How does Section 31 of the Education Act affect StFX education students?
Five universities (St. Francis Xavier, Acadia, Cape Breton, Mount Saint Vincent, and Sainte-Anne) have officially launched legal action against the Nova Scotia’s Teachers Union (NSTU).
The proceedings were announced on January 30 in the Supreme Court of Canada. The subject in dispute is Section 31 of the Nova Scotia Education Act.
Section 31 states: “Every school board and every teacher employed by a school board shall admit to classrooms under the jurisdiction of the board students who are enrolled in a teacher training course approved by the Minister and the instructors of those students for the purpose of observation and teaching practice, and shall give them any assistance requested by the instructors.”
Dr. Kent MacDonald, president of StFX, recently issued a public statement on behalf of the six universities’ legal decision.
“The urgency of this situation required the matter be placed before the Supreme Court as the best way to stand up for students and protect their interests. If the job action continues, nearly 300 of our students will not graduate on time, causing harm and risk to their future careers,” MacDonald said.
“I know all my colleagues are deeply concerned about the seriousness of this issue and its potential long-term impacts on our students and universities. We have asked the court for an early hearing date and hope that an emergency injunction will be granted so that education students may begin their Teacher Practicum without further delay. The interests of our students must be recognized and acted upon,” he continued.
The StFX dean of education chose not to be interviewed to avoid having his opinion affect the open case.
This issue has attracted a lot of attention throughout the past several months because of its effect on high school students. It is now becoming apparent that the strike has serious negative consequences for the teachers themselves. By not allowing students in educational fields to graduate they are weakening the future of their faculty.
“It cut our practicum short in December, which wasn’t ideal, but it will make our teaching better in the long run hopefully,” an anonymous student source from the StFX Faculty of Education said.
But although there is a current surplus of substitute teachers looking for full-time jobs, that could easily change in a decade.
If students collectively lose their respect for high school teachers from their recent conduct, then the abundance of qualified applicants may slowly diminish. NSTU members may then have to withhold from their retirements for even longer.
Even with legal action finally taken it is unsure whether or not the class of 2017 will collectively graduate on time but The Xaverian will continue to follow this story as it develops.