Obfuscating the NDP's Cuts to Schools: what is going on in Nova Scotia

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KenS
Obfuscating the NDP's Cuts to Schools: what is going on in Nova Scotia

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KenS

From everybody in and around the government:

"What aren't the school boards cutting administration. Did you ask them anout that?"

This is especially popular with MLA's in my school district, the favourite whipping girl of this government.

They have cut adminstration cuts last year and this year by 20%. Show me a single government department that does better than 2 or 3%

Last year, that and deferred maintenance took care of most of last year's budget cuts. But the "easy stuff" is mostly over. So now its classroom teaching and other core functions like libraries.

Tthe government has told the school boards to expect the same next year, and the year after. That isnt announced to the public of course. Wouldn't want people making connections to those tax cuts.

Fidel

It sounds like Daryl Dexter is reducing funding in addition to personally micromanaging each and every school board firing. He's been busy.

KenS

Nope.

It's just classic downloading.

The opposite of micromanaging.

You get the credit for balancing the books, lower levels of government get the responsibility for making it work (or not).

And you wash your hands of the effects.

"The Boards are making the choices."

"The Boards are exagerating."

"The Boards are playing politics." Etc.

KenS

Here's the favourite obfuscation so far. My school board as scapegoat again. But this one is so popular the Premeir and Minister of Education repeat it often.

"Last year the school board threatened there would be scores of layoffs. And guess what? It didn't happen."

Last year, to kickoff 'Back to Balance' in education, the Minister tasked the Boards with identifying what we need to happen if there was to be cuts of 22%. That's right, 22%.

It's unclear what the thinking on this was. But our school board came out with its findings. They emphasisied this was an 'exercise'. but of course there was a firestorm.

That exersise slipped below the waves, but not without even then lots of finger pointing about alarminism. But who knew then how valuable a seeming flub and embarassment would turn out to be?

The powers of spin.

KenS

"The budget cuts are only in the same amounts as the decline in school enrollments."

Pictures of empty classrooms, "half-empty schools," etc.

After the pushback from parents when the size of cuts were first floated, Premier Dexters unequivocal promise was continuously repeated by Ministers and MLA's:

"Classroom teaching will not be effected."

But the school boards this year are cutting teaching positions at a rate of 3 to 4 times what is accounted for by population decline.

And caps for maximum class sizes have been raised by the province.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

The whole point of ELECTING an NDP government in Nova Scotia, if nothing else, was to at least, AT LEAST guarantee no lost ground.

If the NDP can't even do that...is it of any value at all?

Is there any difference between an NSNDP government imposing austerity and just plain keeping the right-wing party in power?

Shouldn't the party just disband if it's going to reduce the distinction to "it's enough that we didn't cut AS MUCH as a Tory government would have"?

Why can't Darrell just do what a REAL New Democrat would do at this point and raise taxes on the rick?

KenS

This is part of replacing the reality of substantial cuts to education with the spin that "there were no layoffs" that is one of the central message controls.

And the government puts a lot into it. Responsibility for the cuts is downloaded. On top of the scapegoating of recalcitrants, the government twists arms that virtually all job losses be taken care of by attrition.

And since there are lots of teachers retiring, don't cut janitors and librarians, cut more classroom teachers.

Cut teachers and 'consultants'- even if a lot of them are front line people working with students. What matters is no bodies in the hallways.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Dexter needs to be replaced as NSNDP leader..  A provincial New Democratic government should be led BY A NEW DEMOCRAT...not an austerity freak.

There was never an excuse to focus on the rich man's goal of a balanced budget...or to balance that budget solely through cuts.

Fidel

Debt is the rich man's new game not balanced budgets. The new business plan under the new liberal capitalism is not to put people to work. The new business plan is not to pour concrete footings for new factories and mills. And it isn't to encourage provincial governments to balance the books. The neo business plan isn't to export our way to prosperity and pay the bills.

The new business plan is Orwellian, and it is this:

debt = wealth creation

debt equals wealth creation, and especially if there are millions of people to co-sign for the debt. Public debt is considered premium debt. Provincial resources and land will suffice as collateral in the event that capitalists shall foreclose on the debt and thus pursue asset stripping with respect to the common good. Observe how the bankers and money speculators are now laying siege to Greece and Ireland and Latvia and so on.  That's the new business plan.

Fidel

KenS wrote:

Nope.

It's just classic downloading.

They can throw the province deeper into debt or they can balance the budget. The CCF actually pursued balanced budgets before attempting socialism in one province. That was well before NAFTA and privatization of the money supply by 1991, though. Things are different in Canada today. The whole western world has changed since then.

KenS

@KB:

Well, thats the maximalist response.

But a goodly portion of the base- the overwhelming majority of it- is quite willing to at least seriously entertain the necessity of some cuts.

The reason Dexter deserves to be tossed is because he has violated that trust of the base- and obfuscated what they would not stand for if the strategy was up front, into looking like what they are willing to standd back and give the government room for.

KenS

There is already a thread for discussing the overall politics of the NS NDP's burgeoning cottage industry of austerity dieting.

DEXTER GOVT: Managing Communications with the Base on a Diet of Austerity Budgets and Tax Cuts

 

(But pssst, Fidel.... they are doing tax cuts in the middle of spending cuts. How does that work for balancing the budget?)

 

I started this as a seperate thread because

** It is around education that the Dexter government hypocrisy is so exposed.

** But the government bafflegab spin is winning the day in the media. Makes it all too easy for the innersanctum to snow the base.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Fidel wrote:

They can throw the province deeper into debt or they can balance the budget. The CCF actually pursued balanced budgets before attempting socialism in one province. That was well before NAFTA and privatization of the money supply by 1991, though. Things are different in Canada today. The whole western world has changed since then.

Things are different now we can only hope to elect the NDP for thirty years straight and everything should be as good as it was in 1983.

KenS

Quote:

 

.... downloading .....

 

You get the credit for balancing the books, lower levels of government get the responsibility for making it work (or not).

And you wash your hands of the effects.

"The Boards are making the choices."

"The Boards are exagerating."

"The Boards are playing politics." Etc.

 

As one Board member told me:

"Our problem was that we were not playing politics. But we're learning from the government. "

Learning at the hands of a good teacher.

KenS

Rumour has it by the way that Board Chair Carvery is planning to run for the PCs in the next election. North End Halifax, the Needham riding of Health Minister Maureen MacDonald, is rock solid NDP. But the Carverys are African - Nova Scotian movers and shakers in the community. And people will be pissed about these cuts.

Sweet justice if the NDP ends up being threatened by the PCs as fallout from the cuts. And it will not just be in Halifax.

KenS

 

AND THE DEEP CUTS GO ON

...and on, and on...

 

Three more school boards announced their cuts last night.

Halifax school board cuts 152 teaching positions

 

Quote:

The Dexter government has cited declining enrolment as the motivation for the cut in funding to the province's school boards.

"If declining student population determined the amount of cuts boards should have received, then our board should have only received a cut that relates to 25 teaching positions," Carvery said. "But, in fact, these cuts are resulting in 152 classroom teachers being affected."

 

Quote:

Bigger classes, fewer course options

 

"It's going to result in probably larger class sizes, you're going to see more combined classrooms, and you're probably going to see fewer course offerings at the high school level," Carvery said.

 

But, the Dexter government gets what they want:

Quote:

Most of the cuts will be absorbed by not replacing teachers who are already planning to retire.

That means no teachers will be laid off.

 

Good. When the MLAs get pestered by the base, they can go on repeating the mantra there have been no layoffs.

Quality of education?  Oh well, sacrifices have to be made for those tax cuts.

And then there is the hopeless situation of new teachers getting jobs in Nova Scotia. But thanks to the Irvings and the money we threw at them, Dexter and company can keep crowing about shipbuilding jobs keeping our kids here.

Hey, the optics works.

KenS

Strait school board chops 48 jobs

That being 30 teaching positions and 18 support staff.

Quote:

The Strait Regional School Board is cutting 48 positions, but it doesn't expect to lay off any teachers.

So, no problems, eh.

KenS

And then there is the final coup de grace.

Our school board here finally came out with its cuts revised at the behest of the government. And after the drawn out agony of the last two weeks, my wife and most of the other librarians still got the ritual blow to the head.

But the government got what it wanted from forcing the Board to take another look: there are a still a few school libraries left. So, no screaming headlines of All Libraries Axed.

Even better, there's no headlines at all!

So, no problems, eh.

1springgarden

KenS wrote:

Rumour has it by the way that Board Chair Carvery is planning to run for the PCs in the next election. North End Halifax, the Needham riding of Health Minister Maureen MacDonald, is rock solid NDP. But the Carverys are African - Nova Scotian movers and shakers in the community. And people will be pissed about these cuts.

Sweet justice if the NDP ends up being threatened by the PCs as fallout from the cuts. And it will not just be in Halifax.

Yes, it will be sweet justice if Halifax School Board Chair Irvine Carvery can run for the PCs on an anti-cuts platform.

Similarly, the NS Liberals placed an anti-NDP education cuts ad in the Metro newspaper today.

[img]http://thegrainery.ca/images/LibsvsCuts.JPG[/img]

It reads, "Reverse the Dexter government's $65 million in cuts to public education"

It will be good (and interesting) if the NDP austerity agenda gets challenged from the left by the PCs/Libs.  Don't think it can't happen, the NS PCs navigated years of minority government without getting draconian.

KenS

And super-ironic given that the government's as yet publicly unspoken talking points among the base is that the HST cuts were necessary because 'they are killing us' for the broken 2009 campaign promise to not raise taxes.

So.... we have cuts that are publicly justified on balancing the books. But really, there is an agenda to balance the books, AND bring in a tax cut. That doubles the amount of the cuts that would have been required if this was all as billed only about 'balancing the books'. And most cruel of all: the "need" for the tax cut doubled the SPEED at which the cuts needed to happen, so they could roll out the announcement of the HST cuts bfore the election.

It is the SPEED of the last 2 year's education cuts, more than the fact of them, which makes the cuts so deep.

 

FOOTNOTE: That hidden agenda of Dexter Crew to slip in the tax cut runs back AT LEAST 18 months ago. If people want, I'll elaborate the evidence of that.

Fidel

It's no wonder the feds have no money. It's because Dexter Scotia has cut billions of loonies from education transfers to the feds. How can Ottawa possibly manage after decades of uploading like this? It's upside-down neoliberalism gone awry.

KenS

Teacher cuts anger parents

Quote:

Education Minister Ramona Jennex said she doesn't feel the cuts will impact learning.

"No, I'm not at all concerned," she said Thursday at Province House.

Jennex repeated her message that the education system needs to be "rebalanced" because of enrolment declines.

The Minister's Let them eat cake moment

KenS

After the pushback from parents last year when the size of cuts were first floated, Premier Dexters unequivocal promise was continuously repeated by Ministers and MLA's:

"Classroom teaching will not be effected."

This year the line is that the cuts are in keeping with enrollment declines. But the school boards this year are cutting teaching positions at a rate of 3 to 4 times what is accounted for by population decline. And of course caps on class size have been raised, which wouldn't happen if you were only 'adjusting' numbers of teachers to school population decline.

But no, we have yesterday that Minister Jennex said she doesn't feel the cuts will impact learning. "No, I'm not at all concerned," she said Thursday.

Well, there's only so much bullshit you can spread without everyone noticing the smell.

 

 

Column: When it comes to balancing province's books, kids are easy targets

Quote:

Is this what the NDP had in mind in the 2009 election when it chose For Today's Families as its campaign slogan?

Education is being ravaged. Is there a family anywhere in this province for which education is not a primary priority?

KenS

And at that, she's letting the Dexter zombies off easy- because its not even about balancing the books any more.

KenS

In that column Stephenson nails the elephant in the room about the education cuts that is never talked about.

Marilla Stephenson wrote:

The other part of the story is that Education Minister Ramona Jennex has been keen to focus on increased education spending over the past decade, even as enrolments fell.

The part she is leaving out is how decimated the system was a decade ago, with little support for special needs students in overstressed classrooms.

The maximum classroom cap put in place by the Hamm Tories after the 2003 election was a big help, plus millions of dollars in new spending was put into classroom support for foundering students with learning challenges.

All of those areas of improvement have been under attack for the past two years. Still, Nova Scotia has the second-lowest per-student funding for education in Canada.

The government just keeps repeating the mantra that funding for schools is only going down as much as enrollments are declining.

But Nova Scotia had 15 years of Liberal and Tory governments catching us up to the 20th century in the servicing of students with more challenges. Those costs keep increasing regardless of enrollments going down- because we as a society have decided to serve those needs in schools. Functionaly speaking, those services were downloaded by government into the schools, for the Boards to deal with. Liberal and Tory governments provided the funding to take care of those added functions. Now the NDP government is taking them away.

But since those kids and their needs do not go away, then the funding shortfall has to be made up in the only place it can when the Boards have to do it NOW: in the classrooms. Fewer teachers and librarians. Bigger classes. And course offerings that have to be dropped by all but the biggest schools.

Fidel

KenS wrote:
Liberal and Tory governments provided the funding to take care of those added functions.

Provided as in past tense. They were thrown out of power for various reasons including corruption. 140 years of the same two parties in power will tend to lead to decay and rot in the halls of sub-government power. 

Today Liberal Ontario has the highest PSE tuition fees in the country with Conservative New Brunswick drafting close behind. Whether higher ed or primary-secondary, education in Canada in general is under-funded by the feds, Tory and Liberal alike.

I think it must be a decades-long provincial conspiracy to short-change the feds on funding, from health care to education in general. It makes federally orchestrated neoliberal ideology look bad. It's just not fair to our corrupt stooges in Ottawa trying so hard to make things work.

1springgarden

So should a province with a nominally social democratic government have the second-lowest per-student funding for education in Canada, when at the delivery end the province sets the funding priorities? It goes without saying that at minimum education should not have been cut faster than the rate of enrollment decline.  The NS deficit is all but eliminated, balance is in hand, well before other jurisdictions. The Dexter NDP then put HST cutting ahead of education in setting their priorities, an HST cut which promises years more of austerity.

Quote:
And at that, she's letting the Dexter zombies off easy- because its not even about balancing the books any more.

Which road would a social democrat take?

NDP members owe it to ourselves to give this Zombie-NDP hell for taking the road to the right.

Slumberjack

From our experience, exactly the road they're on.  They could have said we can't affort to serve up a few hundred million dollars on a platter to the Irvings for the construction of new warships, because we need that money to keep education and health care afloat.  They could have even did an about face like Chretien did on the subject of the GST, by saying in these difficult times, the government requires the flexability to help maintain the existing the economy as people would expect when private industry and banks exit out the back door.  They could have said that ultimately there's little difference between a public service job and one entirely subsidized by government at the Irving shipyards.  The fact that if the NDP were in opposition, and it was the Conservatives or Liberals rolling so many people into the unemployment lines, and as some would expect to hear them complaining about it in opposition at least, speaks to the fact that opposing is done for political gain, theatrics in other words, and not because it is the right thing to do on behalf of the population.

KenS

TRUTH AND LIES

Yesterday's Herald:  Education system: N.S. acting responsibly by Ramona Jennex

The Minister and former teacher gets an A for creative math. Lots of numbers in her op-ed piece, and they are deviously crafted. But they go well beyond being 'merely' disengenuous and obfuscating.

Today, the truth on some of that creative math: Numbers on class sizes.

Hunky_Monkey

KenS wrote:

Rumour has it by the way that Board Chair Carvery is planning to run for the PCs in the next election. North End Halifax, the Needham riding of Health Minister Maureen MacDonald, is rock solid NDP. But the Carverys are African - Nova Scotian movers and shakers in the community. And people will be pissed about these cuts.

Sweet justice if the NDP ends up being threatened by the PCs as fallout from the cuts. And it will not just be in Halifax.

Rumor? Irvine has said on the TV that he'd be seeking a PC nomination "somewhere" if Baillie would have him.

This from the metro news... http://metronews.ca/news/halifax/40105/halifax-school-board-chair-runnin...

He's sought two NDP nominations and lost. In 1997, he ran for the nomination in Halifax Needham and lost to Maureen. He ran in 2009 for the federal nomination in Halifax and finished last behind Alexis MacDonald and Megan Leslie. He eventually won the African Nova Scotian Representative spot on the school board and was chosen as chair.

He has quite a mixed reputation.

Another bit of triva since you mentioned the Carvery family... another Carvery, Linda, ran against Maureen and lost by 17 points in 1999. She ran again against Maureen in the next election and slipped to third place with 19% of the vote to Maureen's 50%.

And of course, Maureen won with 68% of the vote in 2009. Irvine has been described by some as an opportunist. I have doubt he'll run against Maureen.

Hunky_Monkey

KenS wrote:

TRUTH AND LIES

Yesterday's Herald:  Education system: N.S. acting responsibly by Ramona Jennex

The Minister and former teacher gets an A for creative math. Lots of numbers in her op-ed piece, and they are deviously crafted. But they go well beyond being 'merely' disengenuous and obfuscating.

Today, the truth on some of that creative math: Numbers on class sizes.

When I was in school, I don't recall any class I took that had fewer than 30 students in it...

Wait... Home Ec :)

Fidel

ChronicleHerald wrote:
Halifax has lost almost 300 teaching positions in the past two years, Allen said. About 60 of those jobs were cut due to declining enrolment, she said.

Education Department spokesman Peter McLaughlin said Friday that there may be an increase in class sizes next year, but they have been trending downward for a decade.

"The average class sizes are going to stay low in the coming year," he said. "We're (simply) balancing the resources with the number of students."

McLaughlin said enrolment provincewide has dropped by 30,000 in the last decade but the number of teachers has increased by 361.

Declining enrolment is nothing new in Ontario, either. Enrolment in this province was down by 90,000 between 2003-2009. Another 56,000 fewer expected by 2012-13. Canadians aren't have children. That's what the math says. We've had instances of classes with 30+ students sharing one textbook. One textbook for 30 kids here in the largest and most politically conservative, and then politically Liberal and vice versa backnforth provinces since Confederation, and look where we are now - a bankrupt northern Puerto Rico. Under the LiberTories it's like a banana republic! And, yes, we have no bananas other than the ones running the big show in Ottawa.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Fidel, I've received another complaint about your continued use of the phrase "northern Puerto Rico." As you've been warned several times, that phrase is against babble policy. Please refrain and find another descriptor. Thanks.

Fidel

How about, The Yes We Have No Bananas Republic du Nord? I find it difficult to keep track of the list of unwritten offensive words without an actual text to refer to.

Wouldn't it be a much shorter text to list the handful few thinly-skinned babblers who are continually offended by my political views in general? Three or four chronic complainers and whinyest of whiners perhaps?

I don't see why Canadian publisher Mel Hurtig, member of the Order of Canada, can use the term northern Puerto Rico and not I. It's printed in thousands of copies of his books and circulated around the world. 

Catchfire, can't you just tell them to either blow it out their asses or get their own forum, one or the other? Who is this courageous anonymous accuser, this capitaine of thought polizia and Winston Smith wannabe? I should swiftly and handily reduce them to smithereens in a single post if given the chance.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Just don't use the phrase, Fidel. Thanks.

Fidel

Nobody expects the inquisition sort of thing. Gotcha. Baal commands it! And it shall be done. No need for explanations it's crystal clear to me now. Trust and obey, it's the only way.  Aye-aye say no more I've heard plenty already.

Bankrupt conservative nanny state?

Bankrupt Northern icehole?

Northern banana republic with homeless polar bears?

Big-giant moose pasture run by six banks and some guys on Bay Street?

babble needs a naughty word checker app to filter words and compound terms deemed offensive to a handful few cranks and killjoys. Or at least a pinned-up thread list of terms which if typed or uttered with any closeness of proximity to the morality squad around here would be punishable by way of a good thrashing with THE pilLOWS! 

To the princess who was offended by the unmentionable term mentioned previously but no more: Fuck your world!

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Fidel wrote:
To the princess who was offended by the unmentionable term mentioned previously but no more: Fuck your world!

This is a personal attack and completely unacceptable, Fidel. You are the one who used a racist term you've been told repeatedly is offensive. You do not get to attack someone who found your colonialist attitude insulting. I'm giving you 24 hours time out.

KenS

Maybe, hopefully, we are done with silly distractions- however relevant they may be to some issues / concerns ?