Halifax – The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) says it is Nova Scotia schools and school communities, not the Minister, who should call the shots in government schools.

In ‘Yes, Minister’ is a No-No: Why good television makes for bad education policy, AIMS points out the Department of Education has wasted an opportunity to make a real difference in OUR public education system. The review of school board governance does little more than tweak a system that needs a major overhaul. Rather than worrying about how the bureaucratic pieces fit together, we should focus on making the system more accountable to parents, students and the wider community.

The Paper, based on its submission for the department’s consultation process on school board governance, reviews what has gone wrong with the school board structure in the province, and draws on international results to show how things can be made right.

Co-authors Charles Cirtwill and Bobby O’Keefe point out that making small tweaks in an attempt to fix governance doesn’t address the real issue. Governance problems in the Nova Scotia school board system are only a symptom of a greater problem of a lack of accountability in government schools to the communities they serve.

“Real solutions to fixing accountability can be found in several places around the globe,” says Cirtwill. “Edmonton, New Zealand, and even New Orleans have found that the solution to fixing their education problems is to make schools directly accountable to the communities they serve, as well as giving those schools and their communities the power to run their schools in the best way possible for the community.”

In Yes, Minister, the authors move beyond the governance problems that are being used as a smokescreen for further centralization and recommend changes for the whole system that put children, parents, and schools ahead of bureaucracy.

“Local control is the key to better educated kids,” says Cirtwill. “You don’t get local control through regional school boards and departmental appointments. Autonomous schools have flourished throughout Canada and around the world. Ten years ago Nova Scotia opened the lid on this discussion and it was slammed shut by the education establishment in this province. The current ‘crisis’ in Board governance is just the crowbar we need to force the box open again.”

The Nova Scotia Department of Education released a discussion paper in July as part of a public consultation process. The deadline for submissions was September 2nd.

The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies is an independent, non-partisan public policy think tank based in Halifax. It has published extensive research on public education, including the AIMS Annual Report Card on Atlantic Canadian High Schools.

To read the full report, click here.


For more information, contact:

Charles Cirtwill, AIMS Executive Vice President

Barbara Pike, AIMS Director of Communications