This last year has been very difficult for northern educators, students and parents. School divisions, principals, teachers, educational assistants and students quickly adapted to COVID restrictions. I would like to thank all educators to their commitment to our children and logging a lot of overtime hours in order to plan and keep our kids safe. When schools switched to remote learning, our educators hit the ground running. Remote learning is an especially big challenge in the North, as there are a lot of northern families that don’t have access to internet, or their internet is so unreliable that remote learning becomes nearly impossible.
But because our school divisions and local teachers know what’s best for our kids, they knew how to respond to disturbances in learning. Teachers prepared homework packages and hand-delivered them to students’ homes on a regular basis to make sure they weren’t falling behind.
Our local school divisions, communities, teachers and parents know what’s best for our kids – and the new Bill 64 won’t empower them, it will lessen their voices and give all control to the minister. Our school divisions recognize the region-specific problems the North faces and took action to try and solve them, but they can’t fix them all on their own. They 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 bill will replace Manitoba’s 37 school divisions with 15 regional councils – which includes combining all of the northern school divisions into one – getting rid of all school boards and excluding principals and vice-principals from their unions. These changes remove decision-making from the local level and put it in the hands of a new authority that 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.
It’s hard to trust that the province will make the appropriate decisions regarding what’s best for northern education when they’ve poorly handled 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.
I will be hosting a town hall on labour issues on April 5 and a town hall on education issues in April. If you would like to participate in these town halls, or if you have any other questions, comments or concerns, I can be reached at Danielle.email@example.com or by phone at 204-677-2744.