The province has released a Fact versus Fiction web page to clarify a number of misconceptions regarding the Better Education Starts Today (BEST) strategy and bill 64: the education modernization act, Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.
“Our ministry has launched the Fact versus Fiction page so Manitobans can have the correct and factual information about the new education act and the Better Education Starts Today strategy,” said Cullen. “It’s important that parents, teachers, students and educators get the proper information and be informed on how our government is working with Manitobans to improve our education system. We encourage Manitobans to be a part of this amazing opportunity to improve the education system.”
Manitobans need to know that:
• There will be no major disruptions for teachers, students and everyday life in the classroom.
• Teachers will not be penalized for poor assessment results of their students. Furthermore, while the focus will be placed on enhancing classroom supports in the BEST strategy, there is no reference to assessment within the proposed legislation.
• The new Provincial Education Authority cannot close rural or northern schools without community consultation, and the three criteria within the Public Schools Act are carried forward, unchanged.
• The BEST strategy speaks to priority actions that address poverty, mental health and additional needs. These are policy issues that need a whole-of-government approach.
• School Community Councils will increase marginalized, visible minority and Indigenous voices in the education system by legislating these parent advisory councils to include school community members as formal partners in education including a paid parent engagement officer position at the school level.
• Government will not appoint principals, as they will continue to be hired through a competitive process and will be required to be certified teachers.
• The proposed bill formalizes the role of directors of education in legislation, whereas superintendents were not formally included. These directors will be hired through competitive processes.
• A Funding Guarantee ensures that at least $1.6 billion more is invested in education over four years and that changes because of the school board structures are being redirected to the classroom where they are needed.
“To make progress on improving education as a whole, Manitobans need to turn their attention to our BEST strategy. The strategy is being formed through respectful and constructive dialogue with front-line teachers, principals and school staff, educational experts and parents who know first-hand the needs of their children,” said Cullen. “We have had tremendous response and feedback from our teacher listening tour, parent engagement panels and telephone town halls. It is through these types of engagements that will help build the roadmap for all Manitoban students to achieve success and a prosperous future.
The Better Education Starts Today: Putting Students First strategy was developed in response to the Kindergarten to Grade 12 Commission’s recommendations on kindergarten to Grade 12 education, as well as learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 75 recommendations from Manitoba’s commission, the BEST strategy accepts 60 recommendations and accepts the remaining 15 in principle. Through four pillars of student success, the strategy examines many critical issues that affect student learning, such as poverty, inclusivity and a provincial funding model that gives students in urban centres more of an advantage over northern and rural communities. That is why the BEST strategy establishes the Task Force on Poverty and Education, Minister’s Advisory Council on Inclusive Education, Curriculum Advisory Panel, and a Funding Review Team in order to tackle crucial elements that hinder the success of students, the minister said.
The Fact versus Fiction web page can be found at https://bettereducationmb.ca/factvsfiction. Manitobans can access and review the Better Education Starts Today strategy at https://bettereducationmb.ca.
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