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TRURO, NS – The union representing the vast majority of Teaching Assistants (TA’s) in Nova Scotia schools (called Educational Program Assistants in the HRSB and Student Program Assistants in some other boards) is questioning one of the main conclusions of the Ben Levin report.

The report was conducted on behalf of the provincial government and looks at our public education system.

Danny Cavanagh, president of CUPE Nova Scotia, says, “This report seems to miss entirely the fundamental concept of inclusion, the cornerstone of our province’s approach to providing services for special needs children. It cuts to the very heart of how our province has addressed special needs over the last 30 years.

“It also raises very serious questions about equality, and even human rights issues for these children. To say we are perplexed with its findings is putting it mildly,” says Cavanagh.

Wilfridine Crowdis, the Chair of the Nova Scotia School Board Council of Unions - representing more than 4,000 CUPE school board workers in seven schools boards – says, “To suggest that TA’s don’t contribute to education in the classroom appears to show a profound misunderstanding of the vital role that thousands of these workers play in our school system.

“Mr. Levin also cites a British study to back up some of his ‘conclusions’ about TA’s in the classroom. In our view, the full report comes to the almost exact opposite conclusion that Levin suggests it does,” says Crowdis.

“He also suggests that TA’s should not be used for children with learning difficulties, but doesn’t seem to understand that this is not what they are used for in Nova Scotia schools.  TA’s are only assigned to children who have multiple physical and cognitive challenges or those whose behavior is considered dangerous to themselves or others.

“Children with learning disabilities do not have TA’s assigned to them,” says Crowdis, who has worked in the school system for over 30 years.

For more information:

Danny Cavanagh                       
CUPE NS President                          
(902) 957-0822 (Cell)                        

Wilfridine Crowdis          
Chair, NSSBCU              
(902) 258-7208 (Cell)

Kathy MacLeod     
CUPE School Board Co-ordinator
(902) 578-3304 (Cell)

John McCracken
CUPE Communications Rep.
(902) 455-4180 (office)