It’s no understatement to say that this last year has been very difficult for Northern educators, students and parents.
Remote learning was a nightmare for many, given the lack of reliable internet access in the North. Many families don’t even have access to internet at their homes making it impossible for those students to tune into class. Teachers worked overtime to try and tailor their classes to COVID guidelines, causing stress and burnout for many.
Despite these issues, educators persevered to ensure that students could continue learning. Our school divisions recognized the region-specific problems the North faced and took action to try and solve them. School divisions, trustees, principals and teachers quickly adapted to COVID restrictions, logging a lot of OT hours in order to plan and keep our kids safe. And when the province shifted to remote learning, they sent paper packages to students without internet access so they could still learn course material.
Our school divisions would not have been able to respond in the way they did if they didn’t recognize issues specific to their region. This is exactly what’s wrong with the Pallister government’s Bill 64: ‘the Education Modernization Act’. This is bad bill. This bill seeks to replace Manitoba’s 37 school divisions with 15 regional councils, scrap all school boards and fails to address the real barriers to our children’s education and child poverty. These changes remove decision-making from the local level and put it in the hands of a new authority who is handpicked by the Premier. Under these changes, transparency and accountability will be drastically reduced and the province will now have total control over Northern education. As the Official Opposition, we are holding back this bill until the fall so that parents and educators can have the chance to respond.
It’s hard to trust that the province will make the appropriate decisions regarding what’s best for Northern education when they’ve botched the Northern vaccine rollout and have virtually ignored our region for their years in office. The further away from the classroom the worse the decision making gets and the same is true geographically – the further away from our region, the worse the decision making. It simply doesn’t make sense to have someone in Winnipeg decide how our schools are run.
Last week, we had two late nights in the Manitoba Legislative chamber voting and debating on 44 bills. This week, all MLAs are home working in their constituencies for a week and return for session on April 6.
If you’re concerned about the government’s changes to our school systems or if you have any other questions, comments or concerns, I can be reached at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-204-623-2034. Kinanaskomitin.