Pressure grows for transparancy on future of N.S. literacy support program
Published Tuesday, May 7, 2019 9:30PM ADT
There's growing pressure on Nova Scotia's education minister to address possible program cuts for students this fall – including a reading program called “early literacy support.”
The Nova Scotia Teacher's Union says it has heard from members and parents concerned about cutbacks to a program that helps youngsters who struggle with reading.
Tuesday, the opposition parties got involved and started calling for transparency.
Jennifer Spears says reading is one of life's pleasures for her, but it wasn't the case for her seven-year-old daughter Rebecca, who struggled with it.
“A lot of anxiety and tears when it was that time of day when she needed to practice her reading,” Spears said. “So, it was a bit of dilemma for us because you know she has to practice in order to get better.”
Rebecca enrolled in Early Literacy Support (ELS) last year and the turnaround was nothing short of remarkable by Christmas.
Rebecca now reads above her grade level.
“She absolutely reads because she enjoys to read,” Spears said. “She will bring a book in the car with her now, and sometime even choose it over the iPad.”
Still, concerns about the program are growing.
With teacher assignments now being doled out for the fall, the union and others are noting cuts to programs like ELS and it’s a matter of concern to opposition parties.
“Any time you hear there's potential cuts or reallocations for a program that you know is working to support our students, it raises red flags,” said Progressive Conservative MLA Tim Halman.
NDP education critic Claudia Chender says "they should be educating the public as to why they're making the changes they're making, and what they expect to achieve from that, because presumably there are a set of reasons.”
Less than a week after the province announced a $15-million investment to improve inclusive education in the province, the Education Minister Zach Churchill insists he's not “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Although her daughter no longer needs the program, Spears is hopeful other parents will have the same opportunity -- a message she wants the minister to hear.
“Literacy is the key to their education, and if they're not feeling confident with that, it's going to be detrimental to our province and to our children,” Spears said.
The department reiterated there are no cuts to education funding for this fiscal year, and overall-spending is, in fact, up by $44 million.
The minister says the regional education centres assign teachers every year based on enrollment and other factors, and as we're hearing, some of those assignments don't appear to include programs like ELS anymore.
The teacher's union and the opposition parties want the minister to start explaining some of those changes publicly.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.