autism · Education · Nova Scotia · Politics · Ranting · Virtual Activism

Education woes…

On Thursday, January 13 2011, I posted the following in my Facebook Notes…

As the parent of two autistic children, I am terrified at the prospect of the proposed and looming 22% cut to the Nova Scotia Education Budget.

As many of you know, Izaak requires an exceptional amount of resources to be able to participate in the public school system.  Although we have been fortunate to have dedicated educators and education programming assistants (EPAs) assisting Izaak through his 4 grade levels, he does not get anywhere near what he needs.  Luckily, Izaak’s principals have been lions administratively, his Learning Centre Teachers have been wizards creatively, and his EPAs have been mothers devotionally.  But he still does not get anywhere near what he needs.  They reach into their own school funds and pockets to provide Izaak with materials and safety equipment and sensory toys. But he still does not get anywhere near what he needs.

And now we are facing cuts.

Gabe moved away from the security of elementary school and into the hormonal hell of Junior High this year.  They did not get the funding they required to have a full-time EPA with him.  In the fall, Gabe got away from the school, onto a bus, and all the way to Penhorn Mall.  His school had to divert resources away from other children to respond.  His current Learning Centre teacher is young and eager and enthusiastic to work with Gabe and help him through his hormonal awkwardness that occurs in all boys his age (the whole school of them)… yet she has to put unanswered request after unanswered request in with the school board for more support.

And now we are facing cuts.

My boys happen to require more resources than the average student… but all parents should be concerned about what these cuts will mean for the daily realities of their children’s experiences in school.  While it’s true that our premier has yet to give us any inkling of what cutting 22% of our already pathetic education budget over the next three years will look like on paper… you can be sure that those paper cuts are going to sting.

You can’t take $200 million dollars out of an already broken system and expect positive results… Can you?  What planet is our government living on?

If you are the parent of a child attending school in NS, now is the time to speak up before it’s too late.  The Unions are doing their part, the opposition is doing their part, the School Boards are doing their part to raise a ruckus over these proposed cuts.  It is time for the parents and grandparents and students to start speaking up.  Harness the power of whatever little machine you are reading this from and at least try to save your kid’s education.

Email the Premier at ddexter.mla@gmail.com

Email the new Education Minister at ramonajennexmla@bellaliant.com

Find your MLA here http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/people/ and email them

Even if your email simply says, “I oppose the education cuts and want to see a 10% increase to the education budget”…  do it right now!  Because if you do nothing, then you are as responsible for the cuts as the premier is.”

Then, I posted this generic email for all the folks who wanted to oppose to send, if they were unable to find their own words…

Dear Premier Dexter

I am emailing you to ask you to please reconsider the proposed 22% cuts to the NS Education Budget over the next three years. In fact, I would like to see a 10…% increase in the education budget.

I am concerned that these so-called paper cuts are going to have very real consequences in the classroom.

Please juggle your balance sheets in a different way, put families first, and listen to what Nova Scotians are saying about these cuts.

Sincerely
your name”

David followed suit and posted his letter on his blog, which caught the attention of Info Morning where he gave a fantastic interview on the topic.

Now, when I posted my FB note, I did so with high privacy settings for a number of reasons.  Only my friends, and friends of friends could see it.  So all of a sudden I started getting friend requests from parents who wanted to share the link with their friends… I received a number of emails on the topic, and everyone who sent a letter that I knew, notified me of the send.

I *know* that Mr. Dexter, Mrs. Jennex and a number of MLAs have received a good number of emails to demonstrate opposition to the cuts.

So imagine my surprise when this morning, Dexter says that the School Boards are engaging in fear-mongering to scare parents about the cuts.  And I wonder, is this because over the weekend his inbox was inundated with emails from concerned parents about the cuts?

Surely I am just being narcissistic here… surely Mr. Dexter wouldn’t present citizen opposition to one of his policies as simply the result of fear-mongering… surely he isn’t saying that his citizens can’t think for themselves so they are being swayed by political rhetoric… surely he isn’t saying that the citizens he has been hired to serve are incapable of telling a good policy from a bad one… this statement on fear-mongering simply MUST be a coincidence and in no way related to the amount of emails he received over the weekend from concerned parents.

Now Mr. Dexter has right to be concerned about the school boards and how they spend the education budgets.  He has, indeed, identified structural problems within the operations of the boards and administrative misuse of funds… but, it seems that the answer to this problem is to not simply cut their administrative budgets… it is to work on a new way to deliver education in this province.  Because in the end the school boards determine how money is spent, and whether it’s to hire more EPAs and education specialists, or to pump into a new school board building (a la HRSB), or to hire more administrators, the boards are going to prioritize spending the 22% less money in their bank accounts, not the province.

But it is politically convenient for Dexter this way, isn’t it?  Then he gets to sluff responsibility for the broken education system on the school boards… right?

This isn’t leadership… it is posturing and rhetoric at it’s finest… but it is not leadership.

So while Mr. Dexter continues to play politics with our children’s education, I encourage you all to continue emailing Mr. Dexter, the education minister and your MLAs, and tell them why this concern is real, and not the result of fear-mongering by the boards.

I would love to have a sit down with Mr. Dexter or the education minister, I’d like to invite them to spend a day in the Learning Centres of any school in the province.  I’d like to ask them to show me how their cuts aren’t going to affect students, and I’d like them to present me with a report or two from any education or organizational expert which indicates this is a good idea.  But I know that isn’t going to happen…

So I’ll stand on my soapbox a little longer, and continue to rally parents in the easiest way I can… using this little machine to try and change the messed up narratives that govern us.

It’s time to remind Mr. Dexter, and his party, who they are working for.

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