One of my priorities for the upcoming session in the legislature will be to advocate for increased funding for education in the North. Education is one of the major stepping stones in providing a better future for all. If our children have the best education possible, they will be better equipped to promote socio-economic growth for our communities and to achieve their own personal dreams for success. To achieve excellence, adequate funding must be available to allow school districts to make choices based on regional and student needs rather than “making due with what limited resources we have”.
Whenever I am out door knocking I hear concerns from parents over class size. The removal of the “20 kid cap” has made it more difficult for both teachers and students. The Pallister government has ignored proof that smaller class sizes gives teachers more one-on-one time with students, which significantly benefits their learning.
Last week I had the honour of visiting with the Grade 8 students at Wapanohk Community School in Thompson who are currently waiting for portable classrooms. Portables provide a short-term solution to shortages of classroom space, but the portables should have been in place for the start of the school year and, more importantly, they are not a long-term solution. Sadly though, they made an absolute cut to education funding by a million dollars last year alone. If this trend continues, our children will be lacking the essential materials and environments they need in order to thrive.
Now with the current education review underway parents and teachers fear what other cuts are to education will come from the Pallister government. The minister of education has not ruled out the idea of amalgamating school districts. This would have a negative impact on the education system as a whole because it would lead to a reduced focus on the specific needs unique to their particular community which could result in children not getting the best out of their K-12 experience. In addition, provincewide bargaining for teachers will make it more challenging to recruit certified teachers for the north, where we already struggle to retain staff.
We all know that we need more investments towards education in the North. The Pallister government’s failure to provide that investment fails our society as a whole and our children in particular. My colleagues of the North, our critic of education, and I will work for you to shine light on the government’s current cuts to education and any changes that are to come.