Education minister, teachers union head silent over Glaze report meeting

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Spring session at N.S. Legislature opens amid protests

Nova Scotia's education minister met with the head of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union on Thursday to try to resolve a dispute over the province's plans to implement recommendations in an education consultant's report, but parents remain worried about the threat of illegal job action by the union.

Both the Education Department and the teachers union have agreed to keep what was discussed at Thursday's meeting confidential.

On Tuesday, 93 per cent of the union's public school members voted and 82.5 per cent supported illegal job action, which means nearly 77 per cent of eligible teachers voted to strike.

What does Glaze report recommend?

The Avis Glaze report called for eliminating elected school boards and taking weak teachers out of the classroom.

Glaze characterized school boards as confused, with unclear roles and responsibilities. She said elected board members are too often acclaimed, turnout for board elections is poor and voters are apathetic.

Lauren Butler has two children who attend elementary school. She's worried about the impact job action would have on her family.

"All of us have to work in order to make money to live and without having school for the kids, you've got to make extra arrangements and pay more money for after-school programs and all that stuff," she said.

"It's going to be really bad."

During last year's contract dispute with the province, teachers adopted work-to-rule, carrying out only the minimum amount of work required by their contract.

Butler said she didn't like how her kids missed a lot of extracurricular activities because of that.

What job action could take place isn't clear

On Wednesday, teachers union president Liette Doucet didn't specify what kind of illegal job action teachers would be willing to take, but said the union was committed to giving parents notice.

Doucet has pointed to the removal of principals and vice-principals from the union and the creation of a teachers' assessment office as proof that the changes will hurt students, not help them.

Ed Carvery has two grandchildren in the school system. He said he doesn't see any winner in this dispute, only a loser — the students.

Carvery said one of his grandchildren said she doesn't want to go to school in the summer.

"If a Grade 3 person is already talking about the possibilities of what the strike will do, then the adults should take the time to think about the end result and who is most affected, which is the children," said Carvery.