Follow-up survey shows N.S. teachers, education minister still differ on key issues

Pencils are at the ready on a teachers desk at Bruns Academy in Charlotte, N.C. on July 24, 2017. Davie Hinshaw / The Canadian Press/AP

A survey released in February by the Educators for Social Justice has been followed up with another survey which pushes back on answers provided by the government in the wake of the initial report.

The Teachers’ Voices Survey illustrated the uneasiness felt by educators over a few key issues such as being chronically under-resourced and the increasing demand on their time.

At the time, Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill indicated that much had been done to mitigate the concerns since the survey took place between January 2018 and February 2019.

But several months later, those same concerns continue to be top of mind for teachers.

READ MORE: Survey of Nova Scotia teachers show lingering issues since last contract imposed

566 teachers responded to the survey with 98 per cent disagreeing with the statement that “the teachers’ concerns raised in the report were old and issues have vastly improved.”

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Of those, 88 per cent strongly disagreed with the statement.

Additionally, 96 per cent of respondents disagreed with that they are seeing “demonstrable impacts” from “the hiring of nearly 200 support staff,” 78 per cent of which were strongly opposed to that statement.

Finally, 15.7 per cent of respondents agreed with the minister’s previous comment that “behavioural challenges in classrooms” were their biggest concern.

Lack of student supports including specialists, and teacher workload and mental health ranked first and second out of the six options with 37.1 and 27.2 per cent, respectively.

“I think what it indicates is that the teachers are definitely feeling a lack of respect in that they’re not being listened to,” said Molly Hurd, member of Educators for Social Justice.

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“They’re not being listened to on a daily basis and when this report came out it was basically dismissed.”

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Lack of preparation time during the school day came in just below at 13.2 per cent followed by the relationship between teachers and the provincial government at 5.1 per cent and teacher recruitment and retention garnered 1.5 per cent of the respondents.

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Hurd says the survey shows exactly why teachers need to be consulted over such issues, something Educators for Social Justice says has been lacking for years.

“Teachers are the experts, they’re the ones in the classroom,” she said. “They’re the ones that are dealing with children on a day-to-day basis and they should be the ones that are being consulted.”

In an emailed statement, Chrissy Matheson, a spokesperson for the department of education said that they’ve “received feedback from parents, teachers, administrators and many more telling us that the system needs to change. We couldn’t agree more.”

Matheson added that the department is in “year one of a five year roll out of inclusive education improvements.”

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