed. Dr. Glaze's report presented a clear path forward. As we follow that path we will continue to listen to teachers, parents and other partners,” said Churchill in an emailed statement to media Thursday.

The proposed changes have met pushback from the NSTU, which has called a strike vote for Feb. 20.

Opposition to the government’s plans are also mounting locally. Local parents are meeting next Tuesday at the Pictou County Wellness Centre to discuss the Glaze Report.

But Churchill said there had been “good discussion” with principals about removing them from the NSTU, together with their deputies.

As a result, any staff in a supervisory role in schools are to decide whether they want to remain in their current role, or stay in the NSTU and return to the classroom.

“We are committed to strengthening our education system to help more of our students succeed. Dr. Glaze's report presented a clear path forward. As we follow that path we will continue to listen to teachers, parents and other partners,” said Churchill.

The minister added that while the proposal for a student progress assessment office wasn't one the government would work on at once, the issue had been raised by teachers this week.

“I want to reassure teachers that any changes involving student assessment will not be part of the spring legislation,” said Churchill.

However, scrapping elected school boards in favour of an advisory council will require a vote in legislature to change Nova Scotia’s Education Act.

All told, the Glaze report holds 22 recommendations for education reform, all of which the government aims to implement. Work on implementing 11 of these recommendations is already underway.

While the province and NSTU are seemingly at loggerheads over the Glaze Report, the two sides are still talking.

The threat of labour action by teachers comes just over one year after they launched work to rule from late 2016 to early 2017.

The previous labour disruption occurred after teachers voted against a new collective agreement between the NSTU and province in fall 2016.

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