Two Bills Would Set New Rules for Teacher Certification and Private Universities
Department of Education (to March 26, 2013)
May 10, 2006 3:08 PM
Two education bills were introduced in the legislature today, May 10. One would change the way a person's suitability to hold a teacher's certificate is assessed and the other would change how institutions receive authority to grant degrees.
"The expanded corrective and reporting measures we are proposing today reflect the province's commitment to ensuring that our schools are safe for students," said Jamie Muir, Minister of Education. "At the same time, we want to ensure that corrective actions we take are commensurate to the severity and impact of the teacher's behaviour."
There are instances when a teacher might exercise bad judgement: giving students a personal gift for example, or privately meeting with a student away from the school. The proposed amendments would give the province the authority to develop regulations that would allow the minister to impose restrictions and conditions on a teacher's certificate, to issue a warning to a teacher, to issue a letter of reprimand, or to suspend a teacher with conditions. Currently, the minister can only suspend or cancel a teacher's certificate.
The regulations would also allow a teacher who was facing an investigation to voluntarily surrender their certificate.
School boards would still retain their responsibility to discipline an employee who has a teacher's certificate if he or she contravenes board policy. The Department of Education looks at whether an individual is qualified to hold a teaching certificate.
The proposed amendments, which reflect practices in other Canadian jurisdictions, would also expand the education minister's reporting requirements. The minister now provides other Canadian jurisdictions with an annual record of cancelled certificates. If the amendments are passed, the minister could share this information more frequently and include school boards in the notification process.
The changes would apply to anyone who holds a teacher's certificate or permit: teachers, librarians, guidance counsellors and principals. Some faculty/instructors in community colleges, private career colleges and universities may have a teacher's certificate or permit, but they might not need one as a condition of employment.
There are about 12,500 active Nova Scotia teacher's certificates in effect. In an average year, there are 15 reports of inappropriate behaviour and five teaching certificates are suspended or cancelled.
In addition to expanding its options for corrective measures for teachers, the province is also considering how it would deal with applications to establish private universities.
"There are no private universities in Nova Scotia now but the education department has received inquiries from Canadian and American organizations," said Mr. Muir.
The proposed amendments to the Degree Granting Act would give the province more control over institutions that want to issue degrees, specifically those that want to open private universities. If the bill passes, application review criteria would be established later through regulations under the act.
Currently, institutions that grant degrees in Nova Scotia must either be authorized by a Canadian legislature or be a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).
Under the proposed amendments, an organization wishing to open a private degree granting university must apply to the Department of Education, prove that it is financially secure, that it has appropriate academic standards, and that the program does not duplicate an existing program in a public institution. An applicant would not automatically receive degree granting authority through an act of another Canadian legislature and being a member of the AUCC alone would no longer qualify an institution to grant degrees.
If passed, the education department could review a private university's financial and administrative records to ensure they were operating within the act. The province could also set conditions on the university's authority to grant degrees. Convictions under the act could result in a fine of up to $25,000.
Public universities would still have the ability to enter into agreements with other public universities, allowing students attending one institution to receive a degree from another institution.
The Degree Granting Act has not changed since 1989, despite significant changes in the delivery of post secondary education.
Nova Scotia has 11 public universities. In 2005-06, there were 44,000 full- and part-time students enrolled at these institutions. The province has the highest number of universities per capita in Canada.
FOR BROADCAST USE:
Amendments to the Education Act were introduced today (May
10th), in the legislature that would provide the Department of
Education with more options to take corrective measures with
teachers. Proposed amendments to the Degree Granting Act would
give the province the authority to review applications to
establish private universities.
If passed, the province could establish regulations giving
the minister of education the ability to issue a warning
to a teacher, send a letter of reprimand, or to suspend a teacher
with conditions. Currently, the minister can only suspend or
cancel a teacher's certificate.
Under the proposed amendments to the second act, the
Department of Education would also have more control over
organizations that wish to establish a private university in the
province. An organization can now use the authority issued by
another province to grant degrees in Nova Scotia.
No private universities exist in the province now but the
department wants develop proper criteria before an official
application comes forward.
Media Contact: Kevin Finch
Department of Education