Liberal leader Kevin Vickers and Opposition education critic Chuck Chiasson say all New Brunswickers should be concerned about education minister Dominic Cardy’s latest comments on education reform.
Shortly before the beginning of his so-called consultation tour on education, in an interview with CBC television, the minister cast doubt on whether he’s really interested in opinions other than his own on education reform.
“I’m not a great believer in consensus,” Cardy said. “My goal is to move ahead as quickly as possible.”
Cardy also claimed his direction on reforms were “clear.”
He also sent a message to people who disagree with his ideas.
“If people don’t like that direction the premier can replace me, or the public can replace us,”Cardy said.
“The arrogance of this minister really knows no bounds,” Chiasson said. “Why consult with people if you’re really only going to listen to those who agree with you? This consultation has to be meaningful.”
Vickers also said the minister’s plans for the coming school year are far from clear.
“He’s floated so many trial balloons it’s hard to keep track of them all,” Vickers said. “He’s talked about unspecified changes to French immersion, eliminating grades, this week he wants to change the way universities teach teachers while making unsubstantiated claims teachers are poorly trained. Other provinces are happy to hire our teaching graduates.”
Chiasson said it’s time for the premier to step in and provide some clarity on the Cardy experiment.
“We all want to find better ways to teach our children, but with no formal training or background in a matter of months after being named minister Dominic Cardy became the self- proclaimed smartest man in the room on all things education related. A lot of his ideas and statements are not backed by evidence and he’s been largely unchallenged. He’s in an awful rush to leave some form of legacy, and our kids are the ones who are going to suffer if we get these reforms wrong.”
Vickers urged the premier to listen to the real experts on education.
“We have highly talented people here in New Brunswick who actually know what they’re talking about,” Vickers said. “Many of them will tell you this constant tinkering with the system, where politicians try to leave their mark, does more harm than good. It’s not going to improve outcomes in student testing.
“If we want to make a real difference let’s focus on things like eliminating child poverty. That would make a difference to educational outcomes. Let’s continue to allow our educators to find better ways to teach our kids the basics. We can always improve. What we really need to do is stop politicians messing with the future of our children. We need to get out of the way and let the real educators do their jobs.”