“We ask that government take an honest approach to restructuring the school board system that respects existing collective agreements and school board employees and does not legislate away labour rights in order to dictate their own terms." — Joan Jessome, NSGEU President.
Halifax (03 Nov. 2014) — The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) is expressing its disappointment that the government has neglected to include the role of school support staff in the Educational Review process.
Neglecting input from school support staff a major oversight in Educational Review process
“Overall, we were glad to see a review of the educational system and agree with many of the recommendations in the report, although we were disappointed to see no reference at all to the role of support staff and the valuable role they play in the educational team,” says Joan Jessome, NSGEU President.
Student support staff were not recognized as stakeholders during the Educational Review process and are absent from the Report. The NSGEU/NUPGE asked to be included in the Partners Advisory Group and also asked to meet with the review panel, but were turned down both times. Now the Minister has announced plans to meet with stakeholder groups, and once again school support staff are not included.
“Support staff are a critical link in our educational system,” continues Jessome. “They work as educational assistants/student support workers, IT specialists, secretaries and administrative personnel, bus drivers, bus monitors, cafeteria, custodial, and library staff. Their contribution to a student’s education should have been acknowledged in the report.”
NSGEU/NUPGE concerned about educational review, given government's unilateral approach to health care restructuring
The report indicates it has been 25 years since a comprehensive review of Nova Scotia’s school system. Much has changed in this time, including an increasing role for staff who support the classroom (e.g. in IT) and the student (e.g. as an educational assistant). The NSGEU/NUPGE represents 1,800 school support staff who work in every school board, except in Cape Breton.
The NSGEU/NUPGE is also concerned with the approach government may take to restructuring school boards, given their approach to restructuring health care.
“We ask that government take an honest approach to restructuring the school board system that respects existing collective agreements and school board employees and does not legislate away labour rights in order to dictate their own terms,” says Jessome.
The NSGEU/NUPGE supports many of the recommendations in the report that will better prepare students for life after high school, including moving on to post-secondary education or into work life.
“The recommendation to redesign the early elementary curriculum to focus on math and literacy is a perfect opportunity to restore funding for libraries in schools and bring librarians back. Librarians support students’ individual reading and research interests and help to instill a life long love for reading and learning.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE