News Release Archive

  Following is an op/ed article on Nova Scotia's new Education
  Act by Education and Culture Minister John MacEachern :
  On Nov. 3, I introduced a progressive new Education Act,
  focused on supporting students and teachers in the
  classroom. While the purpose and principles of the bill have
  been well-received, the wording has caused undue concern and
  I want to address these concerns so the purpose and
  principles are clear to everyone. In fact, we have been
  working very closely with the Nova Scotia School Boards
  Association, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, the Canadian
  Union of Public Employees, the Home Education Association
  and other groups to address the concerns as they are
  presented to us. Such dialogue helps me prepare amendments
  for the Law Amendments Committee, and more importantly, will
  clarify and strengthen the bill to benefit Nova Scotia
  Because that's what the bill is all about -- supporting
  student success. The principles in the bill are all tied to
  this central purpose. 
  One, the act builds on the strength of partnerships in our
  schools. Students win when parents have the opportunity to
  work with teachers, and all partners as a team, to support
  learning. Of course, the province will remain responsible
  for curriculum and the quality of education. But school
  advisory councils mean more decisions directly affecting
  students can be made right in our schools and communities,
  instead of offices in Halifax.
  But let me make clear, the councils will be advisory only. 
  Councils will not hire and fire teachers, nor will we have
  charter schools. School advisory councils simply allow
  everyone with an interest in education -- parents, teachers,
  school boards, school support staff, community members and
  the students themselves -- to work as a team in improving
  education in our schools.
  This must be true for all students, which brings me to the
  second principle. The act is built on the principle of
  equity. Provincial and regional standards will be in place
  so that all students have access to a high quality of
  education, whether they attend school in Donkin, or Digby or
  Dartmouth. As well, Acadians and Francophones will be able
  to make decisions about the direction and future of
  French-language education across the province. And the act
  would create our first Council on African-Canadian
  Three, the act promotes safe, orderly schools. Teachers and
  principals, in consultation with students and their parents,
  would be given the authority they need to effectively manage
  their classrooms and schools. For example, too often, we
  read about people causing trouble in our schools, who don't
  even attend that school. The act would give teachers and
  principals the authority to take necessary action to remove
  such individuals from the school grounds.
  A penalty clause (Section 142) is also included to apply to
  people with no business on school grounds. In fact, I will
  be amending the language of this clause to make clear that
  the clause would not apply to the roles and responsibilities
  of teachers, principals school staff, parents or students.
  Four, the act allows for more dollars to be redirected to
  the classroom through school board amalgamation, and other
  management and administrative decisions. And of course, the
  bill is about accountability for results and for the use of
  tax dollars. This isn't about a power grab, but about
  clarifying accountabilities for the school, elected school
  boards and the minister.
  For example, school boards are accountable for maintaining
  and operating their schools, but if a school has not been
  well maintained, taxpayers turn to the province for a
  solution. The minister must have accountabilities in place
  to prevent this from happening.
  And of course, this bill is built on the principle of
  fairness for the people who work in education. That's why
  current contracts, successor rights and the collective
  bargaining process are protected. That's why the act
  recognizes the professional role of teachers and principals
  in our schools. And that's why, for the first time, the
  important role of support staff in our schools is also
  I look forward to presenting amendments to the Law
  Amendments Committee on Nov. 20 that reconfirm the
  principles in the act and clarify the language. In
  particular, I want to thank the groups and individuals who
  have contacted or met with me over the past two weeks, and
  in fact, the past two years. As a result, the bill will be
  strengthened and improved, so we all can be assured our new
  Education Act will support a better education and a better
  future for young Nova Scotians.
  Contact: Donna MacDonald   902-424-2615
  trp                      Nov. 16, 1995