The leadership of the Green Party is questioning whether anything will, or even can be accomplished by the latest return to the bargaining table after the latest breakdown in contract negotiations.
The teachers of Nova Scotia know how to teach their students. While the government negotiates with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, students are being harmed by a combative approach to our education system. You cannot legislate or negotiate respect toward the teachers, the ability to hear them, nor common sense. The bargaining process does not address teachers’ needs in the classroom. While the government seems incapable of innovation, the NSTU does not have the power or mandate to address the flaws within our education system.
After three failed attempts to find an agreement that Nova Scotia teachers can support, it is clear that broader solutions are necessary. The collective bargaining process is not addressing what the teachers are saying, and a temporary contract may have to be offered and accepted, while the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development embarks on bold systemic reform.
Politicians and policy makers need to take education reform seriously as we currently have a system that is not sustainable for students, nor teachers. Sustainability will mean questioning not just financial matters and numbers of support staff, but practices such as standardized testing and data collection.
Bargaining negotiations are important, but they are not the right tool for the job that is currently needed, which is a re-thinking and re-forming of our education system, which has become cumbersome, expensive, and ineffective. There is no clear road to a collaborative reform effort, but that doesn’t mean that one can’t be found. Let the teachers lead.