Committee work is underway at the Legislature this fall. I am a member of both the Public Accounts and Crown Corporation Committees. Early on, I moved a motion to have the Auditor General appear before the Public Accounts Committee so we could ask about her concerns that the provincial books are being kept in a way that makes it impossible to determine the size of the deficit. The government members voted down my motion.
I have prepared a number of bills to introduce when the Legislature resumes. These include proposals to make government more transparent, to create green jobs, to encourage public participation, to provide more stability for children in foster care, and to integrate First Nations education into school curriculum as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I have been asked to sit on the advisory committee to the province’s Education Commission. The Commission has been charged with developing a 10-year education plan for New Brunswick. The idea of a 10-year plan is that it will remain in place through elections so new governments are not tempted to shake up the education system to implement their own political agendas.
We saw this happen when Frank McKenna came to power and destroyed the infrastructure that provided learning opportunities in auto mechanics, cooking, and the construction trades, replacing them with computer labs to teach computer literacy. This happened again under Shawn Graham with the changes he made to the French immersion system.
Brian Gallant is looking to achieve the goals for education laid out in his campaign platform over the next 10 years. This plan aims to:
- Improve literacy and numeracy achievement levels,
- Enhance the teaching of science, technology, engineering and math,
- Improve students’ exposure to New Brunswick’s cultures,
- Reduce bullying to ensure positive learning environments,
- Encourage the teaching of computer programming, typically called coding,
- Ensure opportunities to pursue art, music and physical education,
- Strengthen student access to learning opportunities in the construction trades,
- Improve career counselling, and
- Ensure students graduate with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college or university.
To achieve these goals, the Education Commission is asking New Brunswickers to respond to a series of questions in a discussion paper they have posted on-line. To have your say, go to www.EducationPlanNB.ca . The Commission is also consulting with individuals and organizations it believes can make a contribution to the development of the plan. The Commissioners are Karen Branscrombe Power and Gino LeBlanc. The new education plan is to be submitted to government by April 2016.
I am meeting with teachers, administrators and university researchers to hear their views.
We will also be holding a community meeting in Fredericton South to hear what you believe is working and what needs to change in our education system.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me or arrange a meeting to discuss your views or concerns.