Education in the Nova Scotia election

Education is a big issue in the upcoming Nova Scotia elections, where the New Democratic Party (NDP) looks to stay in power. Since being elected in 2009, they have cut $35 million from the classrooms and 650 teaching jobs. Statistics Canada reports that the province has the third-lowest funding per student in Canada. Bullying has been another topic NDP leader Darrell Dexter has been getting heat for because of increasing occurrences, and the death of Halifax teenager Rehtaeh Parsons.

When the parties released their education platforms there were many similarities, but a few major things stood out. Things such as capping class sizes, putting a stop to the massive bullying problems, spending more on special needs, and focusing more on reading and writing in the early years of schooling were in each platform. These are all great, but you have to look past these things, and at the differences between the platforms.

Starting off, the NDP government needed a great education platform to gain back some of the popularity they lost over a term that was less than magical for the province. All the NDP promised, however, is that they will improve all of the things that they have been doing wrong. They had just as many words putting down the other parties’ platforms as they did for their own promises. The NDP has not tricked the people into believing they did a good job since 2009, so why would we believe that they are going to fix the problems they caused?

Ironically, the Progressive Conservative Party (PC) and Jamie Baillie promised the most change in their platform. They want to put more accountability and higher expectations on students. This is great. From my own personal experience in high school, the system is set up so that the students who do not want to work hard or are not quite as smart as others get through without much trouble. When you hit the real world and university, life is not as fair. Nova Scotian kids are not prepared.

The worst thing about the PC’s platform is that they want to cut school boards and put money back into the classrooms.

President of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association Jamie Stevens explained why.

“There might be some savings in this model, but at what cost?” Stevens said. “The rural voice will be further diminished and fewer boards, each with more administration, will not necessarily provide savings.” Nova Scotia would not save that much money, if any at all.

Finally, we get to the Liberal Party led by Stephen McNeil, favoured by many, including myself, to win the election. They want to improve a curriculum that has not been reviewed in twenty-five years, and most importantly, cut the tax off provincial student loans for all students. As a university student with a student loan, I’m obviously biased, but think of all the opportunities this cut would create. Students are stuck with debt for years after university because of interest. New graduates with debt can barely support themselves and that means no money to start a family. And if you have money, you can even get further education.  This is what Nova Scotia should want for their residents.

Nova Scotians will hit the polls on October 8 to elect a new government to lead them for the next four years. Hopefully we all have smartened up from last time and will vote for who will make the changes we need. For me, that is the Liberals and Stephen McNeil.

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