I know all Manitobans want our schools to be safe placse that help our kids reach their full potential. Since the release of Bill 64, The Education Modernization Act, my office has been inundated with calls and emails from Transcona constituents concerned about this legislation.
Bill 64 would completely restructure how our public education system is run. One of the most substantial changes here in Transcona is that all Winnipeg school divisions will be merged into one region, amalgamating River East Transcona School Division with five other divisions. All consequential decisions regarding our children’s education will also be centralized into a Provincial Education Authority.
I’m hearing concerns from our community that this will mean a loss of local control over the programming our kids can access. RETSD is well known for its heritage language programs, German and Ukrainian bilingual as well as its French Immersion schools. Parents are worried that these programs may be in jeopardy if all decision-making power is concentrated with the Pallister government.
I’ve heard our community is also concerned with the immense volunteer workload parents will be expected to pick up through School Community Councils. Many of our schools already struggle to attract and retain parent volunteers.
Life is busy - between the demands of working one or more jobs and raising a family, many parents won’t have time to participate in these new councils. This will shut out many families from participating in decision-making, particularly those whose voices may be already overlooked.
I’ve also heard concerns about the powers of the Provincial Education Authority. The Provincial Education Authority will be made up individuals hand-picked by the Minister of Education. This is not transparent leadership and demonstrates that the PC government’s top priority isn’t our kids, it’s their bottom line. Bill 64 completely ignores the real reasons our kids are struggling, such as child poverty, mental health challenges, and a lack of one-on-one support.
Bill 64 is a massive overhaul of our education system in Manitoba. Parents and educators need time to learn about the harmful changes in this bill and make their voices heard. That’s why the NDP caucus decided to use our abilities under legislative rules to delay the passage of Bill 64 until the fall. The delay will give parents and educators more time to learn about the bill’s impacts on classrooms, and to mobilize against the PC’s plan for cuts.
As always, I encourage you to reach out to our office with comments and concerns at 204-594-2025 or nello.altomare@Yourmanitoba.ca
Transcona constituency report
Nello Altomare is the NDP MLA for Transcona.