NDP puts focus on more classrooms, smaller class size

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Smaller class sizes, more classroom space, and additional educational assistants are the focus of the NDP education platform, Wab Kinew announced Thursday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/08/2019 (1087 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Smaller class sizes, more classroom space, and additional educational assistants are the focus of the NDP education platform, Wab Kinew announced Thursday.

The NDP leader promised to spend $85 million toward building more classrooms in Manitoba schools, if his party is elected Sept. 10.

He also said the NDP plans to bring back the smaller class sizes Initiative for students in kindergarten through Grade 3. The program was scrapped by the Progressive Conservative government two years ago; Kinew said the NDP will increase the program’s total funding to $18 million from $16 million.

GERALDINE MALONE / THE CANADIAN PRESS Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew makes a campaign stop in Winnipeg, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. The New Democrats will restore classroom size limits and add more classrooms if elected on Sept. 10.

The party plans to devote $1 million more, respectively, toward hiring educational assistants and recruiting French teachers — of which Manitoba has a shortage, he said during a campaign stop at École Rivière-Rouge in Winnipeg.

The NDP says the changes would come largely from reworking the province’s existing education budget. When asked if the province can afford to build more classrooms and hire more school staff, Kinew said: “Absolutely.”

He criticized Tory Premier Brian Pallister’s approach to education, and claimed Manitobans will see additional cuts to education and health care if Pallister is re-elected. (The Tories later responded with a statement dismissing the NDP’s announcement as “just another uncosted and untruthful campaign promise.”)

“We’ve released a fully-costed platform, and again, a lot of these resources are just about reprioritizing what’s already in the education budget. And instead of doing what Mr. Pallister has done and just taken a very confrontational approach with teachers, we’ll send a message that we actually want to work with teachers to improve education for all students,” Kinew said.

“At the end of the day, we want to make sure that there are small class sizes, right across Manitoba.”

About 25 French teachers could be hired with the devoted $1-million funding, Kinew said, and the additional funds focused on hiring more EAs would be “a start” toward trying to make sure students get “one-on-one attention.”

Some of the work involved to build more classrooms could start immediately, Kinew said.

“Part of this would be expediting and executing plans that are currently before the Public Schools Finance Board,” he said, adding the party may also consider building more schools.

“Of course, we are committed to building more schools across the province and we would be at least equalling what the Conservatives have laid out.”

In an emailed statement issued by the Tories, Swan River candidate Rick Wowchuk, a retired teacher, accused Kinew of being “untruthful” in Thursday’s announcement. He said the PCs have promised to build 20 new schools if they’re re-elected.

“Wab Kinew wants to go back to a time when his NDP friends were in government, a time when special needs funding was cut by more than $8 million, a time when thousands of students were learning in trailers and when student achievement measurements were dead last in Canada,” the statement read.

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @thatkatiemay

Katie May

Katie May
Reporter

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.

History

Updated on Thursday, August 29, 2019 4:44 PM CDT: Adds reaction from the provincial Tories.

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