The Halifax Chamber of Commerce used AIMS’ work in education as a springboard to a two part series on the state of education in Nova Scotia. Business Voice magazine came to AIMS as an independent analyst of the province’s education system and talked extensively with vice president Charles Cirtwill about the institute’s findings.
The article reads:
The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), a Halifax-based think tank, pushes for education reform, arguing the province system isn’t making the grade compared to other jurisdictions. “We haven’t lost ground, but we haven’t gained any either, which leaves us uncompetitive,” says Charles Cirtwill, AIMS’ vice president and director of operations. “Most people have this intuitive sense that our education system isn’t delivering the goods. And the data support that belief. Parents are looking more and more at remedial solutions.”
Cirtwill told the magazine that the Nova Scotia government has refocused its spending and adjusted priorities to hold ground, adding, “If we want to be more competitive, we have to do more.” And he’s adamant that money alone isn’t the solution. “The difficulty is that government isn’t tracking the outcomes of this new spending, they’re just shooting in the dark,” he says. “We have to be able to say where we were, where we are and where we’re failing, and say that at the school level.”
Cirtwill also talked about the Alberta model, which produces students who consistently score at the top of the country. He told Business Voice: “If you look at high-performance jurisdictions like Alberta, you find two concepts,” he says. “There’s a commitment to excellence and a commitment to public reporting.”
“We need to refocus: education should be about what happens in the classroom. The officials tell us that we should trust them, that everything is fine, but we need to know what’s really happening. Alberta and others have proven that being open about performance helps students and works better for teachers too.” AIMS also endorses a reformist system where individual schools are accountable for how well their students perform and parents can select the school their children attend, rather than automatically sending them to the neighbourhood school. “We’re not moving on open enrollment in public schools,” Cirtwill says, arguing that giving students a choice forces schools to work to higher standards to attract them. “Competitive pressures improve public schools and satisfaction in the public system,” he explains.
To access the complete article in Business Voice visit the Halifax Chamber of Commerce website at www.halifaxchamber.com .