Well the summer is over and a new school year, and a provincial election, are upon us, so I suppose I had better start reading the newspaper more regularly again. With this resolution firmly between my teeth what do I find today but Shawn Graham being quoted as asserting that “post-secondary education has now been reformed to meet students’ needs.” Now, okay, I have been preoccupied with other things for awhile but I haven’t been that out of the loop, surely. But just in case, let’s check:
- Four years of threats and insecurity have weakened public trust that education is supported in NB, and that trust still needs to be rebuilt.
- Despite endless rhetoric about students being the first priority, youth in NB have become used to the rug being pulled out from under their feet, from K-12 and beyond. Meanwhile, tuition at NB universities remains among the highest in Canada.
- Faculty/management relations are arguably worse than they were four years ago, in no small measure due to partisan pressures on university administrations.
- Most importantly, NB still has practically the lowest per-capita spending per student in the country. Everything else is window-dressing: adequate and secure ongoing funding is the only thing that will enable the NB PSE system to improve.
On the other hand, there are some new buildings.
But no, I really can’t see much evidence of effective reforms. Rather, I see a PSE system, historically under-resourced to begin with, still reeling from a series of body blows.
On the bright side, as Graham clearly has already placed a check-mark beside “PSE” on the “To-do” list in his mind, perhaps that means we will be spared any further “reforms.”