Manitoba Daily

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Manitoba launches a new effort to reform the educational system

Manitoba has announced a second attempt to reform the educational system.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Manitoba government unveiled the broad strokes of its second attempt to revamp the education system on Wednesday.
  • Instead, school boards will not be consolidated, according to the province’s new Manitoba Education Action Plan, which was released on Wednesday.
  • The province lays forth a number of initiatives and goals, some of which are now in progress and others that will be implemented in the next years.
  • One of the many efforts to improve the school experience for Indigenous children is the creation of an Indigenous Education Framework.

On Wednesday, the Manitoba government laid out the broad strokes of its second attempt to reform the school system.

Following widespread opposition to the proposed revisions, Premier Heather Stefanson abandoned Bill 64, the initial proposal, shortly after entering office late last year. A plan to abolish elected school boards was the measure that received the most opposition.

Manitoba’s Education Minister Wayne Ewasko stated Wednesday, “We heard loud and clear from Manitobans that they didn’t need us to modify the governance structure within the Manitoba K-12 system.”

Instead, the province’s new Manitoba Education Action Plan, announced on Wednesday, states that school boards will not be merged.

The five-year action plan will be based on four pillars, according to the report: high-quality learning, student involvement, and well-being, teaching as well as leadership, and responsive systems.

“Manitoba will change to a global competency strategy with reading and numeracy at its core, in line with current research and  other Canadian jurisdictions.” According to the paper, “it will facilitate relevant, high-quality learning for everybody.”

Also read: A councillor in Winnipeg seeks property taxes to fund donations

A new finance model has been proposed, but the province hasn’t specified what it would look like while a review panel works. Currently, the province pays the system directly, with school boards raising cash through taxation. The idea is that the new model will be more equitable and fair.

The province outlines various initiatives and goals, some of which are now ongoing and others that will be executed in the future years.

Curriculum-based examinations for early, middle, and grade 10 years, the addition of literacy and numeracy coaches, and a permanent remote learning plan, including an online high school, are all being considered by the province as ways to improve and measure student performance.

The proposal also includes a promise to evaluate exclusionary rules, including reducing or eliminating suspensions and expulsions with exceptions for safety concerns. There are also promises to reduce absenteeism with a new provincial attendance policy and reform report cards to make them more inclusive.

The construction of an Indigenous Education Framework is one of the many initiatives to improve the school experience for Indigenous kids. There are plans to strengthen curriculum content on residential schools and treaties, require principals to take specific efforts to boost Indigenous student achievement, and attract and retain teachers in northern and rural regions.

Another feature is establishing a regulatory agency, while Ewasko stated that the province is not moving through with establishing a teaching college at this time.

Manitoba’s official opposition, on the other hand, has spoken out against the idea, claiming that the Premier has chosen to “stay with Pallister’s failing roadmap.”

Manitoba has announced a second attempt to reform the educational system.
Manitoba has announced a second attempt to reform the educational system. Image from CBC News

In a statement, NDP Leader Wab Kinew said, “We know parents and educators want smaller class sizes, greater learning supports for their children to help them recover from the pandemic, and greater community involvement in their schools.”

“We know fewer teachers in Manitoba schools this year due to PC cuts, and regrettably, nothing has changed under Premier Stefanson.”

According to Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont, the plan does not invest enough in education.

“Some of it is because they’re still backing down on some of the horrible things they stated they’d do under Bill 64, which was a big mistake,” he said.

“This isn’t an action plan — it is a plan, but there isn’t any action.”

Overall, the plan is wonderful news, according to James Bedford, president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, but it is long overdue.

“Instead of Bill 64, we should have been doing this two years ago,” he remarked.

Bedford said he was pleased to see the plan address the suggestions of the K-12 Commission in a way that the province’s prior attempt at education reform did not.

“We are cautiously optimistic today,” Bedford said, “but we will continue to speak up in support of teachers and an effective, inclusive, and suitably financed public education system for all Manitoba students.”

Source: CTV News

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