Mother concerned after child sent home from school with NSTU flyer
Union says it has cautioned members not to distribute union materials in schools or to students
A Halifax-area mother says she's concerned her child is being unwittingly caught up in education politics after he was sent home carrying a Nova Scotia Teachers Union flyer.
Candice Rideout says her seven-year-old son carries a folder to school to bring home information pamphlets and forms to sign.
On Friday, Rideout says when her son arrived home, the folder contained a single sheet of paper with an NSTU logo and a brief explanation of the union's position. The flyer asked for support in signing a petition and contacting MLAs.
"My first thought, I guess, was that my child should not be used as a medium for the teachers union, or the teachers in particular, or the school at all to be pushing propaganda through him," Rideout said.
This came home in my son’s folder today. As if I need more of their agenda pushed down my throat. I hear it all over TV and radio already. My child is not a propaganda distributor. I have a concern but it isn’t with <a href="https://twitter.com/NSLiberal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NSLiberal</a> it’s with <a href="https://twitter.com/NSTeachersUnion?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NSTeachersUnion</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/divideanddistract?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#divideanddistract</a> <a href="https://t.co/Ygyw4vHGfT">pic.twitter.com/Ygyw4vHGfT</a>—@CandiceRideout
"I don't believe that every parent agrees with what the teachers are trying to do, but then again every parent doesn't agree with what the government is trying to do. There are other ways for them to share that message."
The union took to Twitter to respond to Rideout, citing what it says is a long-standing policy:
"We can assure you that the NSTU and the Halifax County local have made it very clear these materials are not to be distributed in schools or to students."
We don't know how your child obtained the flyer. We can assure you that the NSTU and the Halifax County local have made it very clear these materials are not to be distributed in schools or to students.—@NSTeachersUnion
"I appreciate that that is their stance, and I'm glad that is how they feel," Rideout said.
"That doesn't change the fact that that isn't what happened. So either there's a mixed message that's going on there, that some teachers have not been communicated this information, or that there is a disconnect along the line there that's causing this to occur."
Rideout said the flyer came home with her son on the Friday before the long weekend, but she intends to ask the school about it on Tuesday morning.
She said her son hands his folder to his classroom teacher in the morning and receives it back at the end of the day. She doesn't know what happens to the folder during the day, or who might have placed the flyer inside.
However, she questions whether it was a teacher initiative or a school initiative, and why the material was in the school if it is against the union's policy to hand it out there. She also said she questions whether any school time or school resources went into the creation of the flyer.
Rideout's concerns come just as tensions between the government and the teachers union are heightened.
The union plans to hold a strike vote on Tuesday, although since teachers are working under a contract that was imposed in 2017, they are in an illegal strike position.