Skip to main content

A Panel Discussion: Better than Bill 64 - Ideas to improve education in Manitoba

 On the evening of Thursday June 17th, I held a virtual Town Hall "Better than Bill 64: Ideas to improve education."  It was widely recognized that Bill 64 is (now was) a bad bill because it takes us backwards.  Among many things it will reduce local input into education, and the ability of schools to help disadvantaged students.   It uses a model which has been ineffective and rejected.  There are much better approaches than Bill 64.  This Town Hall focused on several options.  [Bill 64 will be removed from the Legislative calendar on October 6.  But what will replace it remains important.]

In introducing the subject I mentioned the importance of addressing poverty, and indicated that the focus of this panel was not on poverty per se, but on approaches which have the potential to improve learning whatever children's starting point, and in particular to help those who are currently struggling for whatever reason. 

Doug Adams and Heather Shelton spoke first - on competency based education.  They worked at a very diverse elementary school with many Indigenous and immigrant children in the inner city of Brandon. Together, they developed a remarkably successful approach which put children in classes based on the skill and knowledge level of the child instead of being based on the age of the children as is the usual process. 

Victoria Romero explained project-based education.   It is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and often complex question, problem or challenge.   It is being used successfully in several Winnipeg schools including the Maples Met School. 

Sheva Schwartz spoke about Leadership based education and the important of seeing that every child can be a leader, and putting a priority on teaching leadership skills to all children in order for them to succeed in school.   It is an approach which has been described by Stephen Covey in his book "The Leader in Me".   The approach has shown remarkable success in improving children's academic performance as well as in enhancing self esteem. 

Niigaan Sinclair, who is Anishinabe, an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba and a regular commentator on Indigenous issues, provided an excellent perspective on how we can improve education for Indigenous students in Manitoba, in part by ensuring that Indigenous cultures are better understood and taught using an Indigenous perspective.  He also talked about how we can improve our education system so that non-Indigenous students will have a better knowledge and understanding of Indigenous issues. 

Raj Gill, a grade 12 student who came to Manitoba with his family from India two and a half years ago, spoke of the challenges of being a new immigrant to Canada.  He provided ideas on how we can make changes to our education system to enable new immigrants to do well.  

There was considerable discussion following the panel presentations, with agreement that there is room to make important and effective improvements to education in Manitoba, but that the path to improvement is not Bill 64, it is alternatives which have been demonstrated to work and which are based on the experiences of students in Manitoba.  


Popular posts from this blog

Comparison between Manitoba and South Dakota shows dramatic impact of Physical Distancing

Manitoba implemented physical distancing measures in mid-March.  South Dakota has still not made physical distancing mandatory.   The result is a dramatic difference in the incidence of covid-19 viral infections between the two jurisdictions.   This graph shows the number of people with Covid-19 infections from March 27 to April 14.  Manitoba ( red line )  started leveling off about April 4 and has seen only a small increase in Covid-19 infections since then.   South Dakota ( blue line )   has seen a dramatic increase in Covid-19 infections since April 4.  Those who are skeptical of the impact of physical distancing in Manitoba should look at this graph! Data are from the Johns Hopkins daily tabulations

The hiring of Avis Glaze and what it may mean for the future of school boards in Manitoba

The Pallister government's education review commission has chosen Avis Glaze to be the lead consultant for its review of kindergarted to grade 12 education.   Based on Ms Glaze's recommendation to eliminate school boards in Nova Scotia - which the province has now done - there is concern she may coordinate a similar recommendation in Manitoba.   I asked about this in Question Period earlier today.   My question and the Minister's response is below - from Hansard. K-to-12 Education Review - Manitoba School Boards Hon. Jon -Gerrard - (River Heights):         The government of Manitoba has hired Avis Glaze, a lead consultant for its commissioned review–K-to-12 education. In her report for Nova Scotia, she referred to school boards as undisciplined, fractious, and role-confused entities, representing narrow interests, and she recommended that all school boards be eliminated.  [Nova Scotia has since elminated all school boards.]        Why would the government hire a

Will the Premier get prepared for the fall by improving ventilation in schools as Ontario is doing?

Good evidence now shows that improving ventilation in schools can dramatically reduce  COVID-19 infections.  See this scientific report at this link  Thursday May 27, I asked the Premier whether  he  would be preparing schools for the fall by taking measures to improve ventilation in schools in Manitoba.  My question and his response (from Hansard) are below.  Notwithstanding the Premier's statement that  "some" money may be used for ventilation, there does not appear to be a real plan to increase school ventilation and humidity as a major effort.  COVID‑19 Spread Prevention Ventilation Systems in Schools Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):  Mr. Deputy Speaker, improving ventilation in schools decreases transmission of COVID‑19, as I table. We called on the Premier to act on this last fall, but nothing was done. Air dilution methods, opening doors, opening windows and using fans have an effect, but combined with the installation of HEPA filters can reduce COVID‑19 i