Sunday, 21 October 2018

Governments are increasingly using Social Impact Bonds as a method to finance what are broadly called social services. With social impact bonds governments repay investors only if the programs improve social outcomes, for example, lower unemployment or prison recidivism. The approach has been tried in Justice and corrections, skills training, public health, child welfare, services for seniors, early childhood development, education, homelessness, supports for people with physical disabilities, and mental health to name a few. But really it’s just another flavour of privatization, writes Danny Cavanagh.

Part 1 of educator Molly Hurd’s post on charter schools ended with the question “Why are AIMS and its relatives still promoting charter schools in Canada?” Part 2 answers that question, as Hurd’ looks at the US and other parts of Canada to show that there is serious money to be made in the charter school business. But public money is diverted, teachers roles are minimized, and students pay a hefty price.

Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Paul Wozney writes on the intricacies of reporting on class size caps, and offers suggestions on improving transparency in terms of that important issue. “Now that elected school boards are gone, it’s imperative that parents are armed with the knowledge they need to advocate on behalf of their children. They must have the facts so they can hold the government directly accountable and ensure commitments that impact their children are met,” writes Wozney.

Educator Molly Hurd takes a closer look at all the hype about charter schools, most recently coming from the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), a right wing think tank. Their case is based on dubious claims, and would not be feasible in Nova Scotia regardless, writes Hurd.

The provincial government is engaged in an orchestrated effort to move education jobs out of the union sphere. 1000 school principals, 200 or more school psychologists and speech and language pathologists, social workers and new positions in the expanding Schools Plus program will no longer be unionized. “While this may be a less sensational way of weakening the unions than, say, imposing wage freezes and concessions that force teachers and other education workers out onto the picket line, it poses no less a threat to their very existence,” writes John McCracken.

NSTU president Paul Wozney on this year’s chaotic start of school: “It’s important to set a few things straight. First and foremost, contrary to what Minister Churchill has said, not having proper bus service in place for students to start the school year is not par for the course. Nor is having dozens of support and specialist positions left unfilled at this juncture, for that matter. This dysfunction is far from business as usual, and it would appear the government’s elimination of school boards has led to a great deal of confusion and turmoil within the system.”

News release: The NSTU is concerned that government has unilaterally dropped the Commission on Inclusive Education’s recommendation to create an Institute of Inclusive Education designed to “provide oversight.”he mandate of the Institute would have given oversight powers to parents of students with special needs, teachers, school administrators, the government, university education programs, and members of the Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian Communities. Instead, those powers will now be given to a lone person appointed by the province.”

Paul Wozney: “The call for a collaborative working relationship by the government has been heard. Teachers have established a new corps of leaders who are prepared to forge a new, dynamic partnership. All that remains to be seen is whether the Liberals’ call for a fresh start is authentic or whether their talking points continue to hide a disdain for the rights for teachers and public education.”