Strengthening the System to Better Serve Kids

Education and Early Childhood Development

February 7, 2018 4:12 PM

NOTE: The following is an op-ed piece from Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Everything we do, every action, every decision we make is for the benefit of our kids.

We have accepted recommendations made by Dr. Avis Glaze in her report: Raise the Bar - a Coherent and Responsive Education Administrative System for Nova Scotia.

Dr. Glaze’s report called upon all partners of the education system to better prepare students for success once they leave high school.

In her review and through her many conversations with people in and out of the education system - she noted our system was often in a state of conflict, siloed and dysfunctional. And worse still, she points to our flawed structure as partially responsible for producing consistently “average” or below average test scores for Nova Scotia students, compared to other Canadian jurisdictions.

That, to me, is unacceptable. And I don’t believe that any Nova Scotian parent, guardian or educator is okay with settling for average.

If we want our students to have all the choices that having good grades and a solid education gives them, and if we want to keep, and attract families to our province, we need to step up our efforts on education. Our kids need us to come together on their behalf. We’re the only ones that can do it.

To that end, government has accepted the spirit of all 22 recommendations from Dr. Glaze’s report and is moving forward with 11 recommendations first. These include unifying the system by dissolving the seven elected boards (the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial is not impacted), introducing more flexibility to fill teaching positions by allowing teachers to move from region to region without losing their seniority, moving lead math and literacy supports from administrative offices into schools to be closer to teachers and students, enabling teachers to select their own books and learning materials, bringing principals and vice-principals out of the union to avoid potential conflict of interests when trying to manage their teaching staff and empowering school advisory councils, made up of principals, parents, teachers and other community leaders, to be our local voices.

Local, operational decisions will still be made locally. For example, snow day decisions will remain at the local level, just as it is today.

These fixes will require changes, some of which will be uncomfortable, but if we’re serious about giving our kids our best effort to help them do their best – and I believe we are – then some tough decisions must be made.

Where we want to end up, is with a system that is better focused on our kids, that decisions made are clearer and more consistently applied, and our educators have more resources, power and autonomy to make decisions that benefit student learning.

We have incredible, committed people working in our schools, school boards and in the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, all of whom are deeply dedicated to helping students succeed.

Any changes being made are not about individuals. And it’s not about any one group – it’s a recognition that our system is flawed.

Fortunately, it’s within our collective power to fix it.

Over the next few weeks I will be meeting with School Advisory Council representatives, board administrations and other key partners who will help us start moving forward on this report. As Dr. Glaze points out, “the children cannot wait.”

Government’s response to the Raise the Bar report can be found at http://ednet.ns.ca/adminreview or at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s website.

A copy of Dr. Glaze’s report is online at http://ednet.ns.ca/adminreview

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Media Contact: Heather Fairbairn
              Cell: 902-717-2151
              Email: Heather.Fairbairn@novascotia.ca