Letters, Feb. 17
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Focus on students’ needs
It was most refreshing to read Matt Henderson’s cogent and nuanced exploration of the paradoxical quality of educational assessment (Assessing education takes full toolbox, Feb. 10). However, I would take issue with his characterizing education as being “designed to create a public, not serve it.” I believe it to be one of the “false dichotomies” Henderson decries.
Clearly, public schools both “create” and “serve” a multiplicity of “publics.” Unfortunately, what is often lost in these kinds of debates are the needs of learners. In my experience as a school clinician and special-education administrator, I have often experienced significant conflicts between system needs and student needs. In those situations, what is often required is dedicating sufficient time and energy to integrate these polarities.
As with any paradox, the challenge is to think in terms of “both/and” rather than “either/or.” When that happens, a kind of synergy develops and creative solutions arise.
I wonder what would happen if we could begin to approach the thorny issues of testing from the point of view of what students need. For example, students (and their caregivers) do need to know how they are doing, but only in terms of appropriateness and fairness of the assessment tool. When the system outcomes that are measured do not match the learner’s strengths and weaknesses, results of testing are meaningless in relation to ensuring student growth.
During my first year of teaching, I was following the prescribed curriculum and teaching formal grammar. In my 20-year-old hubris, I was very satisfied with how I “taught” the subject matter — I loved the sentence diagrams I generated. After a few weeks, I decided to give the kids a test and, to my horror, discovered that nearly all of them had “failed.” It was one of many wake-up calls in my career.
Looking back, I have come to realize that my own needs were being served by inappropriate curricular outcomes. Who really failed my test? Did I, or did the kids?
Judge Tories on record
Kurt Clyde’s letter (“Closer look at drug policy,” Feb. 13), taking issue with Jamila Rempel’s letter (“Failed drug policy” Feb. 10) responding to Deveryn Ross’s opinion piece (Voters deserve answer on NDP drug stance, Feb. 8) is trying to put words in her letter.
Clyde references her statement, “Let’s remember who broke these systems in the first place,” when she took issue with Ross’s questions about how the NDP leader would “fix the health-care system, improve our education system, and make our communities safer.” Clyde then makes the leap to infer she believes they were all good until 2016 and the Pallister government assumed the reins.
Another way to look at the situation is to judge what the PC government did about these systems while in office. To much fanfare, the PC government embarked on major changes to health care (reorganizing hospital ERs in Winnipeg, closing three, reducing ICU capacity), and education funding, including reducing the seats available for nursing education.
Most would argue the PC government’s efforts made a poor situation even worse, hence their current poll numbers.
Accessible winter fun
Re: Manitoboggan and Crokicurl are exactly what Winter Cities Shake-up Conference hopes to encourage (Feb. 13)
This is definitely a magnificent structure for tobogganing. I have taken grandchildren to it for several years and have been down it myself with them. I believe Coun. Brian Mayes is one of the local politicians who should be complimented for that, and other upgrades he has pushed through for St. Vital Park. This includes the warming shelter and washroom facilities at the duck pond.
The article mentions Paralympian Billy Brydges attending the opening of the slides with his daughter, and what a wonderful experience it was for him to be able to toboggan with her.
Although my trips to the slides are not frequent, I have never witnessed the accessible ramp being used by those for whom it was built. I hope that there are local organizations that could perhaps organize trips to the slides for them. This, of course, should be co-ordinated with the park’s maintenance staff to ensure the areas at the end of the slides are safe. I have noticed that sometimes the ends of the runs need some work done on them.
It would be gratifying to see that this inclusive feature is being used. Perhaps readers could send letters to the editor recounting their experiences.
Legal, but unfair
Ever since the European settler immigrants came to North America, which they claimed by the doctrine of discovery, the Aboriginal people in Canada have had to fight to stay on their own lands.
The Nisgaa of British Columbia had been fighting to retain their lands in the Nass River Valley ever since the Europeans came to British Columbia. In 1973, the Calder Case was decided in favour of British Columbia, four judges to three, owing to a legal technicality. The Nisgaa never signed any treaties releasing their lands to any European settler governments.
In 1927, Duncan Campbell Scott, an Indian Affairs Official, inserted section 141 into the Indian Act, which forbade Aboriginal peoples to solicit for monies to fight for their land claims or hire lawyers to advocate for them in the courts. It was an offence to use the courts to fight for their rights.
In 1930, the great mischief-maker for Aboriginal people, the Canadian constitutional law called the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement was enacted between Ottawa and the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and the Aboriginal people could do nothing because of section 141.
Aboriginal people never signed any treaties with the provinces and yet we Aboriginal people were told that all lands and resources we released were now under provincial jurisdiction. There was no Aboriginal involvement.
Health care in crisis
Re: Premiers agree to accept new federal health-care funding offer (Feb. 13)
It is beyond ironic that Premier Heather Stefanson heads the Council of the Federation, representing Canadian premiers requesting a renewed health-care funding protocol from Ottawa.
The Manitoba PCs have doled out hundreds of millions of dollars to Manitobans recently in all manner of “tax rebates,” thanks to alleged full coffers, yet state Ottawa’s health-care funding offer is far less than what is needed.
This is like asking your parents for an extra-generous cash birthday gift because you gambled away your trust fund.
It is also head-spinning that Stefanson is the spokesperson for Canadian health-care needs, since, as Manitoba health minister, she was invisible after helping former premier Brian Pallister eviscerate Manitoba health care, and then as premier continued to starve it during a deadly pandemic.
Canadian health care is indeed in dire straits, with underfunding; burned-out medical staff; never-ending wait-lists for surgery and diagnostic testing; incompetent governmental oversight; and antiquated recording as it pertains to patients’ health profiles. Why are Canadians not able to access, in one online site, a complete record of their diagnoses, test results, prescriptions?
Yes, Canadian health care is in crisis. One can only hope that Ottawa’s increased funding will be properly used, with appropriate oversight and review, for the improvement of health-care delivery across the country, and that improvements will in fact be realized. If not, generations of Canadians will suffer the consequences.
It is that simple. Many, many lives are at stake.
Kenneth Meadwell, PhD, OPA
Updated on Friday, February 17, 2023 8:28 AM CST: Adds links