Nova Scotia
Education Cuts

Students Protest Education Cuts

By Jena Cole, Grade 12 Student
SNN Co-Editor
Cole Harbour High School
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

In the last week I have attended two protests concerning the Nova Scotian education cuts. These protests have made me proud to be a student. It is an amazing feeling to be united with so many other students and teachers fighting for a cause. It is a shame that such a drastic occurrence has caused this unity.

It concerns me as a student to think of going through school with classes of 50 people. I am in a class of 38 right now. It is too big, hard to concentrate. I am a grade 12 student, not a university student. High school classes should be smaller due to the age and maturity difference of the students.

Students protest education cuts
in front of Province House in
Halifax last week.

Tim Krochak /Herald Photo
Copyright © 2000 The Halifax Herald Limited

I am artistic. I would not have made it through high school without classes like sociology, art, political science, literature… I am a creative thinker, bad at math and science. I cannot see how my intellect would be nurtured or appreciated in an atmosphere without classes suited to my interests or a teacher able to listen to my thoughts. Where is the time for discussion in a 50 student class? I have imagined myself going through the new proposed school system. I would be an outcast, miserable in all my classes and thought not very intelligent, when in truth I would be given no place to try. It scares me to think of letting my future children to go through this proposed system. I know that if had I gone through this I would be a drop out.

17 of the 50 or so teachers at my school have already been laid off. There were not enough teachers at my school to begin with. Jennifer King, the teacher that I will always remember, the teacher who has influenced my life, the teacher who I admire, and the teacher from whom I have learned the most has lost her job. Where will she get the chance to touch someone as she as me if she is not teaching, or even if she is teaching in a class of 50? She won’t, and it will be a great loss to many students.

I first attended a protest organized by high school students. It was an impromptu walk out that started with a junior high school walking to Cole Harbour District High School. The grade 7’s, 8’s and 9’s showed up at the school, and our entire student body walked out together; many teachers and administration staff followed us. It was a heartening sight to see such a diverse group of people holding make shift signs, in hoards walking for our education. We walked to a near by high school, Auburn High.

The students at Auburn were under strict orders not to walk out. The group I was with circled the school chanting, pleading to the students to join our march. It was a symbolic march for us. The entrances to Auburn High was blocked with police and administration. The few students with the courage to sneak out, with threats of suspension and even explosion were emotionally cheered as they joined our crowd. We continued on in the rain. The next week I attended an organized protest where there were some students from Auburn High carrying large neon green signs saying "I was suspended for supporting what I believe in". These signs were highly noticeable amongst the prefabricated white union signs. Mr. Buck, the principal at Auburn High did not support his students. I question why he is involved in education, if he will not support it. Should he not be teaching his students to stand up for themselves, for their future? Do the political science classes at Auburn high not talk about every Canadians right to the freedom of peaceful protest? It made me sad to think of the students being threatened of suspension, expulsion, or even the removal of the graduates prom if they dared to stand up for their education.

That first day we walked for four hours in the cold rain stopping at each high school along the way to the Halifax legislature. We arrived there wet and weary. During the last block of the walk my best friend Michelle and I had been holding hands, trying to keep one another from dropping from exhaustion. We reached the end of the street and saw the crowds of students in front of the legislature. It brought tears to my eyes to see so many students caring about their future. It was beautiful to see so many students united, chanting "Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! We won’t let our teachers go!".

I attended the Tuesday protest with Ms. King. I wanted to carry a sign exclaiming that this was my teacher, and she had changed me forever. To tell how it would have been impossible for that to happen in a class of 50, and that the class that she taught me, Political Science and Sociology wouldn’t even be offered with the lack of teaching staff. I went there to support all of the teachers laid off, and for the future of my province. We deserve an education. Everyone needs the same chance to learn.

Students across Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada: Tell us your story on how education cuts in your province are affecting you and your school. We will add it to this editorial by Jena Cole. If you have video tape of what’s happening in Nova Scotia, send it to us.