Reflecting on the Glaze Report
As we move closer to the next legislative sitting, I want to share some of my own thinking around the reforms the government is moving so quickly to implement. Please let me know what you think, in the comments below or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past couple of weeks there has been a lot to digest for observers of Nova Scotia politics. One would be forgiven for glazing over at the mention of yet another report on our education system. But as we now know, this report is different. Rather than gathering so much dust on a shelf as have many of the reports that went before, the Glaze report has garnered a different reaction.
Two weeks after it’s receipt, and just one day after its release to the public, the Liberal government accepted the entire report “in spirit”, and is plowing ahead with implementing 11 of the 22 recommendations by the start of the next school year.
I’m sensitive to that date, September 2018, because it’s when my youngest will be starting school. He’s the baby of the family and so of course there is some emotion thinking of him entering “big school”. But with the implementation of this report the key emotion I am feeling is dismay. Dismay because there is not a single thing in these recommendations that I believe will help my son as he enters school. To the contrary, I fear that this will serve to exacerbate the already low teacher morale, will pit teachers against principals, and create an administrative mess.
Most observers will note that the blueprint for education laid out in the Glaze report is almost exactly the same as the one we’ve been following for primary healthcare: get rid of regional, responsive representation. Centralize all decision making in Halifax. Appoint a provincial board. Make no commitments to transparency. We all see how that’s playing out in real time in our hospitals. Fool me once, shame on me, but fool me twice? Nova Scotians are too smart for that.
The Minister of Education is seizing this political moment to completely rewrite the Education Act, and the system it governs, on the flimsiest of premises. Dr. Glaze says that our children are not doing well enough. Based on mine and others’ reading of standardized testing our students are, in fact, meeting the national averages, and are generally sitting fourth after the big three economies: Ontario, BC and Alberta.
Of course, there is always work to do. The Glaze report is quick to point out the dysfunction of school boards. And yes, there is dysfunction and a lack of clear accountability. All of this needs to be fixed. I’m not the first to point out that it is not a wise course of action to respond to a democratic institution that needs help by eliminating it altogether. Study them, train them, work with them, but eliminate them?
At the same time, so many of the specific issues that parents (including myself) have with the school boards are the outcome of provincial government policy.
Upset at the closure of small schools? The Liberal government has been clear with rural school boards: if you want money for programming and initiatives, get rid of excess square footage. Close schools.
Pointing to school boards’ deficiencies worked for the provincial government in dodging the blame, and it works for them now in eliminating school boards altogether. But this won't make the Liberal government accountable for their own decisions.
Now, they will have a Provincial Advisory Council to make the unpopular decisions. In education, we can look forward to more of the “who’s on first?” finger pointing that we’re seeing now between the Department of Health and the Nova Scotia Health Authority when it comes to the crisis we are facing in health care.
As a package of reforms, the Glaze report conveniently mirrors the policy of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party and their donors, and more broadly echoes many of the reforms we’ve seen in the U.S. that have served to weaken their public education system. The Liberal government has already dealt one of our most prized public institutions, health care, a crushing blow. Let’s not let it take down another one.