More support for education needed

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Last week, Manitoba’s auditor general released a review of the government’s response to the pandemic in our kindergarten to Grade 12 classrooms. His findings should concern us all. He found that the Manitoba government did not have quality, system-level data to inform the pandemic response and did not have a co-ordinated response for addressing the overwhelming need for mental health support. Of great concern, he also found that the Manitoba government had not yet initiated a pandemic recovery effort.

In a survey provided by the auditor general, only 15 per cent of senior school leadership believed that the government will take appropriate action to address the long-term impacts of the pandemic. That’s a startling lack of confidence in this government’s willingness to help our schools and students recover from years of learning disruption.

This shouldn’t be surprising. While other provinces were building a comprehensive response, this government tried to rush through unpopular school reforms that did nothing to help schools deal with the pandemic challenge. This government has not provided school funding to keep up with the need. As outlined in financial reporting, the provincial share of public education costs has gone down from 62.4 per cent in 2016 to 58.2 per cent in 2021.

What does this mean for an average-sized early years school in northeastern Winnipeg? It means that class sizes are increasing. It also means student support has been reduced with fewer resource teachers available to assist classroom teachers with planning and providing academic support to kids. One school with a current enrolment of 390 students, which is projected to be at 460 students in September, has seen its student services support cut for the next school year. This certainly doesn’t serve the needs of our kids and may result in more kids slipping through the cracks.

All of these cuts have resulted in classroom teacher workloads that have become very difficult to manage. Classroom teachers continue to do their best to support their kids, but more support is necessary to meet the needs of kids that have finally returned to consistent in-class learning.

Our constituency office is now open. You can contact us by calling 204-594-2025, emailing nello.altomare@yourmanitoba.ca or by dropping in at 127 Regent Ave. W.

Nello Altomare

Nello Altomare
Transcona constituency report

Nello Altomare is the NDP MLA for Transcona.

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