What Were They Thinking?

Back to article »

  • principals are members of the same union because public schools follow a collegiate model, where principals and vice principals are not intended to work as managers, but rather educational leaders. rather than pressing teachers for results, their chief role is meant to be mentoring. as our system becomes more business modelled, principals and vice principals become powerless managers, and have no time to spare for mentoring and training. it’s one of the big losses in this province’s direction on education. though your article contains many factually and philosophically incorrect items, i thought i’d clear this one up for you.

    david | December 11, 2016 | Reply

    • David thanks for your comment.

      If principals are not intended to be managers, who are ?

      Are you saying that anyone who gets a B. Ed needs no management as a teacher, just mentoring and support, and too bad for the students if it does not produce results ?

      Bill Black

      Bill | December 11, 2016 | Reply

  • Wow, quite the responses to your article Bill. I must also be an ignorant taxpayer because I thought your ideas were reasonable and worth exploration.
    First I want to comment on whether there is any “oxymoron” in your article. The article states ” union directives went well beyond withdrawing from volunteer activities”. Clear to me that your are talking about activities OTHER THAN volunteer activities. Obviously the education system failed those who cannot read the complete sentence and understand it, without letting their emotions cloud their judgement.
    Second regarding the IPP. Did not sound like a bad idea to me, but I must admit as a concerned taxpayer I, like you, appear to lack character. Again the point I took from the comment is there have to be other alternatives explored to improve things. There maybe better ways of doing things. Maybe limitations on IPP is not the best idea, but one thing for sure Bill, you, at least have put an idea on the table which is one more then any teacher or union has put forward.
    If these people represent teachers I can see why the education system is in trouble. Intolerance to others, unprofessional , my way or no way attitude, and inability to read and comprehend. Responses like these are not from people concerned for students, they are from people concerned for themselves.

    barry h | December 11, 2016 | Reply

    • Barry thanks for this.
      It is good to have a lively comments section.
      My example involving IPP’s was not well chosen.


      Bill | December 11, 2016 | Reply

  • “Establish a limit on the number of Individual Program Plans that any one teacher is expected to manage. That may mean some students do not get a program they need, but it may be a necessary…”

    This is truly one of the most ignorant and irresponsible opinions I’ve ever read on any subject. Your lack of compassion for those with special needs – and their right to an adequate education – shows a lot about your character or lack thereof.

    Hart Stoffman | December 10, 2016 | Reply

    • My goal was to identify places where the government could make changes that responded to teacher frustrations.

      The particular choice on IPP’s was a lousy one and I will say so in the paper next week. I will quote you, anonymously.


      Bill | December 11, 2016 | Reply

  • Two major concerns regarding this article:
    1. “The teachers’ union directives went well beyond withdrawing from volunteer activities, although there is no indication that the union expected its members to receive less than full pay.” – You do understand the oxymoron here don’t you? When someone volunteers, they are not paid. You just said that teachers had withdrawn their involvement in volunteer (unpaid) services and then questioned why they were still getting paid a full salary. Teachers get paid for fulfilling their contract obligation – that is what work to rule is demonstrating. Parents and community members are just now seeing how much volunteer work is done by teachers.
    2. “Establish a limit on the number of Individual Program Plans that any one teacher is expected to manage. That may mean some students do not get a program they need, but it may be a necessary step toward a more nuanced solution.” How would you propose teachers do that? Should it be a “Sophie’s Choice” type of solution? Suzy gets an IPP but Johnny has to fail all of his classes, despite both of them having severe learning disabilities. How do you think parents would react to that scenario. “Sorry Mr. and Mrs.Smith – we already have two IPPs in your son’s class and therefore he won’t be getting one this year. Better luck next year!” As a learning centre teacher, I don’t advocate for a student to be put on an IPP willy-nilly. But if a child cannot meet the outcomes no matter what you do, you have no choice. You must meet the child where they are at and help them improve. Anything else would negligent.
    Your suggestions demonstrate that you don’t really understand how things work in a real classroom. Teachers do. It wouldn’t hurt for you to ask before making suggestions.

    Heather Hollis | December 10, 2016 | Reply

    • Heather thanks for your posting.

      (1) ” When someone volunteers, they are not paid. You just said that teachers had withdrawn their involvement in volunteer (unpaid) services…” Actually I didn’t say that. I said the withdrawals went well beyond volunteer activities, and included refusing to attend meetings about student performance and enter electronic records.
      (2) You are right, and an even more strident comment in the same direction was also received. I will acknowledge same next week.

      Bill Black

      Bill | December 11, 2016 | Reply

  • Negotiations usually only succeed when both parties have something to gain and something to lose.

    Premier MacNeil created a process and an environment, before the normal process even started, that guaranteed the union had nothing to gain and everything to lose, if they bought into his process.

    By refusing to negotiate under those conditions the union has escaped the box that MacNeil had intended for them, and instead they have put MacNeil in the box. MacNeil has only two options to get himself out of this mess. Either give the union more or enact the legislation that he has threatened.

    If one is going to threaten to enact legislation to end the negotiation process then one might as well pass the legislation early on in the process. Why wait for a miracle??? The union has absolutely nothing to lose by doing exactly what they are doing. Are the teachers losing any pay? Is the union loosing dues? Is the union losing credibility? Is the union making the government look bad, indecisive and incompetent?

    The union has a strategy based on logical thinking. MacNeil has neither a strategy or logical thinking.

    barry h | December 10, 2016 | Reply

  • It isn’t very often that a dispute arises where Both Parties take totally wrong and improperly thought through approaches with no strategy for a reasonable conclusion; BUT they have managed to accomplish it on this occasion.

    Bob MacKenzie | December 10, 2016 | Reply

  • Bill,

    There is no way the Liberal government can alter it’s wage pattern. That is why they keep referring to it as a “wage pattern” versus a wage incentive. The NSGEU and NSNU will be held to the same. If they offer increases any sooner in the contract they will need to find millions in retro pay for the nearly 40,000 civil servants which we all know is not being held in reserve. Back loading the contract allows them to ignore this and get past this spring’s crucial budget which I am sure will be announced as a balanced one. By having a “wage pattern” in play they can also use two years of wage freezes as estimates for their budgeting without challenge. It’s a pay later scheme so they can balance the books for a trip to the polls in the spring even though they have pent up wage increases. As for the classroom, the white elephant is their Inclusion program which no one will call a failure in public. The real savings are in merging into 2 school boards. Several positions at the Dept. of Ed. exist to ensure that all the numerous boards follow the same programming. SO much micro-management and duplication. Teachers would love the freedom of transferable seniority a perk at the table that outweighs a modest budget increase. If McNeil thinks he’s got problems with NSTU he’s got a dragon to slay with the cash rich NSGEU. He needs to get outside the box and be more collaborative at the table. Writing letters back and fourth is 1960’s negotiations.

    James Cox | December 10, 2016 | Reply

  • Too many cooks spoil the broth. (Remind you of health-care?) That’s what I’m “thinking”.

    Why not encourage government to DO only those things that can’t be provided by the private sector. That is, encourage choice. Fair choice. Fair should recognize the unloading of the public system (not to mention the satisfaction of raising the quality of the present backwardation.

    Consider too, that this is much wider spread than Nova Scotia … . Perhaps we can lead for a change.

    Gordon a.... | December 9, 2016 | Reply

  • Both sides have done a terrible job at communicating . Both side should have released their proposals to the public once talks broke down . We are all having to rely on “he said”, “she said” . The Union has said things in their work to rule that are apparently against the Education Act , at least when it comes to the Principals, as in the Act they are given defined responsibilities and a work to rule cannot legally over ride that . The Union didn’t tell that to the teachers son even the teachers may not know the Principals. have to follow a “law” regardless of the Union contract . So , by not being crystal clear with students and parents , both sides have twisted the situation into a confused state.The silence from the school boards is also adding to the confusion .

    peter S | December 9, 2016 | Reply