It’s been one year since Avis Glaze presented Nova Scotians with her “Raise the Bar” report.
Although educators describe the results of the report in harsh terms, the government did make the decision to scrap recommendations that the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) found to be unpalatable.
Glaze, an internationally-recognized education consultant, produced a report recommending creating three independent bodies — a college of educators, a student progress assessment office, and an education ombudsperson — as ways to increase trust, accountability, and transparency.
The college of educators was to be an independent, self-regulating body to license, govern and regulate the teaching profession. Glaze wrote that the model is “well-established elsewhere and in other professions.”
The student progress assessment office was supposed to establish an assessment division “to develop high-quality student assessments, reporting directly to the public” on student results. The education ombudsperson is another independent office recommended to “investigate and resolve concerns or complaints on administrative decisions and practices.”
None of the three have been created in the first year, and two are off the table entirely.
The college of educators and student progress assessment office were eliminated after negotiations with the NSTU, which was threatening an illegal strike.
“We did do that to avoid what could have been a really catastrophic situation for our students and for teachers,” said education minister Zach Churchill, adding that he does not have a mandate to pursue creation of a college.
WATCH: Paul Wozney talks accountability and transparency of Glaze report
But the NSTU accuses government of cherry-picking and says teachers aren’t responsible for that.
“There were parts of Dr. Glaze’s report that the union did comment and stand behind,” said Paul Wozney, president of the NSTU.
“The idea of wraparound supports for students, increasing the kind of supportive resources — there were elements of the report that there was value in. But the government chose not to do those and chose elements of the report that ultimately further deconstructed, further punished the teachers’ union for opposing the government’s previous legislation.”
As for the education ombudsperson, the government says it’s in discussions with other departments interested in creating an independent child and youth advocate. But Churchill also points out that the provincial ombudsman’s office believes it’s already doing that work.
“I think it’s further evidence of the way in which the minister has cherry picked the recommendations of these reports that fit with what I can only assume is the already existing plan,” said NDP education critic Claudia Chender.
Going forward, there are still more than half of Glaze’s recommendations left to implement. Many of those involve creating strategies: for things like rural and French language education, poverty, and teacher recruitment and retention.
Avis Glaze wrote that it was her hope “that this report and the recommendations that follow will help build a more student-centered school system with continuous improvement as its raison d’être.”
Education consultant Paul Bennett’s takeaway on the result is different.
“The school system is managed very much as it was, but the public does not have a public voice in the form of parent participation, and we don’t have the accountability structures that were promised in the Glaze report,” he said.
Chender says it’s “too soon to tell” what the lasting impact is, while Wozney says it has caused “chaos and confusion.”
As for the minister, Churchill says the government’s ambitious agenda on education is about equality.
“It’s important for us to remember why we’re making these changes. So we’ve had three independent reports… that identified that depending on where you went to school in Nova Scotia, your chance of succeeding varied,” Churchill said.
“So that for me as minister is unacceptable. I think no matter where you’re going to school in Nova Scotia we want the education system to be giving you the best chance at success.”