Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill’s answer that a nationwide shortage of education specialists is to blame for unfilled positions doesn’t hold water for some already in the school sector who think vague job descriptions and unclear expectations are playing a large factor as well.
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, one education specialist in the province said the sweeping changes being made to the education system have resulted in a haphazard hiring process, which is likely going to deter candidates from entering the field.
“I know several people who’ve applied for these jobs and I ask them, ‘What’s the salary going to be? I don’t know. How many days a year are you working? I don’t know.”
They say typically specialists such as speech language pathologists and school psychologists would know by the time the school year ends where they’ll be working in the coming year. But now, weeks after the bell rang on the 2017-2018 school year, those educators are unsure of what September holds.
The concerned parties say attempts have been made to speak with department staff, but so far those efforts have gotten them nowhere.
“There’s been phone calls made requesting a group consultation with several of us that are willing to sit down with Mr. Churchill and speak to him about our concerns and about our ideas to solve some of the problems,” they explained.
“We’ve had no response.”
While there’s a level of uncertainty over the specialist positions, some details in posted job descriptions have also brought on concern.
Potentially changing from a 10-month schedule to a twelve-month one and the possibility of working evenings and weekends are stipulations existing specialists say would make detrimental differences in their personal and professional lives.
“They’re unilaterally changing that with zero consultation. I get no say in that,” they said. “Except here’s the problem, I do get a say in that because I can leave.”
Global News also recently learned that the new specialists would be hired outside of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, which they had traditionally been a part of.
It’s decisions like these they say could drastically alter not only the roles in question, but also the province’s professional educator landscape.
“You take those benefits away and we will be looking elsewhere,” they explained. “You may not see the problems in recruitment and retention this year but come back in a few years and you’ll see a massive shift.”