On April 26, provincial Education Minister Ramona Jennex stood up in the legislature and said: “The (Nova Scotia Teachers Union) is for their members. This government is for the children.”
On Saturday, May 5, as I started my 32nd hour of chaperoning students at the 40th annual Nova Scotia high school drama festival, I was taken by a moment of extreme sadness because of what Jennex’s comments mean to the professionals I have come to care so much about.
For those of you who don’t know, this festival — DramaFest — is a three-day event attended by drama students from all over the province, who come to play, meet new people, perform and attend workshops.
For many, it is a life-changing event full of priceless memories. It is funded in large part by the Educational Drama Association of Nova Scotia. For 40 years, teachers like me have given their time to go with the kids.
Yet, according to Jennex, I don’t care about children. According to Jennex, I need more students in my classes. According to Jennex, my workload should increase so that Nova Scotia can continue to be second-last in per-student funding in the country. And according to Jennex, her government cares more about children than I do — the same government that promises education cuts won’t impact students, but then increases class sizes.
This year, 309 students came together to celebrate the spirit that has become DramaFest. Easily, more than 10,000 have attended over the past 40 years.
That’s why I was sad, you see. I wasn’t sad for me, but for all the wonderful and amazing educators who, year after year, have given and continue to give of themselves for Nova Scotia’s children. That giving doesn’t only happen during DramaFest, but at plays, musicals and countless other events. And I was sad because they have a boss who stands up in public and announces that her government cares more about kids than they do.
Well, I am pretty sure that, this week at least, I can point to 309 students who would stand up in public and disagree with Jennex. And I know that if this government continues to cut funding, events like DramaFest are going to get that much harder to stage.