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LETTER: Education issues need attention

We are looking forward to getting back into the House of Assembly to hold the Liberals accountable for our crumbling education system. We’ve taken our time to carefully consider the recent report on education. While some ideas merit discussion and debate others are a distraction from the real problems that plague our classrooms.

The McNeil Liberals want to have a conversation about the makeup of school boards and union management. They want all of us talking about what they might do. When the Legislature returns and we see what they actually bring forward, we will have that discussion. And, we will stick to what really matters: improving the classroom experience and supports for our students.

When I was a history and political science teacher, my students would discuss ideas and material that were complicated and controversial. I expected my students to listen and be respectful to the arguments from their fellow students. The conversation on education reform has become one-sided. Premier McNeil and Minister Churchill are not listening. They lack respect for parents and educators, they lack leadership.

As an MLA, a former classroom teacher, and the PC Education critic, I feel it is my responsibility to listen and help redirect the conversation back to what matters most and to hold the Liberal government accountable for fixing the classrooms.

Our classrooms need a dramatic overhaul. Imagine if the provincial government spent the last five years improving supports for our diverse learners, like increasing the number of TAs and EPAs and providing them with the training and resources they need. Imagine if the focus was on curriculum reform, improving math and literacy rates, and putting vocational training back in every school in the province. Imagine if the McNeil government’s energy was devoted to getting mental health professionals in every school where children need them. That would be much more productive than these distractions manufactured by the Liberal government.

We expect government legislation on education in the upcoming session. We will take our time in the House to debate and challenge the direction Premier McNeil is taking our province. In the coming weeks, we will be listening to parents, teachers, students, and others to prepare.

The Liberals may wish to practise the politics of divisiveness. The Progressive Conservative Party will continue to fight to improve classrooms and provide the education system our students so rightfully deserve.

I hope you can join PC leader Karla MacFarlane and me for a town hall on education. This will be hosted by the Dartmouth East PC Association on Monday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m. at the Woodlawn United Church. This will be an opportunity for parents and teachers, students and principals, community members and stakeholders to help redirect the conversation back to what really matters – fixing the classroom.

Karla MacFarlane and I hope to see you there!

Tim Halman

MLA Dartmouth East

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