In light of the provincial government’s projected deficits, belt tightening and anticipated budget cuts, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association (NLTA) has launched a media-public campaign to protest any spending cuts to education.
In a video message posted to the association’s website, NLTA president Lily Cole says government must hear the voices of parents and teachers to stop any cuts to education. She says Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy’s projections are a return to surplus in two years, and making cuts that will impact the education system long-term are not wise.
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“We would caution most strongly against spending cuts in education that would negatively affect the system over the long term, based on what is projected to be a temporary deficit situation,” Cole says. “Ironically, while the premier and finance minister have been emphasizing the likelihood of significant deficits for the next two fiscal years, we are also receiving news from all quarters about the prosperous state of our economy.
“Now is not the time to reduce the investment in education. Government is not reducing its investment in its equity share of Hebron. Government is not reducing its investment in Muskrat Falls and government should not be reducing its investment in education — our children’s future.”
In provincial pre-budget consultations over the past number of years, Cole said the NLTA has requested additional funding to address critical areas for education, students and teachers. Any cuts to education directly impact a teacher’s ability to meet the needs of students in the classroom, she said.
“Now is not the time for larger class sizes that lessen teachers’ ability to meet the diverse needs of students in today’s inclusive classroom,” Cole said. “Our classrooms have changed and now rightfully include our children with special needs. Increasing class sizes will reduce the ability of the teacher to meet the needs of all students — with or without special needs. Parents should not and will not accept insufficient numbers of teachers to meet the needs of their children.”
The NLTA’s campaign will press upon the provincial government to not make spending cuts that would negatively affect the education system, that parents should not and will not accept insufficient numbers of teachers to meet their students’ needs, and that larger class sizes lessen a teacher’s ability to meet the diverse needs of students.