Nfld. & Labrador

NLTA demands education minister to stop 'falsehoods' about full day kindergarten

The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association says Minister Dale Kirby is 'pedalling in falsehoods' and demands he retract statements about full day kindergarten.
NLTA president Jim Dinn annd Education Minister Dale Kirby in less contentious times. (Ramonda Dearing/CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association isn't holding back in its criticism of Minister of Education Dale Kirby, accusing Kirby of lying about the association's stance on full day kindergarten.

In a press release Thursday, the NTLA said it denounces Kirby for "peddling in falsehoods" and is demanding a full retraction of his statements made Wednesday, which the union said are "false and misrepresent the NLTA's position on full day kindergarten."

The union's comments come a day after it criticized a presentation given to kindergarten teachers, asking them to "scrounge" for items to be used in play-based learning. After the NLTA called that directive "a slap in the face," Kirby shot back, calling that "pretty petty," and suggesting the NLTA and its president Jim Dinn were simply opposed to full day kindergarten in Newfoundland and Labrador to begin with. 

The head of the NL Federation of Schools Council also weighed in on the "scrounge" request.

In a recent workshop for kindergarten teachers, a handout from the provincial government suggested they scrounge for their played-based, or "loose parts," materials. (Submitted)

"I couldn't believe the arrogance in which he approached the president of the NLTA," Peter Whittle said. 

"This has been an issue for a very long time and to deny that it exists is absolutely disingenious."

Whittle said it's part of a bigger problem in the province. 

We are supposed to have a system where there are no fees, books are provided, yet there are all these deficits in the system," Whittle told CBC News on Thursday.

Peter Whittle; "We keep saying that education has been cut to the bone and it's been cut to the bone at the classroom level and there is no better example than teachers have to go out and find supplies." (John Gushue)

"It is a socioeconomic issue and I think the minister should really look at it through that lens and really re-consider how they are doing it."

Thursday, the NLTA called for a full public retraction of those remarks, stating it has long supported full day kindergarten, albeit with a caveat that doesn't exactly mesh with the provincial directive for its teachers to scrounge for supplies.

"The NLTA has consistently stated that full day kindergarten must be fully resourced and cannot be financed on the back of the rest of the system," the union stated, adding Kirby's comments distract from the real issue, of teachers having the necessary materials in order to do their jobs.