Drake University course upgrades won't be revoked, says Stephen McNeil
'People have earned the degree under the rules that were in place,' says premier
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says he has no plans to revoke salary increases granted to teachers in the province who took questionable upgrading courses from Iowa-based Drake University.
"We've said all along that we would not be in any form reducing salaries from any employee," McNeil said Thursday.
"People have earned the degree under the rules that were in place."
New rules regarding the Drake University program came into play earlier this week when Education Minister Karen Casey announced that even teachers pre-approved to take upgrading courses from Drake would not see their certification increased.
Casey said the courses lack rigour and have no value in the classroom.
The Drake programs came under scrutiny last year, after a CBC News Investigation revealed a growing number of Nova Scotia teachers were taking the courses — described by one educator as "bird courses" — and seeing their pay bumped up by $6,000 to $8,000.
The courses involve reading, a DVD and writing assignments, but no significant research papers or regular conversations with professors and fellow students.
Many focus on coaching sports.
Fellow teachers not happy, says McNeil
In April 2014, Casey said she was putting an end to teachers using Drake distance education, but said the 450 to 470 teachers already approved to take the courses would still be allowed to do so.
Since that time, 37 teachers have seen their licences and salaries go up, after taking Drake courses.
McNeil echoed Casey's sentiments of disappointment that the union didn't do more to discourage teachers, who were already pre-approved, from completing the courses.
"We had hoped a year ago, when this was being reviewed, that we would have received some support from the union on ensuring that no one else would have gone forward," he said. "That didn't happen."
McNeil said he's heard from many Nova Scotia teachers who are not happy that their colleagues are continuing to see upgrades through Drake University.
"We thought that the union would show leadership a year ago, to make sure the members recognized how other members were feeling. They didn't," he told reporters.
The Nova Scotia Teachers Union has not yet commented on the government's decision to deny further Drake University upgrades to teachers who were pre-approved for the courses.