Hats off to educators
Re: Reform bill offers teachable moment (May 27)
So Education Minister Cliff Cullen doesn’t think the classroom is an appropriate place to discuss government policy and proposed legislation. Really, minister? If not in the classroom, then where?
This offers students an opportunity to understand and engage in the legislative process, hone their critical thinking skills, learn to look at both sides of an issue and make informed opinions and decisions. What more could you want for citizens and voters of the future?
In 1972, my Grade 12 social studies teachers brought in (with board permission) two members of the Black Panthers to address our class. It was very controversial at the time, but we gained an understanding of a subject we knew very little about, and heard an oft-criticized, but valid, side of the story.
It doesn’t mean anyone agreed with the Panthers’ approach, but it allowed us to understand other aspects of a complex issue. It was a great moment in education, opening doors to new ways of thinking, not just about the civil rights issues in the U.S. at the time, but applicable to any other topic as well.
Dianne Milton, Winnipeg
Thanks to Education Minister Cliff Cullen for finally revealing exactly how Bill 64 will work. Whenever any group has expressed concerns about the bill, the canned response is that we are fear-mongering and that there will be plenty of advisory committees and consultations that we can choose to be part of.
Comments by the minister illustrate just how disingenuous these claims are.
When Cullen was given the chance to recognize excellence in teaching, he chose to offer a negative evaluation and label as inappropriate the efforts of teachers to help Grade 9 students evaluate pending legislation that would affect their lives as future parents.
Why should teachers trust this government on this? All of us can imagine that once education has become fully politicized and bureaucratized, this would have come as a memo and be reinforced by government-appointed directors. And we could easily predict a list of topics that could be designated as taboo.
Compliance, and not excellence, is the goal here.
When asked to contribute to excellence in education, Cullen and others in the Progressive Conservative party chose to thumb their noses at Grade 9 students seeking to understand the full impact of Bill 64. They were told to hold their thought until the PCs could get the conversation firmly under control — through a student advisory council — held on their terms, when and where they dictated, chaired by a politically directed civil servant, rather than a trusted teacher.
So again, why should students trust you when you don’t trust or respect them? As a lifelong educator, the strongest lesson I learned was to not disrespect or underestimate students or teachers. They know when they are being played.
And to conservatives who think this bill will ensure some kind of control of "liberal" education — remember that political power changes hands in Manitoba on a regular basis. So as early as the morning after the next election, all of this power might be in the hands of opposition parties.
Let’s keep public education public and locally controlled — and enable our students to fully exercise their informed and sophisticated voices in a safe public space.
Ken Klassen, Steinbach
Lessons from literature
Author Louise Penny’s iconic character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, has much-needed advice for our floundering Premier Brian Pallister.
"There are four things that lead to wisdom.... They are four sentences we learn to say and mean. I don’t know. I need help. I’m sorry. I was wrong."
Clara Fjeldsted, Winnipeg
Re: Trudeau delivers apology to Italian Canadians for internment during WW2 (May 27)
The prime minister’s apology to Italian Canadians for what some suffered during the Second World War reminds me of the truth of George Santayana’s observation that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Trudeau apparently didn’t want us to remember that prime minister Brian Mulroney apologized to the Italian Canadians in Toronto, Nov. 4, 1990.
Seems as if the German philosopher Hegel was right after all: "The only thing that we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history."
Lubomyr Luciuk, Kingston, Ont.
Spread the winnings
Re: COVID-19 briefing (May 26)
Paul Samyn poses the question whether or not Manitoba should consider a one-million-dollar weekly lottery to motivate and increase vaccination participants, as they are doing in Ohio with great success, whereby their "vaccination rate jumped by 45 per cent".
Yes, I think that in the utilitarian cause of beating back the deadly pandemic and saving lives while taking pressure off of our heavily burdened medical caregivers, Manitoba should do a lottery to encourage more people to vaccinate for the good of all.
However, it would be much better if our weekly lottery, rather than being set for $1 million for one person, should be established for a $25,000 win — with 40 people winning! That would serve to spread the win around while stimulating the economy far more quickly, as 40 people would spend the money far faster than would one person winning one million dollars!
In addition, the probability would be far greater that people in poverty would take a piece of the windfall while getting protection from COVID-19. Such a lottery would act as a life-saving investment, which could very well lead to things getting back to normal far more quickly for the good of all Manitobans.
Brian MacKinnon, Winnipeg
Pandemic a wake-up call
The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing health-care crisis has shown that our system in Manitoba is woefully inadequate. To be fair, the same situation has shown to be so worldwide when faced with an extremely contagious virus.
That being said, Premier Brian Pallister’s slash-and-burn approach to hospitals, nurses, intensive care beds and health care in general has certainly hurt Manitobans.
Resources in Manitoba were inadequate before COVID-19, but in a province of 1.3 million people — and with fewer than 175 intensive care beds — the premier should be ashamed to have to send patients to other provinces for care.
This pandemic should be a wake-up call to all governing politicians. The obvious solution is more hospitals and more health-care professionals, not cuts to already-stretched resources.
Infrastructure and trained professionals need to be in place for the next time we are faced with a health crisis of this magnitude. This was not the first, and with a burgeoning worldwide population, it will not be the last, pandemic facing humanity.
Garry Eekhoudt, St. Andrews