Parents and students support teachers

By Lois Ann Dort    

GUYSBOROUGH – Through the many twist and turns in the contract negotiations between the province and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, one thing has remained constant; support for teachers by parents and students.

On Monday morning as teachers went to work with students locked out of school, local residents rallied to support teachers at the start of the work day in communities across the province. Guysborough residents Greg and Jessica Favaro, with three children currently attending Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy, organized the rally in Guysborough at Chedabucto Place saying that they were behind the teachers 100 per cent.

As teachers made their way into the building they were greeted by cheers and applause, bringing some teachers close to tears.

Many of those who rallied in Guysborough were parents with children in school and others, such as Hilda Dort, the wife of a retired teacher whose son is currently a teacher in the area, have family members who are in the profession. Dort said of the tactics used by the government, “The Liberal government is bulling them...This is a pure bullying tactic.”

Charla Cosgrove also attended the rally in support of teachers in Guysborough. She believes teachers have legitimate concerns about class sizes and supports for students who need extra help. As for the government’s reaction to the union’s decision to move forward with a work-to-rule job action, Cosgrove said, “I think the way they went about it was completely wrong. On a weekend when parents are out at hockey or away for the weekend. This time of year they’re out Christmas shopping...to arrange child care and what not.

“In the grand scheme of things these teachers work hard and go above and beyond. That needs to be recognized,” Cosgrove said.

As the teachers started their day in empty classrooms rally participants vowed to return the following morning to welcome teachers to another day at work in a school devoid of children. But that promise did not need to be met due to an unexpected development in Province House Monday afternoon.

In a press conference Monday afternoon Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Karen Casey stated that schools would be open to students as of Tuesday, December 6. “We are pleased to announce today that all schools in Nova Scotia will reopen tomorrow morning. As of today, we are confident that the Nova Scotia Teachers Union has modified its directives to teachers in such a way that schools can now open safely.

“Since December 1, when concerns about student safety and the NSTU directives were raised by me in correspondence to the president of the NSTU, we understood that student safety was at risk...The move to introduce contract legislation and to close schools was based on a clear threat to student safety... Those circumstances have now changed and they’ve changed for the better,” stated Casey.

In a press release issued Monday, NSTU President Liette Doucet stated, “Teachers want government to make needed investments to improve classroom conditions, that’s why they are taking this stand. During work-to-rule, teachers will continue to go to work, prepared to do what’s best for children.”