African Nova Scotians worried about representation as school boards eliminated - InfoNews

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African Nova Scotians worried about representation as school boards eliminated

Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill speaks during a press conference in Halifax on Wednesday, January 24, 2018. Nova Scotia's education minister says he is open to minority communities nominating members of a new 15-member advisory council on education that will replace the province's seven English language regional school boards. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
March 02, 2018 - 11:25 AM

HALIFAX - African Nova Scotians and other minority communities will have input as the province remodels schools administration under sweeping reforms, the education minister says.

Zach Churchill said he wants full community involvement in the selection process for the new education advisory council that is to replace the province's seven English-language regional school boards.

"I want that to happen," Churchill said. "We want this to be a fair process where we get good people who can contribute to good outcomes for kids in our province."

Minority groups have voiced concerns about losing their elected representatives through legislation introduced Thursday that will eliminate the school boards by March 31.

Archy Beals, the African Nova Scotian representative on the Halifax Regional School Board, said Friday his community is concerned about losing its voice to a large bureaucratic body.

"We need to have a strong voice at the table and we need to have a non-partisan voice and a transparent voice so that we are not just rubber-stamping what governments ask," said Beals.

Beals says there are concerns about who will be appointed to the 15-member council.

He said the members of the African Nova Scotian school board caucus have written to Churchill but have received no response. He said they've also submitted the names of four people to sit on a transition team that will shepherd in the creation of the new advisory council, but have not heard back.

"The problem with that is, you are hand-picking people," said Beals. "Where's the transparency in that? Where's the non-partisan piece in that?"

Beals said he believes a system of community nominations could be a part of the change process.

However, he also defended the school boards as they are currently constituted, saying minority representation on the Halifax board has worked to make substantial changes. He pointed to reports on the incidents of racism and discrimination under the board's auspices, and work on culturally relevant teaching methods.

"Granted there are some things that we need to change and work on, but throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not the solution."

Churchill said there would be minority input as part of the transition team that will advise his department on the terms of reference and selection process for the advisory council.

In addition to minority seats on the council, two new executive director positions representing the African Nova Scotian and Mi'kmaq communities will also be created at the Education Department as part of sweeping reforms based on a recent report by education consultant Avis Glaze.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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