Province announces commission members who will review education system

Thompson lawyer Jill Quilty among the nine members

Thompson’s Jill Quilty is one of nine members of a commission that will conduct a review of the kindergarten through Grade 12 education system in Manitoba, the provincial government announced Jan. 23.

She joins legislative assistant to the education minister Ian Wishart, co-chairs Dr. Janice MacKinnon and Clayton Manness, Terry Brown, Mark Frison, John Daniel Lees, Laura Repski and Denis Robert.

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“This is a long-overdue opportunity to build on strengths and identify challenges to create a better education system with high standards for educators, high expectations for student achievement, relevant curriculum, governance excellence and a sustainable fiscal framework,” said Education and Training Minister Kelvin Goertzen in a news release. “Manitoba’s education system covers a vast geographical area and serves a wide range of communities, and we have selected a commission that reflects that reality.”

The commission will consult with Manitobans across the province on topics such as student learning, teaching, accountability, governance and funding based on input from parents, educators, school boards, academics, Indigenous organizations, French-speakers, municipal councils, professional organizations and businesses.

“The commission will serve in the best educational interest of all students, regardless of their abilities, personal or family circumstances, or where they live,” said MacKinnon.

“Our focus will be on student outcomes, long-term sustainability and enhanced public confidence, and we will consider the continuum of early learning, post-secondary education and labour market needs,” added Manness.

A report on the commission’s findings and recommendations will be submitted to the education minister by February of next year.

Quilty, who ran unsuccessfully for a spot as a School District of Mystery Lake trustee in the October municipal elections, is a native of Newfoundland and former educator who practises criminal, divorce and family law with Law North Corporation. She holds a juris doctorate from Dalhousie University and a master of education degree from Mount Saint Vincent University and was formerly an instructor and co-ordinator at College of the North Atlantic in Newfoundland & Labrador. She specialized in literacy education in her master’s degree program and has volunteered with the Juniper Centre as well as serving as a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Academic Working Group, the Ad Hoc Response Committee for Gender Discrimination, and the Indigenous, Black and Mi’kmaq Standing Committee.

NDP leader Wab Kinew said the education review commission included a former Progressive Conservative education minister who gutted the department in the 1990s.

“After 20 years on the sidelines [Premier Brian] Pallister has returned to his party’s old playbook: cuts,” said Kinew in an emailed statement. “Kelvin Goertzen, who launched a plan to close emergency rooms, has recruited a Filmon-era education minister to finish the job he started in the 1990s. Under Clayton Manness, the Conservatives cut hundreds of teachers, cut school funding and made class sizes way bigger. His cuts are still being felt by families today and we cannot allow it to happen again. The NDP will fight for students, parents and teachers.”

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