New Democratic Party Leader Dominic Cardy is lashing out against the Progress Conservative government's plan to cut 40 specialized teaching jobs, many of which would include music and physical education instructors.
Cardy hand-delivered the book What Happened to the Music Teacher? How government decides and why, to Education Minister Jody Carr's office at the Department of Education on Wednesday.
The book, written by Donald J. Savoie, a Canada research chair in public administration at the University of Moncton, is a commentary on how to enact evidence-based policy and using public officials who specialize in their departments.
"It makes me incredibly angry. Education is the fundamental gift that we pass on to the next generation," Cardy said. Carr was not present to receive the delivered book in person.
What prompted Cardy's media event on Wednesday was a change in the way the Anglophone West school district is reallocating the time spent on elementary school music and physical education at some Fredericton area schools.
District superintentent David McTimoney said previously that students will still continue to receive the required amount of music and physical education instruction that is prescribed by the provincial government. McTimoney said that makes staffing in those subjects consistent across the district's 75 schools.
By making the change, McTimoney said the district is going above the provincial guidelines for guidance counsellors and resource teachers, who work with students with special needs, by the equivalent of 13 full-time positions.
Cardy went on to criticize what he says is a lack of ownership of these decisions.
"The education minister is the education minister, he is elected by the people of this province, appointed by the premier to do the job of running this education system, and you don't pass the buck to the friend who you put in charge of that department," Cardy said.
"If the minister doesn't believe he has that responsibility it's the premier’s decision on whether or not he wants to keep someone like that in cabinet."
Cardy's critiques are also focused on the Alward government's practice of hiring political advisers to work in departments that Cardy says they may not know anything about.
"Get away from the system that this government has unfortunately continued, which is having unelected, hand-picked advisers of government ministers who have no necessary qualifications in their field giving advice," Cardy said.
"Because that's the only possible justification that minister Carr has in making the decisions he's made to support getting rid of those specialized teachers."