Halifax – After four years of effort, AIMS now has a new ally in its struggle to secure the public release of basic information about the performance of Nova Scotia’s public schools. Ironically, much of what AIMS has been seeking is information that is available as a matter of course in neighbouring provinces, such as: attendance rates, discipline statistics and exam marks.
The Nova Scotia Freedom of Information/Protection of Privacy Review Officer, in a series of recently delivered reports, forcefully stated that the release of this information is in the public interest. He ordered that the Boards should move immediately to release the information requested by AIMS and put processes in place to ensure the information is easily accessible in future.
AIMS was forced to apply under the FOI/POP legislation when Nova Scotia school boards refused to provide the information, or demanded tens of thousands in dollars in fees to produce it. In New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador this information is readily available without need to resort to FOI requests and Prince Edward Island’s two school districts provided all the information requested for a fee of $2,000.
“In Newfoundland and Labrador, one click of the mouse and this information is at your disposal, in Nova Scotia we are at four years and counting,” says AIMS Vice President Charles Cirtwill, a co-author of AIMS annual High School Report Card. “I am overjoyed that the Review Officer agreed with AIMS that the public interest is being flouted by the failure of our education system to openly track and report basic information.”
In his report, Review Officer Darce Fardy wrote; “[I]t’s my view for a school board to be “fully accountable” it should be in a position to provide the type of statistics being requested in this case in a timely fashion and should require schools to provide that kind of information to school boards.” And he recommends that school boards “put processes in place to provide similar information (to the public) at a minimal cost in the future…”
AIMS requested the information as part of the data collection for its annual Atlantic Canadian High School Report Card. It has produced three report cards and is working on the fourth and fifth.
“If we want to make our schools better, we have to know what their individual strengths and weaknesses are, based on real verifiable data. And we have to know how they perform compared to each other, so that we can see who is to be emulated and who needs help,” says Cirtwill. “The recommendations about openness and accountability made by Mr. Fardy will greatly help everyone with an interest in the education system in Nova Scotia.”
The Nova Scotia school boards have 30 days to reply to the Review Officer’s recommendations.
To read the Decision Reports, please click the links below:
For further information, contact:
Charles Cirtwill, Vice President and Director of Operations
Barbara Pike, Director of Communications
902-446-3543 – o; 902-452-1172 – cell