This article is in response to an op-ed column by Minister of Education Ramona Jennex, which appeared in the April 9 edition of the Truro Daily News, as well as a paid advertisement from Truro-Bible Hill MLA Lenore Zann, which appeared in the April 7 edition of the Truro Daily News.
Zann and Jennex have been quick to blame past governments for the NDP's poor decisions regarding education.
We must remember the Dexter government has been in office for three years. It is time for it to take responsibility for the decisions they've made.
This is a government that is failing our students.
The Dexter government has cut more than $60 million from education - there are fewer teachers, fewer teaching assistants, fewer resources and the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board may be forced to eliminate all school librarians.
When attempting to justify its cuts, the Dexter government points to the province's books and to declining enrollment.
The government's argument that they are facing tough financial times is not consistent with the decisions they have made. Since taking office, the Dexter government has spent in excess of $100 million to buy land and $8 million buying paving equipment. This government has also hired an associate deputy minister for the department of education and, in the most recent budget, has grown the administration in the minister's office.
Deciding to grow the bureaucracy while slashing funding and resources for the classroom cannot be justified. This government does not have a revenue problem, they have a priority problem - education is not one of their priorities.
The Dexter government consistently points to an aging population and shrinking student body when they are asked to justify their attack on education funding. They say that they are simply funding the system based on the number of students in the system.
Basing education funding on the number of students in the system ignores the diversity of today's classrooms and is also a direct attack on rural schools.
There are more students with specialized learning programs in today's classroom and the NDP's decisions have removed the resources from our classroom that our teachers use to meet the needs of today's students. Removing these supports will not only impact students with special needs, they will negatively impact every student. The reality of today's classroom is one that is ignored by this government and our students are suffering.
While Zann said that no MLA fights harder than she does for teachers, she voted for a budget that took $30 million from education, against a resolution to stop education cuts and will be called on to support another $30 million cut. She needs to say no to Dexter's cuts and stand up for students in her riding.
Instead of cutting education, this government needs to invest in education, reverse its devastating cuts and begin focusing on the basics - numeracy and literacy. Such investment and focus is necessary to ensure that our students will be capable of competing in tomorrow's workforce and will help ensure the economic prosperity of Nova Scotia.
This government has been in power for three years - it's time for them to take responsibility for their decisions and to stop asking your children to pay for their mistakes.
TAGLINE: Stephen McNeil is the leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.