The Nova Scotia Liberal government locked out its students this morning. It's hard to find a better illustration of the folly of "running government like a business."
The stated reason for cancelling school is that if teachers work to rule, some students might be left unsupervised, and that this would be an unacceptable sacrifice of their safety that the government cannot allow ("Children locked out of school by province," Reality Bites post by Jacob Boon, December 3). OK, let's pretend that they mean this. Now, it might be true that no student will be left unsafely unattended at school today. But you can be damn sure that some kids have been left un- or under-supervised at home. The government locked students out with less than 48 hours notice, on a weekend.
Let's set aside for a moment the way that this disproportionately harms parents in vulnerable circumstances—those who don't have access to a network of reliable childcare and who cannot afford to miss work. Instead, just think of the likely overall effects of this approach. I'm sure many parents haven't been able to come up with good childcare arrangements on short notice, and so will have been forced to pick the best of a bad set of options. I'd be willing to bet that overall, today, more kids are "unsafe"—and for a much longer time—due to under-supervision than if the teachers worked to rule with kids in school. And that's granting the government worry that teachers really would leave thousands of kids entirely unsupervised after school.
The difference is that the kids who are currently unsupervised aren't the government's responsibility. They're the parents'. If a kid is hurt today, it'll be the parents who are to blame (legally, that is), not the government. I can't think of a better illustration of the absurdity of this basic approach to governing. "Increasing citizens' exposure to risk so as to limit government's exposure to liability" isn't bad as a working definition of neoliberalism. —Mathieu Doucet, Kitchener, ON
Stephen McNeil's government already had the students whole lives at "risk" by refusing to ensure each child receives what he/she needs to be effectively educated, believing the public has not caught on to their incompetence. —posted by Cheryl Watson at thecoast.ca
Unbelieveable! They locked out students because teachers are going to do what is required of them contractually? Goes to show how much teachers do that they don't get paid for! How many of us would do the work of a teacher and not get paid for it? I bet not many! —posted by Pat Richards
As Boon writes: "It's an unusual admission from the province that the current school system is apparently unmanageable without teachers working above-and-beyond the terms of their contract." Hey Karen Casey, do you need it spelled out better? My wife already spends 10 to 14 hours a day on her students. Fix the system. —posted by John R. Levac
How is this the government's fault? Teachers would have striked after Christmas break was over—they are worried about themselves, not the students. Government did them a favour by not locking them out, and is doing all taxpayers a favour by not funding their unreasonable demands. —posted by ThaGrease
Both sides claim that they care about the students' education, yet what is not happening today? This is totally not acceptable regardless of who we blame. —posted by Great Value
A world of thanks
How could you, as a paper for the people, ever put out a poll asking "Besides a dumb tree, what else should Nova Scotia send to Boston every November?" (Survey Says, November 24). Let alone include options like a box of Pot of Gold chocolate, or a statue of "Ben Affleck shaved out of donair meat." Ask anyone still alive the gratitude that they had for Boston during Nova Scotia's greatest time of need. You, sir, are a pig. I would send every tree to Boston if asked. —Phil Hall, Dartmouth
Pot of Gold should not even be sold in this area anymore after what Hershey did, pulling their plant out of Dartmouth to make their gunk in sunny Mexico. Not that it will topple their company, but I avoid purchasing any of their products and brands. —posted by dartguy