At the height of summer, one of the last things on the minds of many Nova Scotians is school. For those of us in the field of education, however, the thought of September remains a nagging worry. What will my class look like? How many students will I have? How will I cope with less?
As I was reading through the papers on Monday, July 23, I came across a piece by Christopher Spence, Director of the Toronto District School Board, in the Toronto Star. He was extending a sympathetic word to the families of that city’s shooting victims from last week, and talking about the important role that school plays in helping curb such heinous acts. “As we look toward solving the complex problems besetting our youth today,” he writes ” we must work together if we have any hope of succeeding.”
Thankfully, violence of that magnitude is rare in our little corner of the world. But two recent pieces in the Chronicle Herald, one on bullying written by a 14-year-old girl and one addressing a lesbian mother’s perspective on schooling, reinforced the truism that education needs to be about more than money and tests scores.
Spence states that he firmly believes at-risk behaviours such as low academic achievement and poor attendance begin to appear at the elementary level and suggests that more resources should be allocated to identify, engage and support these children at a younger age. This sounds strikingly familiar to the recommendations penned after the Theresa McEvoy tragedy of 2004. Yet, in September, Nova Scotia’s students will see an increase in class size and a reduction in resources across all levels, including elementary.
My own daughter is going into a grade 1-2 split next year, largely because of funding cuts. To say I am worried is an understatement of a magnitude beyond words. Hundreds, if not thousands of Nova Scotia parents, I am sure, are feeling the same way.
Let’s hope that, come the fall, this government recognizes that education is about more than just money and that some things are, quite simply, worth much, much more than others.