Poll commissioned by NSTU gives McNeil Liberals a failing grade
A new poll is giving Nova Scotia's government a failing grade in its handling of public education.
The survey -- commissioned by the Nova Scotia Teacher's Union -- says the majority of Nova Scotians feel imposing a contract on teachers and eliminating elected school boards were bad moves.
It's been nearly a year since the Nova Scotia government voted to dissolve elected school boards and almost two years since they imposed a new contract on teachers -- amid much controversy.
Now, with 2018 nearly over, this poll is a report card of sorts for the McNeil Liberals.
The grades aren’t good and indicates a majority Nova Scotians think these, and other changes, were the wrong moves.
“I’m not at all surprised,” said Sydney parent Lisa Bond. “Stephen McNeil didn't ask anybody what kind of changes we needed in our education system. He went by studies. More paid studies -- wasted money -- when he could just speak to us.”
The poll finds nearly sixty per cent of Nova Scotians surveyed feel the McNeil government's actions have had a negative impact on the quality of public education.
Only one in four view the changes as positive.
Education Minister Zach Churchill responded Thursday by saying the changes haven’t had enough time to take effect and that the old way of doing things just wasn't working.
“We had three independent reports that indicated that the former governance model was a contributing factor to our student achievement levels and well-being levels being so different from region to region,” Churchill said.
Bond says losing local school boards in Cape Breton has been the biggest blow.
“It’s going to turn into the exact same situation we have with health care,” Bond said. “If we don't have local boards, we have no local decisions. Everything comes down from Halifax.”
The poll also shows that 83 per cent of Nova Scotians have a favourable opinion of public school teachers, but that only 17 per cent feel the McNeil government is doing a good or excellent job of managing the public school system.
“We have now the highest teacher-to-student ratio in our province's history,” Churchill said. “We have the most non-teaching supports in place that we've ever had for behaviour, for mental health, for speech pathology and psychology issues. So, we're getting there.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.