School for thought
This is a forewarning to every parent, grandparent and all other Manitoba residents who have deep interest in Manitoba’s public school system. Brian Pallister announced last week that he would, if re-elected as premier, set in place a course of action that could cripple and ultimately dismantle the public school system as we know it.
His promise to eliminate property taxes as funding for education would limit school boards’ ability to implement policy regarding schools, setting the stage for amalgamation of school boards.
This would ultimately leave the administration of the entire provincial system to a handful of bureaucrats located in downtown Winnipeg.
School boards could be abolished or rendered powerless; local administration would be near to or completely non-existent. Local education authorities would be virtually unable to address the complete, often unique, educational needs of their students.
Currently, local boards initiate programs focused around geographic location, poverty, immigration, transportation and special needs of given students. The list goes on. The key is the ability to respond as quickly as possible.
The sole criterion for Manitoba public school education could become "efficiency," i.e. the bottom line and uniformity. Although Pallister likes to profess a strong allegiance to education due to his mother’s 40 years in the classroom and his own short-lived teaching experience, he is driven by ideology and seems unable to understand the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.
Two members of my family collectively served for approximately 30 years as school board members. Both were committed to the cause of education and tried to do whatever they could to make their respective school systems more effective.
I have had nearly 50 years’ experience in the classroom and administration and teacher development both nationally and internationally. I know of the complexities of education and I know that the ability to make informed local decisions is critical to meet the needs of students. I once worked in a system that was bureaucratically governed both physically and intellectually at a distance from the place of learning. It was a disaster.
Oscar Wilde is credited with saying, "The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." Pallister quotes prices ad nauseam, but seems to be unable to understand the value of many things — including education.
Who watches the watchmen?
Re: Mayor eager to scrutinize report on inspectors (Sept. 11)
Why did it take so long to get a report out? They wanted to see that report and scrutinize it. The public has a right to know.
John Kiernan, director of the property, planning and development (PPD) department, was caught by surprise. He admitted he was unaware of what had been occurring. Are you kidding me?
Other changes were to be put in place. Eight individuals were fired and seven suspended. How does Kiernan keep his job? He should have been the first one fired. Not knowing what your people are doing? Most bosses in the private sector would be fired for not knowing.
Re: Eight fired, seven suspended after city probe into building inspectors’ conduct (Sept. 11)
I’d like to thank the City of Winnipeg for taking the appropriate measures against the inspectors for their appalling use of their time at work and fraudulent expense claims.
However, how is it that the leader of the group, John Kiernan, the director of PPD, is still on the payroll? Would he not have noticed that when he was supposed to have, say, 68 inspections a day (four inspections multiplied by 17 inspectors) yet was only getting 30 or so per day, that something was awry?
The director must be canned — if not for his lack of leadership skills, then at least his ignorance of the situation!
Losing a natural wonder
Re: Province going to the hogs (Letters, Sept. 7)
While the "lungs of the planet" in the Amazon rainforest are on fire for all to witness and driving countries to take action, Lake Winnipeg is silently suffocating to death from toxic algae blooms feeding off an overabundance of phosphorus and nitrates filtering into the lake.
Hog slurry is slathered on the land and the excesses of it are dispensed intravenously via the Red River into Lake Winnipeg.
This is clearly a huge issue that the government wants to avoid. They look the other way.
Unless you have to deal with the stench of hog barns, most nights, it is easy to forget what is happening out in the countryside. However, if you have a cottage or love the beaches, you get to witness, up close and personal, the oozing, poisonous blue-green algae seeping out of the once grand and beautiful body of fresh water and rotting on the shorelines.
There is no alarm and not enough action being taken to save this natural wonder.
Quietly, Lake Winnipeg is dying, abandoned by the Manitoba and federal governments.
Wrong on NDP
Re: Single-focus campaign left NDP asleep at the wheel (Sept. 12)
Perhaps Shannon Sampert was watching a different election campaign than the one I was following.
Political parties manoeuvre to define the "ballot question" and in focusing on health care, the NDP was successful in doing that, and the Progressive Conservatives paid a price for emergency department closures and the generalized chaos in the health-care system.
As for the Progressive Conservatives’ Cheshire-cat proposal (evaporating as you watch) to eliminate public school division funding from property tax bills, this was to be phased in at 10 per cent per year over 10 years starting in 2023. Forgive me for suggesting that Manitobans had more immediate issues on their minds — and that both the premier and I could well be six feet under by then.
And perhaps Sampert missed Wab Kinew’s statement on the matter: "We know that what Mr. Pallister has announced today amounts to a commitment to cutting education. That will mean cutting the quality of education for kids in the classroom."
Yes, there were other issues. On concern around education in general, I note that former school trustee Lisa Naylor took the Wolseley constituency handily. As for other issues, again in Wolseley, voters decided that on environmental issues, the NDP record in office and a more multi-faceted approach deserved the nod over the Green candidate.
With attention to First Nations issues, the NDP’s Ian Bushie won in Keewatinook and the party swept all of the northern seats. In terms of diversity, the election of two black MLAs has been noted, along with a woman of Filipino ancestry, Malaya Marcelino, in Notre Dame and Mintu Sandhu in The Maples. As to gender balance, the New Democrats will have the highest percentage of female MLAs of any party in the legislature.
So perhaps it wasn’t so much the NDP asleep at the wheel, fixating on a single issue, but rather Sampert asleep at her pundit station. That said, all is forgiven.