Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trustee urges parent forums

Says province unclear on new report cards

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Is Education Minister Nancy Allan failing to work well with others in developing standardized report cards?

School trustees certainly think so, among them rookie St. James-Assiniboia trustee Ed Hume, who's got parents asking him what's happened to the promised consultation.

"I think it's pathetic," Hume declared in an interview. "Parents aren't being consulted."

Premier Greg Selinger announced back in September to great fanfare that the province would develop a standardized report card using language parents can understand. Allan said at that same announcement that there would be a pilot card introduced in September, with full implementation of a uniform report card in the 2012-2013 school year.

So where's the consultation, asked Hume, who was a teacher for 33 years, and who emphasized that he's speaking as an individual trustee and not on behalf of his board. "I really have a concern how much effort they're making to consult the public," he said. "They're making a report card template -- they're putting the cart before the horse."

Hume has suggested the province hold parent forums in St. James-Assiniboia, but said that the province isn't interested. "I want to see the biggest stakeholder, the parents, be consulted."

Neither Allan nor the senior bureaucrat overseeing development of the new report cards will be made available for interviews. Said an aide to Allan: "We are working diligently on this project. We do not have much to tell you at this particular time, however, once there something to say, we will let you know."

Trustees meeting last weekend at the annual convention of the Manitoba School Boards Association complained they're not hearing anything from the province about the new report cards, and urged Allan to consult and update the public.

"I'm really concerned with the fairly heavy-handed means in which the standardized report card is being foisted on us," said Brandon trustee Linda Ross.

Hume said there isn't really all that much time left in the current school year, and parents want to have their say, if the plan is still to have a pilot report card format ready to go for the fall.

"If they rush it and botch it, and people don't like it, they'll have to go back to the public and start all over again," Hume said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 28, 2011 A6

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