'Urgent' meeting of black families called to address changes to N.S. education

'Urgent' meeting of black families called to address changes to N.S. education

Recent changes to Nova Scotia's education system have left black families and other members of the community unsure of how African-Nova Scotian students will be treated.

Karen Hudson, executive director of the Black Educators Association, says that uncertainty has prompted an "urgent' meeting of parents, students and educators at the Halifax North Memorial Public Library on Monday night.

"This is an opportunity for the black community to come together to have a unified voice, to establish a plan of action — to strategize, to come up with suggestions, options, to look at recourse."

Hudson said the loss of an elected African-Nova Scotian representative on school boards is especially troubling. The scrapping of provincial school boards has left the black community without a voice, something that she said she hopes the meeting will address.

Tina Roberts-Jeffers, the mother of three young children, plans to be at tonight's meeting. She calls the new Education Act "a very, very complicated document."

Roberts-Jeffers, who currently has a daughter in Grade 1, said it is important to go over the act very carefully.

"Little, small changes sometimes have a big impact."

Roberts-Jeffers is active at her daughter's school and serves as the chair of the school's advisory committee.

Even though she said she has been "exceptionally engaged" in the education system, "I still don't understand it all. There are multiple different issues that concern me."

For example, she wonders about the status of race and heritage positions outlined in the previous act, as well as student support workers.

"The way funding decisions are made is very important. I'm not sure what that looks like now and it makes me very anxious."

African-Nova Scotian representation in the school system has "become much more cloudy," Roberts-Jeffers said. 

"Is each school community now supposed to manage that process itself? It all feels very rushed and it's unclear to me exactly how much thought has been given to the experience of black students in general."

Correction : An earlier version of this story said that the previous Education Act ensured that African-Nova Scotian representatives met with the education minister four times a year. In fact, the legislation ensured the CACE met four times a year as a council; there was no requirement to meet with minister.(Mar 20, 2018 5:11 PM)