I’ll give the NDP credit for pluck.
Last week, as I was preparing lessons for a class of 37 students, I heard a radio ad that infuriated me. In it, the government was crowing about how well they are doing on the education front. According to their propaganda machine, their policies are working, and “Class sizes are down in many areas of the province.”
Nothing in the NDP’s “Kids and Learning First” strategy can even remotely be credited with creating lower class sizes. The government has actually taken steps to ensure the opposite result, by raising classroom caps, cutting funding and reducing teachers.
If class size is down in Nova Scotia (and that’s a big if), it has nothing to do with this government’s “plan” for education. I submit two possibilities. Either teachers are teaching more classes or more people are leaving the Province.
The first is a fact in many buildings, particularly here in metro. Some schools have kept class size down by offering more classes with the same number of staff. In this model, a teacher would be teaching, for example, 4 classes of 30 students instead of 3 classes of 40. So although the individual class size may be decreased, it is because the schools have made it happen. In buildings where this was impossible, classes have gotten larger. Period. We have not even begun to determine the toll this pace will take on the staff in these schools.
The second reason may only be natural demographics. But if the best job creation deal this government can negotiate is one of slashed pensions, reduced workforces and no raises for ten years (See Pacific West) then a provincial exodus may very well be afoot in this region of a magnitude not seen since the 1970s. And as families leave, class sizes are bound to decrease. Good for the government. Mission accomplished.
In this Province we should all be striving for excellence in our schools, in our classrooms and in our children. But to have this government take credit for doing anything good for this province’s education system because they have reduced funding is, quite frankly, ludicrous, and more than somewhat insulting to our general intelligence.
Perhaps, instead of continuing to spin their disastrous decisions into something they can brag about, the NDP might actually see fit to replace some of the money they have stripped from this Province’s children. Money they seem able to dole out on a whim to big business. Perhaps then they would deserve credit for something more than pluck.
They would deserve credit for finally doing the right thing.