I will give education Minister Ramona Jennex points for using numbers. Her May 17 opinion piece seemed well-researched and full of doom-and-gloom predictions about how, if her government doesn’t act responsibly, Nova Scotia schools will soon be full of teachers sitting in empty classrooms. Despite her attempts to put the blame for the province’s current financial woes directly on the backs of educators, a closer examination of the numbers shows some pretty basic truths.
According to Ms. Jennex, Nova Scotia has 361 more teachers than it had 10 years ago. Fair enough. We also have about 425 schools. That means, on average, each school in Nova Scotia added 0.85 teachers. At 125,000 students, we have added one teacher for every 346 kids. Over 10 years. Hardly cause for panic.
Ms. Jennex once wrote that she wished for “an informed discussion” around education (“Students and learning top priorities,” Dec. 15, 2011, op-ed). Well, I am for that as well. But I am a teacher. I know that in my school, there are going to be larger classes next year. I know we have cut programs. And I know we have cut teaching positions. Despite her protestations, these cuts run deep.
You don’t need to believe me. Simply wait until September. We’ll see what Ms. Jennex’s numbers say then.