McNeil: NDP Went from Caring About Education to Cutting
Liberal leader Stephen McNeil says the NDP’s current defence of more than $60 million in education cuts contradicts past statements they made about the importance of funding public education.
“The NDP once cared about public education,” says McNeil. “They spoke out against education cuts, against per student funding and against targeting our students – now that has changed.”
McNeil points to comments made by Premier Dexter in 2003 when Dexter said, “This is the NDP’s key commitment – to ensure that every student receives the individual attention they need in the classroom.”
McNeil says we now have fewer teachers, fewer teaching assistants and larger class sizes because of the Dexter government’s decisions – it is impossible for students to receive the attention they need.
McNeil highlights comments made by Minister MacDonald in 2008: “When I imagine the schools in the community I am so lucky to live in … I don’t imagine fewer teachers, larger class sizes, and bigger caseloads or longer wait times for specialized staff.”
McNeil says this is the kind of education system the Dexter government is creating.
“If the NDP couldn’t imagine such a system in 2008, why is the Dexter government creating such a system today?” asked McNeil.
McNeil says the Dexter government now touts per student funding as the best way to determine the education budget, but they called this approach crude and discriminatory in the past.
On March 6, 2002, Deputy Premier Frank Corbett said, “In a time of economic transition, our survival will depend on vision, knowledge and skill. It will require an educational system that will equip the next generation with these tools, not a crude per capita-based funding formula that will lead us to educational discrimination.”
McNeil says that the Dexter government owes Nova Scotians an explanation for their continually changing stance on education funding.
“For more than a decade the NDP promised to protect public education and invest in students,” says McNeil. “After getting into office they cut more than $60 million from public education – the Dexter government clearly cannot be trusted with our public education system.”
“One thing is certain – public education is not a priority for the Dexter government.”