Charles Cirtwell says the recent posturing from the NDP, the opposition, and school boards concerning cuts to public education has been disappointing — if predictable.

“When you use the word ‘cuts,’ everybody gets into their trenches and starts throwing things back and forth and you don’t get anything done,” said the president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a right-of-centre think tank based in Halifax. “All you do is agitate people, put people in a panic situation, and waste money.”

The problem, for all sides, is how best to deliver education to students when enrolment is decreasing, the cost of education is increasing, and the province is broke.

Cirtwell said instead of focusing on solutions to this problem, the discussion has devolved into, “How many are you going to cut, how many are going to leave, and what happens to those people who are laid off.”

“You should be terrified,” he said.

Cirtwell said what parents want is relatively simple — to be assured their children will receive a high-quality education that prepares them to enter the world.

“And instead of talking to them about that —demonstrating to them that we can deliver that without having the need to have a 200-person school in every community with 500 people — we get into this exercise where it’s all about protecting the structure that existed when we were in school, when everything else in our lives has fundamentally changed. So why is education exempt?”