Response: to blog March 15, 2014

The following is my response to Another Committee About Education Without Teachers? Go Figure. at – March 15, 2014.  I posted this response as a comment to the original article.

In his post, Mr Frost discusses the recent history of committees and studies that have looked at issues related to Education in Nova Scotia.  He points out that for the most part these committees lack representation from the (current) teaching profession.

The Nova Scotia government has recently appointed yet another committee to examine all aspects of public education in the province and again, there is no representation of (current) teachers on this committee.

At the end of his article, Mr Frost asks: “Do you believe the new committee reviewing education in Nova Scotia should include some current teachers?” in a widget that provides YES and NO as the only possible answers.  

My point here is not to debate the validity of the voice of teachers on this committee, but to illustrate that the suggested simplicity of the answer that is implied by Yes/No choices is flawed.

Mr Frost… I’m surprised you’d ask a question like this and provide the opportunity for only a Yes/No answer! Should this committee include some currrent teachers? Well, obviously it should… right? Everyone would agree I’m sure! So… who would select those teachers… and how?? There would have to be representation from both Fench and English Boards – French is easy – CSAP could supply teachers, but which English Board? Well, HRSB accounts for ~40% of the province’s students…so that makes sense! But shouldn’t distant areas like Yarmouth and Sydney be represented? Of course, so then it’s best to just have representation from all 8 English Boards and CSAP. Done, right? No? Hmm… P-2 teachers might not feel they are represented if the person from their Board is a high school teacher – good point. So, maybe there should be one teacher from each level from each board on this committee. That’s just 27 teachers, so it should be no problem at all. But should there be a mix of administrators and classroom teachers? What about representation from core subject teachers and those from specialty areas? That could all become pretty complicated – but really, it would be necessary I think, wouldn’t it? Of course! So away we go… What’s that you say? There are still groups that aren’t represented? That can’t be! Oh! Retired teachers… yes, they have decades of experience, they’ve seen trends come and go and come again. They could definately provide some excellent insight. After all, if we don’t know where we’ve been, how can we know where we are or where we’re going?? Good, then a well selected group of retired teachers would be excellent on this committee. Is that everyone? No. There are the pre-service teachers too. How can we possibly look at all aspects of education in NS if we don’t include pre-service teachers? We can’t of course. So, there should be representation from pre-service teachers, and since we have several universities offering training to pre-service teachers, there should be a few from each of those institutions. Speaking of universities, it makes sense that there be sufficient representation from the faculty of the Education Departments at each of those institutions as well – after all they are the people who drive the programs that train the people who will be teachers in our schools. That must pretty much take care of it! No?? Still others need to be represented? The Department of Education, the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, the NSTU, representatives from the other Unions involved in the education process in the Province, parents, volunteers, even students?? Well, of course they should all be on this committee!

So, I can see the selection process taking several months, then meetings would have to be scheduled and how do you find common times that all members of this committee would be available… it seems there’s probably close to 200 members at this point!? And meeting space! Will all members be compensated? If so, to what extent? What would be the budget for this committee? How do you facilitate of committee that is so vast? There would have to be sub-committees. That should work… then they would all reprt back to the main group.

Wow… this seems very complicated! But, it seems necessary because, really, there should be teachers on this committee, right? So I must have been wrong to question the Yes/No aspect of this question you pose.