ihaveanopinionidliketoshare

thoughts on life, parenting, news, and crazy shit

Are People Shitty, Or Just Afraid? Does It Even Matter?

man doing dab position near beach

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I’ve been sitting here for several days, between trying to get work accomplished, continuing to educate my beautiful students, and being the parent that my children need.  Notice that I didn’t say “homeschool” my children, because I am not.  I do plenty of activities with them, play music and read and try to continue to enrich their lives as if we are just on an extended school break.  They are young, they will come out of this with fond memories of a time we slowed down enough to focus on each other, at least I hope so.

In between all of that, I have been purposefully changing my social media presence to simply include a brief account of what our lives are looking like during this piece of historical significance. I have also started purposefully avoiding getting into any more conversations about this pandemic, or the measures being taken, or the possible cures or anything politically related.

If there is one thing I enjoy under normal circumstances, it is a good debate or impassioned conversation with opposing viewpoints or opinions where two people can look at an issue from two very different sides and learn from one another and grow as humans.  I think that difficult conversations are important to be able to understand that there is not one thing in this world that is entirely black or white, and that almost always we all deserve a seat at the table.

These are not normal circumstances.  And I am no longer enjoying the debate.  In fact, at best some of these conversations are making me really sad, and at worst I am absolutely horrified and disappointed in some of the people that I know and love dearly and the things they are either saying or virtually applauding.

Look, I get it. This whole situation blows. Try being a fucking musician in times like these and see how worried you are about your employment prospects for the near future.  Other industries are on hold right now.  Everyone is anxious and exhausted and 100% not in control and that produces a fear response that a lot of times makes people do and say hurtful things.

For the record, COVID 19 is a super shit thing that the entire world is having to go through headfirst, blind, and pretty much with flailing arms.  We don’t have a radar screen to navigate by here, so most reasonable leaders are trying to use lessons from history to determine how best to sail through this storm.   It’s going to be messy, and imperfect, and expensive.  There will be much economic fall out from this and we are all going to have sacrifices to make.  

Ironically, people who have less are the ones who seem to be the most understanding of this.  The ones who have the most are so used to getting their own way and having access to all of their entitlements that they can’t fathom sacrificing one thing from their hoard of capitalistic treasures in order to create widespread benefit for the health and welfare of everyone else.  And really, this is what this pandemic is showing me.  That many of us are so selfish and tied to material things that we are willing to “sacrifice one old granny” rather than sit tight and ride out this storm with grace.

I’ve read the conspiracy theories and they are annoying, not fact based, and scientifically inaccurate.  People want to push through experimental treatments with total disregard for human safety.  They think it’s fine to just let hundreds of thousands of people die and allow millions suffer because it’s “less than 1% of the population” so far. They keep talking  about how the numbers are so low and we are all fools hell bent on their economic ruin.  Talking about how our children will have to pay the price for this.

I don’t know for sure, but I feel quite strongly that these are merely excuses because they are tired of being inconvenienced. They are worried about their current lifestyles being permanently affected. And in response to that fear,  some people have a put a price tag on the lives of the vulnerable and the elderly and poor. There is a line drawn in the sand about what has value and what does not, and there are so many people that I thought I knew who are on the wrong side of that line.

COVID 19 is not a socialist plot to fuck you over.  The financial aid being given out is not an irresponsible and frivolous act that will be the downfall of the country or world.  It is a much needed rainfall in an out of control blaze of fuckery and flame.

By the way, in 1918, communities that completely shut down in response to the pandemic social distancing recommendations had better economic outcomes and faster, steeper recoveries than the communities who ignored them.

I could go on and on in order to rebuke every ignorant and cruel comment I have seen lately but am I exhausted by the seemingly never ending dialogue of selfish, misinformed people who are slaves too busy worshiping their green paper gods to have any sense of what is right and good.  I am sure I will have to continue to bite my tongue and ignore this continued dickery once I post this article as I get bombarded with more hate messages and hurtful comments.

When this lockdown first started, I had a lot of hope.  Not hope that it would be quickly resolved, but hope that we would all be able to value this “Grand Pause” in our lives and see the meaningful things we are blessed with and for the first time in a long time, really appreciate them.  I thought that parents would see this as an opportunity to reconnect with their kids, and families to actually eat dinner together again and realize that the hamster wheel we’ve all been on for so long maybe was spinning beyond our control. I hoped that we would once again start to be able to distinguish the difference between want and need and realize that simpler lives may, well, simplify our existence.  Love, connection, health, peace….I thought those things might re-emerge.

And don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of beautiful people out there doing beautiful things,  among them the artists and young people and communities working together to support one another and brighten our days and reach out to help where needed.

But for many others…..there is an ugliness that is probably being inspired by fear and lack of control that is making them search for someone to be angry at, or an enemy to fight, or some other reason why none of this can be really happening. And I just don’t personally know what to do about that.  Probably nothing but just feel sad about it.

Anyway, Bitches, Stay well, stay safe.  Hold the fucking line.  See you all on the other side.

 

Cliff Cullen should stop writing cheques with his mouth that he can’t cash

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The problem with making bold statements is that at some point you’re going to have to cash the cheque that your mouth writes. In Manitoba, it feels a lot like the cheques being written by our leaders are bouncing.

If you are anything like me, you might be feeling rather frustrated by the inability of political representatives to answer direct questions posed by media, constituents in formal emails or informal online forums. There is a lot of redirecting and deflecting going on, and ridiculously, blocking.

As elected representatives there is a responsibility to the public for transparency and honesty and neither of these things seem to be in the playbook written by Coach Pally and his team.

My specific experience has been one of hostility and buck passing, and of late, lack of ANY response- not even the stock, party written answers that are a waste of my good time and efforts.

I have to say that it sort feels as though the plan is to just pass off each inquiry rather than answer it, and force someone to repeatedly contact their representatives with honest questions about many concerning actions of this government in a time of unprecedented uncertainty- until we are gaslighted into believing that we are just being bothersome.

Personally, I don’t care if they are annoyed by me. I am as relentless as a dog with a bone. As a citizen who cares about her community and the well being of everyone, I will continue to be relentless in my inquiries until someone-ANYONE- in this government is able to be accountable to me for the words coming out of their mouths and the claims they are making.

At the moment, in light of Bill 64 and all of the abominable commentary by the Minister of Education in his recent guest column in the Winnipeg Sun, I am trying to figure out how this government can insist that they have reduced poverty rates in this province in the last four years by 25%. I want to understand how this was measured, what factors were considered and how they studied the varaibles. And IF (big if) this statement is true, how was it achieved? Wouldn’t the government be so proud of this amazing work that they would want to share their programs and policies with other provinces so that they would be able to achieve the same results?

I have many doubts about truth of this matter. I figure that if this statistic is not made up, the information to prove it and back it up would be readily available.

I have reached out several times to the Minister of Education by email. I wrote him directly, and also to my local MLA, who promised to forward my concerns and request information be sent to me. No response.

I phoned Minister Cullen’s office and provided my contact information. No response.

I was informed by a friend that she had been redirected to the Minister of Families to request this same information. I will not hold my breath for a response, but here is my letter to Minister Squires. If you are so inspired, feel free to copy and paste the text of the inquiry and initiate your own contact. They can’t ignore all of us, can they?

Good Morning,
Thank you for taking my call this morning.  
To follow up, I am requesting information regarding the claims of a 25% reduction in the poverty rate in the Province of Manitoba. Specifically, I would like to receive the studies/peer reviewed research indicating this change in poverty statistics. Ideally, I’d like to understand what outcomes were measured, in what populations, who performed the research and what the study designs were.
One would assume that a 25% reduction in poverty would translate to a significant and observed impact in local communities in terms of income level, employment rates (specific to the impoverished communities), access to resources, reduced use of food banks or shelters, improvement of health, and drastically improved educational outcomes. 
In addition, I would like to be sent information about how these outcomes were achieved, specifically what programs were developed and implemented/introduced.  A 25% reduction in child poverty is substantial achievement, and I would think the strategies used to get there should be shared with all who have a vested interest in helping those in need. 
I look forward to hearing back, and would be open to scheduling a meeting to further discuss the subject.”

Dear Manitoba, start enforcing restrictions or STFU

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Fuck restrictions.

Honestly. Closing retail spaces and restaurants and gyms again isn’t going to do anything further unless a few other things happen.

  1. Close the borders for real. Redefine what essential is and make sure that you monitor it. Yes, the variants are already here but adding new sources of infection is just plain dumb.
  2. Go to remote learning, at least for high school. Stop allowing team sports to practice. This is one of the fastest growing age groups spreading infection, and the data showing limited spread in schools no longer applies as variants are changing the game.
  3. Vaccinate everyone who works in a manufacturing or factory setting. These people are essential to supply chains and work in small, poorly ventilated environments and have a high proportion of new Canadians or folks living in multi-generational homes. This immediately makes close contact numbers high, exposes those more vulnerable, and continues to put at risk those that have no other alternatives for income, no sick benefits and do not have the option of working from home.
  4. Mandate anyone who is able to work from home to WORK.FROM.HOME.
  5. Vaccinate teachers.
  6. Vaccinate bus drivers and taxi drivers.

And here’s the big one:

It really does not matter one bit what restrictions you impose if people refuse to follow the rules. Increasing the restriction levels does nothing but further punish those who are already doing their best: wearing masks, limiting contacts, only seeing people outside their household outdoors, limiting non-essential activities. The people who aren’t doing this and are organizing anti-mask rallies, or spreading mis-information online, having personal gatherings, and basically anything else to effectively thumb their fucking noses at public health officers will continue to do so no matter what rule you make.

They are LAUGHING at you.

To be honest, we all are. You sound like a bunch of idiots. Nobody trusts that you know what you are doing or are prepared to actually back up these rules.

Until this government gets out there and actually enforces the rules they are making, not one of these anti mask “BUTMYRIGHTS” wads from a rancid dickhole is going to give a shit.

As we speak, there is an anti mask rally happening at the Forks. No cops, no bylaw officers in sight. Not one ticket being handed out, not one arrest being made. THEY.ARE.LAUGHING.AT.YOU.

If the Manitoba government wants people to take their Covid actions seriously, they need to get serious about them. Ticket every fucker who breaks the rules. They don’t pay the ticket? They can sit in jail until the 14 day quarantine period is over.

And I don’t want to hear anymore about how they are worried about people lying to contract tracers for fear of being fined. They are lying ANYWAY. If you had your shit together, you could easily investigate this.

Get your shit together, Manitoba. Or we are about to be Ontario, Part Deux.

On the subject of appropriateness and other bullshit

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I read something this morning that hit the nail on its fucking head.

https://bcmj.org/presidents-comment/nature-being-professional

Basically, this doctor in British Columbia talks about how we have these standards of “professionalism” and “appropriateness” and I swear to fucking god this man nailed it so hard.

I’m not a doctor, obviously, I am a teacher. A parent.

Both of these titles comes with this list of expected and accepted behaviours that people like to hold over your head not because they mean anything, but because it makes them feel better about themselves if they can have some criteria to judge you by.

“Teachers don’t get frustrated. They don’t get angry. They are always calm and patient and never swear. They engage in professional, arms length relationships with their students and their families. They don’t share personal experiences or stories. They don’t reveal personal details about faith or family or belief systems.”

“Parents have endless supplies of energy and selflessness and love. We shouldn’t yell, or consider ourselves. We are capable of knowing when library day is and whose laundry basket is full. We keep track of what time is swimming lessons and soccer practice and what day are we meeting friends at the park and who needs a new jacket and did you brush your teeth today and we’re almost out of ketchup. Our energy is endless and we take the time not to discipline our children but just have meaningful conversations with them and it’s ALL FINE ALL THE TIME HERE IS A NICELY EDITED PHOTO FPR SOCIAL MEDIA.”

It’s all fucking bullshit. They are impossible standards that are built on a mountain of lies we tell ourselves that do nothing but hide the truth about our personhood and all the beautifully real and messy thing that go along with being human.

Here’s the thing. The second you stop pretending that you need to live up to any of these standards is beyond liberating.

I literally break every rule, every fucking day.

Like Dr. Chow in the above article, I refuse to live behind a set of barriers between myself and my students and my children. I wear leggings and messy buns. I share my struggles and successes as a musician and a parent. I ask about their day and their feelings and I actually listen to them. I give them a safe place to fall without judgement.I say fuck in front of my kids and in the company of adults. I fuck up and get mad and take ownership of myself and say I’m sorry. I tell the truth about who I am every single day and in return, people feel like they can tell me the truth about who they are.

And while I may not be everyone’s favourite flavour at the ice cream shop, at least you know I’m not full of shit. Professionalism? No thanks. Realism? Yes please!

In return I feel an enormous sense of community around me. When my mom died two years ago, my students’ families took care of me, because I at some point had taken care of them. They fed me and cried with me and took care of my kids. When my dog died and my students came for their lessons, they hugged me and forgave me for being the worst teacher ever that week. When my students became teenagers and they needed an adult to be on their side when they made bad decisions and to give them advice, I was there. When they were hurt and needed help, they asked me. When my families were struggling as units, they shared their hardships with me and I loved them anyway.

When I was a terrible parent and was exhausted and shitty to my kids, the other moms reassured me. When I couldn’t find a solution they offered advice. They didn’t judge me. When they saw me failing or bitching or asking for help, they shared their own problems and complained in solidarity. We supported each other.

And honestly, I think being real and transparent and sincere is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and each other.

Personally, I don’t give a fuck about the details, as long as you own yourself. Being real and authentic can’t live in the same house as “appropriateness”.

And yes, I get it- there are obviously situations where we respect the boundaries and limitations of others. That’s a given. I’m just saying you can’t exist authentically in a bubble blown up on the expectations of others without being in fear of it popping all the time.

BE MESSY. BE HONEST.

A rage post dedicated to Brian Pallister

You know, I have been trying to write these nicely balanced articles full of good points that are blunt without hearing about the language I use, but I am pretty much over that today.

This is a rage piece, so if you aren’t here for that, I won’t take it personally. If you are a pearl clutcher, know that I will continue to use grown up words in a grown up place and you can either put on your big girl panties or complain about it to someone who isn’t me.

Manitoba is fucking bullshit right now.

I am so sick and tired of a government that is so clearly gaslighting people and vote pandering with their “keeping our promises” posts and throwing out some seemingly really terrific bones that seem to always come with conditions that end up bending you over and assaulting your back door.

It wouldn’t feel half as insulting or half as terrible if Brian Pallister would just seriously shut the FUCK up. Every time that guy opens his smug, arrogant mouth, teachers and health care workers everywhere both alive and dead collectively vomit into their own mouths or roll over twice in their graves asking Jesus to just rain down Armageddon already.

Look Brian. I get it. It’s been a real shit time to be in charge of anything. Someone is always going to be pissed off at you. But right now, TODAY, even the people who fucking like you think you are an absolute piece of shit.

Exhibit A: Today a reporter asked you “Does it bother you that teachers have to pay out of their own pockets for supplies?”

To which you replied “It doesn’t bother me at all…..I’ve watched teachers invest their own money out of their own pocket for decades now and I just think this is a good fair incentive to encourage other teachers to do the same.”

Once I picked my jaw up off of the floor, I wondered if you had ANY idea how enraged people- not just teachers- were going to be about those words?

And really, the answer is zero. You are so fully out of touch with the people of this province and such an arrogant fool that you couldn’t even muster up the foresight to imagine how ignorant this statement was.

Your government claims it will be investing record funding into education with this budget, and yet not two months ago a 1.6% cut was announced, which is forcing school divisions to slash their budgets. This will not only leave them chronically understaffed, but programs that provide the little bit of equity that is attainable like milk programs are on the chopping block. Teachers have been in contract negotiations since 2018, and I would bet my ass that Bill 64 will undermine the collective bargaining abilities from divisions once they cease to exist. Education support staff are heroes that are having their wages frozen while you and your gang will enjoy an increase that is retroactive to April 2020.

NO. Teachers should not be paying for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. If they do, I think the rebate you meant to offer is 100% reimbursement, not 15% of up to 1000$. It is a public system. They are not private contractors. Offering a tax refund so you have yet another reason to underfund the system is a dick move and you know that. And just because it has been happening for decades doesn’t make it right. It continues to create more inequity in the system.

There is so much contradiction in everything you do and say. You continually fuck things up and then act like a dick about it in press conferences to deflect from your deficiencies as a leader. You love to call people by their first names while we must address you by your title, MR. PREMIER, in order to try and diminish their status or credibility and don’t think for one second it doesn’t go unnoticed.

The last time a Conservative government treated healthcare workers and teachers like absolute shit it was the beginning of their own demise. 17 years of NDP governance followed-because that’s how long it took to people to forget.

We have two years until the next election cycle, Brian, and trust me, we won’t forget. Your legacy will ultimately be the downfall of you own party and you will be nothing but a series of bitchy memes people use to make fun of terrible leaders.

PS: take a warm bath and have a fucking drink or something. You always look like you just got electrocuted.

Surprise, surprise, the vaccination process is a mess too.

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SOMEONE has to help me understand this ridiculous dumpster fire of a vaccination rollout.

As with everything in this province introduced by this poorly prepared, short sighted and self congratulatory, Trumpesque government, the delivery of vaccines has fallen somewhere between an inconsistent process and a total mess.

All over social media we are hearing that some people are in and out in 30 minutes, while others wait in hours long lineups snaking through super centres and all the way across city blocks outdoors.

I keep reading that those who are visiting pop up sites in smaller communities like Morden are having positive experiences (thank god!) while those who are booking their appointments here in the city are absolutely not. Anyone with some reasonable vision could see from the beginning of the organization of such large scale vaccination sites were going to be a nightmare and they were better off with smaller scale, local community sites that served smaller populations.

Hey! Wait! Local administration works better than a large centralized one? Sounds familiiar-*throat clears* Bill 64– but that is a different post.

So my Dad had his appointment yesterday in the late afternoon. He arrived 20 minutes prior to his appointment to be sure he had time to check in. When he got there, the lineup outside the Convention Centre was a couple blocks long. In 80 km/hr wind gusts. It took about 30 minutes just to get inside the building. For the next hour he gradually moved along like one bull in a cattle herd up and around all levels, until he finally reached the space where the vaccinations took place.

His comments: The amount of space dedicated for vaccine spots were only about half full. There about 4 times the amount of volunteers on crowd control then people available to administer the vaccines, which seemed useless because the paths were clearly marked. While the online booking system was seamless, the actual logistics of the site was poorly organized and managed, they booked way too many appointments for what they could realistically manage and in his words “whoever is responsible for the logistical design and process of the site should be fired”.

So, this is 5 days after the supposed “scheduling glitch” occurred and Dr. Reimer has assured us it had been rectified, with wait times back down to 10-20 minutes. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I suppose we could always decide to drive 3 hours round trip to Morden for a more positive experience. I mean, a smooth, well run operation designed to serve the local population, right there in the political base of the governing party? You don’t say.

I also enjoyed the Minister of Health’s video post over the weekend telling us what a great job she was doing getting Manitobans vaccinated. Really? We have more vaccines in storage than you can get into arms, we are about to lose the race against the variants, and you want us all to pat you on the back and say job well done? While you scream about Justin Trudeau and lack of vaccine supply? Last week we had received about 248K doses of vaccine, with about 157K administered. With ANOTHER 123K arriving this week? Over the weekend you managed to vaccinate something around 3000 people in total. Does that sound like we have a supply issue?

I’d argue that we have a competence issue, but that’s just me.

You want to figure out how to get as many people in and out in the shortest amount of time while keeping them happy? Someone get an Olive Garden Manager and a team of hosts in there and this problem will be cleared up before you can say Hospitaliano! (sarcasm- mostly)

Once you have emptied your freezers and have people waiting to book appointments, cry about supply as loud as you need to, and I’ll even cry with you . Otherwise, I’d suggest closing your mouth and fixing this latest mess.

If we could just get some accountability, some transparency or maybe even a little truth from our leaders right now, a lot of us would be a little less angry.

Don’t you guys care about us? Don’t answer that.

Throwing shade at parents who can’t afford to “make sacrifices” to do a School Trustee’s job for free is Pallister’s latest gross thing

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“A great many Manitoba parents who are heroic in their behaviour make the decision to back their kids in their pursuit of a better life through education…….made sacrifices to make sure they were involved in their children’s education, read to their children, made the sacrifice of learning themselves…..”

These are the words our Premier chose to use when asked about how parents facing various social barriers to becoming members of school councils are going to have equitable voices with the proposed changes of Bill 64. As Dougald Lamont so eloquently pointed out, many parents don’t speak English, or work long hours or multiple jobs to make ends meet, and the reality is that communities lower on the socio-economic scale will be disproportionately challenged to find enough parent resources to take on the new responsibilities proposed in Bill 64.

The statement above is insulting at best and shows a complete lack of understanding of the struggles of many people in this province. Coming from a place of extreme privilege and refusing to see this Province through anything other than is his narrow field of vision, the Premier seems to be only capable of speaking from his own life of comfort without expressing any empathy or understanding for those who do not.

The average price of a house in Winnipeg is almost $300,000 and the average cost for a 2 bedroom apartment in Winnipeg is almost $1,300/ month. Minimum wage is $11.90. From my calculations, if you work 40 hours a week, your gross income is about $1,900/ month. Even if there are two parents in the home, working full time you are grossing $3,800. BEFORE tax.

Let’s assume that the parents have 2 children. According to http://www.numbeo.com, the average cost of living per person in Winnipeg NOT INCLUDING RENT is $1,137.22. Multiply that by 4, and add in rent, and you get $5,848.

Tell me, Mr. Premier, which part of their well being should the parents “sacrifice” so that they can do the job of trained professionals for free, because you think that we are all just lazy fools who don’t love our children? Should one parent quit their job to “back their children” and either forgo food, shelter, heat, clothing or transportation?

Tell me again, Mr. Premier how two parents working multiple jobs in order to just be able to scrape by are supposed to sacrifice anything else than they already have to prove your ideals?

On a personal level, I have struggled with being a working parent. My particular field of work involves almost exclusively annual contracts that are not protected by labour laws and have no guarantee on renewal depending on individual clients, the economic climate and funding. I acknowledge that this comes with the advantage of being able to decide how much work to take on and being able to schedule ( to a small extent) around my husbands rotating shift work. But it also means I have no sick time and any work I do not complete has to be made up or refunded. We were extremely fortunate to have incredibly supportive family (parents and chosen) that minimized our childcare costs, but most people are not that fortunate.

And you know what? We still struggled financially at times, even with both of us earning decent livings. We still made sacrifices. I worked a part time job on the weekends as a bartender just to help things along. Doesn’t leave much time for developing public school curriculum and disciplining teachers for poor performance, despite my efforts to be a “heroic” parent and do it all.

And even though I said a million times that I would have loved the opportunity to stay home with our kids, there was absolutely no way that was financially viable without tossing us into a situation where we couldn’t pay what is considered a very modest mortgage and living expenses.

We are now middle class, hard working parents, live full and busy lives, give our children every opportunity we can afford, and the AUDACITY of this Premier to insinuate that we aren’t prepared to make enough sacrifices to enable our children’s ability to thrive by doing the work of paid experts for free is absolutely ABSURD.

Some of us can’t afford to turn down a shift, or not accept a new client, or take an unpaid day off to do the job of a public education trustee or superintendent because our premier wants to throw ignorant insults at us. For the kids who are not thriving in the system, it isn’t because their parents aren’t willing to make sacrifices for them, it’s because we live in a province where our Premier is actively stacking more barriers in front of them. All while he insults their commitment as parents and gives the same old “family values, pull up your bootstraps” speech every right winger likes to throw at anyone who has ever struggled with something other than deciding which Caribbean Island to buy a vacation home on .

This has got to stop, Mr. Premier. You are way out of line, and should be ashamed of yourself and your absolute arrogance on topics you seem to know little about.

A step by step review about the Better-Education-Starts-Today report: It mostly sucks, but has some valid points

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So, after reading through the “Better Education Starts Today” report I have a few comments. This whole thing has really chapped my ass if I’m being really honest, and I’m fairly sure I have only scratched the surface of the details. Not all of the changes are as fucking terrible as I thought they’d be, and a few actually make a bit of sense. Others are terrific conversation starters.

Really, that’s what this report should have been. A conversation starter. Instead, we have a Premier with an agenda that seems to include dismantling and privatizing a whole bunch of things before he retires. The scary thing is that for someone who we know is not actively seeking re-election and has a majority government, there is little accountability and those of us in opposition feel like we have no leverage to inspire a better way.

There is a lot to unpack here, but here are a few of the things in the report that stood out to me:

“With 37 different governing bodies it was difficult to be agile and respond quickly, yet that is what Manitobans
expected and needed.”
(during Covid)

Excuse me, but teachers, parents and school administrators cried, begged for, screamed for and deserved real direction from the province about how to address the lockdowns, school reopening, lack of resources, lack of space, lack of unity, lack of competency and apparent lack of fucks given by our provincial government over the course of the pandemic. They literally just threw their hands in the air and told the divisions to figure out their shit, which left them scrambling and likely compromised safety for students and staff. But it was obviously because there were 37 divisions. WHAT SHIT.

“Parents and caregivers played an important role during COVID-19, yet they struggled to access information
about changes and to inform and influence decisions.”

We lacked access to information because our government didn’t provide what we needed. It constantly changed and contradicted itself and was confusing. The government had months to get their shit together and just did not do their job.

“COVID-19 affected student engagement and learning differently, and a one-size-fits-all approach will not work
now or for the future.”

Well, interestingly enough, that seems to be exactly what the government wants to do. Standardize every classroom. Standard test, standard methods. They want everyone to play the same game with the same amount of skill and talent, but some of kids are on astro-turf, some are on wet grass, some are in a fucking mud puddle and a whole bunch of others are almost underwater.

“Retain two boards to oversee the delivery of education: a newly created Provincial Education Authority
(appointed members)”

I am all for a provincial education board as long as the representatives are education professionals that are NOT appointed by the governing political party, but rather nominated by the Manitoba Teacher’s Society and elected by them AND have specific terms of service.

“Manitoba needs a fair and sustainable funding model. We are the only province to set taxes at the school division
level. This means some divisions collect more revenue than others. Since education property taxes comprise 42%
of all education funding it leads to disparities in funding for schools and outcomes for students.”

This is so fucking stupid and such an easy fix. Taxes in general are collected on a rate level, either a portion of your income or according to property values. Continue to collect taxes in the same manner, but divide it equitably among the divisions. Meaning that (CLUTCHING PEARLS) those who are more well off will be supporting those who aren’t, levelling the playing field. Part of the price of living in a nicer, bigger house is that you will have to help to care for the well being of others less fortunate. All in the name of standardized education.

“To improve student outcomes, the Commission recommended focusing on deep implementation of the existing
K to 12 curriculum, including a focus on foundational knowledge, skills and abilities students should have when
they finish high school”

Ok so, this is a terrific goal. EVERYBODY wants the kids to succeed and improve. You know what helps kids learn? Not being hungry, or sad or scared or hurt. Anyone who has ever worked with children should understand that children who don’t have their basic needs addressed will struggle no matter how many curriculum meetings you have or how often you discipline a teacher. Address the poverty, address the social issues, and the children will have a better chance to succeed.

Not only that, but find creative ways to teach the same concepts and skills and help kids develop good learning behaviours. Make music study a priority in early years to support literacy and numeracy while giving children the ability to focus and develop consistent work habits. Help them WANT to come to school.

“Learning environments for Indigenous students must infuse culturally and evidence-informed strategies that
embed Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. Students need to see themselves reflected in the space
and in the texts they interact with by incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing and being in classrooms. “

This is one part of the report I mostly agree with. I would argue that this education needs to be included in all curriculum to create empathy and understanding of Indigenous issues so that we can begin to change the perception and see the value in the culture and traditions of our Indigenous peers.

“Establish a taskforce, in connection to the Poverty Reduction Strategy, to examine the linkages between
poverty and education and support the implementation of strategies to improve engagement and outcomes
for all students.”

THIS. Nothing should really be moving forward until this happens and there are clear goals and plans in place to reduce poverty in this province. Otherwise we will chase our tails for the rest of ever.

“Build a provincial system of remote learning”

Well they’ve finally seen the light have they? There are many situations where a child may need to be out of school for a while, a parent may not be equipped to homeschool and they need education support. This should have been in place in September 2020, but what the fuck do I know? I’m just a a lowly potential candidate for a community council….

“In recognition of the importance of local voice in education, Bill 64 incorporates a number of changes to increase
parental and community engagement by replacing informal parent councils with a School Community Council
(SCC) for every school. The role of the School Community Council is to advise the school principal on school
matters, including the needs of the community it serves and strategies for improving student achievement and
well-being. All parents and caregivers of that school community will be members and they will elect an executive
to work with the principal on matters impacting the school community. This will require a renewed emphasis on
engaging parents and communities so that they are reflective of the diversity of schools.”

You guys, I just don’t know about this. I believe parents should have a voice, but I find it completely inappropriate to give parents this kind of leverage over the school. We should be able to trust the educators and the professionals to take care of our children the way they always have. And unfortunately this will not be the same opportunity across all communities. Parents who work shift work or single parents with young children will find it difficult to serve on these boards. Communities that have a lot of housing instability could potentially struggle with inconsistent representation and inability to make the commitments needed for these boards to be effective. It means that schools in highly privileged and wealthy areas will thrive in terms of their voice, and those who are already marginalized will not have a strong voice. It sounds like an enormous responsibility, the work is unpaid and the folks getting involved won’t necessarily know anything about classroom dynamics, structure or needs. And the thought of parents being able to discipline a teacher gives me the fucking willies. It’s inappropriate and foolish. A parent’s voice is important, but should not carry more weight than the professionals who dedicate their lives to our kids. What a joke.

Do better, Cliff. It’s a shit start with some actual potential. Hear what the critics are saying instead of what your puppet master is demanding.

A rant about the new Education Bill in Manitoba. {SPOILER} It’s not going to make anything better.

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Pardon me for not feeling like I can trust this government any more than than you could could trust me to leave the last shot of tequila for you, but this new education bill stinks to high Heaven.

In the guise of creating better educational outcomes for students in this province, and reallocating resources to the “front line” the province is going to create a centralized system that gives you little to no representation at the local level, other than a volunteer Community Council of parents who can have all the say in the world they want, but no voting power on issues that affect them individually.

Look, I am all for eliminating redundancies at the top and not paying 6 figure salaries to a bunch of people who have also failed to solve any of the short term or long term issues plaguing our educational system. That’s cool. Let’s stop talking about shit and actually go in and implement things and invest in the system.

But getting rid of elected representation in favour of a bunch of appointees who will probably have coincidentally contributed major funding to the political party in power is scary.

I kinda don’t give a shit what the report says. If they really want to know why the kids are “falling behind” go and spend a fucking week, a day, or an hour in some of our core area schools and you might get a real understanding of the social issues and barriers the kids face to getting a good education. If we continue to ignore that teaching the WHOLE CHILD is paramount to impacting their academic outcomes, we will continue to fail.

In Manitoba, where in some populations over 60% of children live in poverty, teaching the whole child includes feeding them, clothing them, and loving them. A child doesn’t give a fuck about learning to read when they wear sandals to school in -30C weather and haven’t had a decent meal in a million years. Unstable housing and food insecurity are problems that need solving before you can even hope to get their attention.

Once you do, you have to give them enough confidence to TRY.

Manitoba students rank the lowest in math and second lowest in reading. Meanwhile, a lot core schools don’t have enough funding to feed the kids AND provide arts programming. And you know what is one of the best precursors to numeric and phonetic awareness? MUSIC. And what is always the FIRST thing to be cut? Music.

This province needs to pull it’s head out its ass and think outside the proverbial box. Go ahead, cut the top salaries, but don’t start telling me that the representatives are going to be appointed by the government and any parent or school is going to have a real advocate. Don’t pretend for one second that I, as a parent, am going to have the same kind of access to have my concerns addressed trying to get in touch with the Minister of Education, rather than my local school trustee.

I fear that centralizing the system will allow those who are marginalized to shrink further and further into the background, while the kids with stable homes and parents who are available to advocate for their needs will be heard loud and clear. I fear that the kids who already have nothing will just drop out.

I fear that creating more standardized testing creates a situation where we are “judging a fish’s ability to climb a tree”, rather than nurturing relevant educational goals in specific communities.

I fear that the kids who learn atypically will suffer further losses to their support systems. I fear that this will be a total fucking disaster, while the government gives themselves three cheers for saving 40 million dollars in salaries, and hires a few more teachers for show.

Until I hear specific plans outlining HOW this is going to make it better rather than “we’ll save money” I’ll just assume that the whole idea is fucking bureaucratic nonsense.

BY THE WAY, saying “we estimate to save 40 MILLION DOLLARS” doesn’t sound like you intend to reinvest that money to front lines at all, CLIFF.

Apparently, Diva Cups and tampons ain’t got nothing on USB sticks in Manitoba

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Is anyone else confused about the statements made by the Hon. Cathy Cox when Uzoma Asagwara asked her whether or not the Conservative government would commit to making menstrual products accessible for all students in Manitoba Schools? The question was direct, but the answer seemed to be speaking about a completely different topic. Minister Cox rambled on about providing funding for USB data blockers to ensure safety while charging their computers or phones. As far as I know, no young woman has attempted to use a USB stick or a laptop as a substitute for a feminine hygiene product, and I am absolutely dumbfounded by the answer that was given.

Was this simply an avoidance tactic regarding a topic she had no satisfactory answer to, or does Minister Cox not know the difference between a vagina and a charging port? C’mon, honey….one is between your legs and the other is generally on top of a workspace. Unless…nevermind.

I mean, yes, they both have a few common characteristics. Both are holes that from time to time, need filling. One is typically smaller and more appropriate for the workplace. One is usually safe to play with in water, while the other may pose an unnecessary risk when wet.

Does anyone else feel a tad concerned that the Minister of “……and the Status of Women” was asked about the accessibility of menstrual products for students in our province, and she talked about keeping women safe from online dangers? Is it because of lockdown? Are the rules so strict that even Aunt Flo had to do virtual visits and Minister Cox is worried about women being conned by hackers?

Or am I missing the latest? I mean, is there some information available out there regarding the absorbency of USB sticks? Do they come in different sizes? Is there an applicator? Are they biodegradable? Can I safely use a data blocker on heavy flow days without worrying about leaks or embarrassing accidents? Will my IPhone help prevent toxic shock syndrome when safely charged?

Alternatively, perhaps Minister Cox felt uncomfortable with the topic. Perhaps she felt ashamed of menstrual cycles or didn’t want to offend any men in the room with period talk. Maybe the word vagina has been stricken from allowed language in the Legislature.

Or, maybe a tad more likely, there was an unwillingness by our government to address real concerns that are limiting to women, particularly those in challenging economic situations. Perhaps they forget that education is the best tool we have in preventing poverty cycles and that if young girls and women are having to miss school because they have their periods one week out of four, then in the spirit of equity we should support the solution- which is to make them available at school.

It really wasn’t a hard question, and the either ignorant or intentional avoidance of a conversation that should have been so obviously easy was fucking ridiculous.

DO BETTER.

Still In Love……

I’ve been seeing this Valentine’s Day challenge all over Facebook this week. Everyone keeps telling us the “details” of their relationship- how they met, where they first kissed, who said I love you first. You know, all the important memories.

It’s fun to go down memory lane like that.

Husband and I met at the Olive Garden. The Fucking Olive Garden. We both worked there…it’s not like he fucking picked me up over some all you can eat pasta fagioli and salad or anything. I was fresh out of a really yucky relationship that ended two years too late, and he was absolutely not interested in dating whatsoever.

But “I” was irresistible, OBVIOUSLY, and he showed up one night when I was working late and he was off with a case of beer and an invitation to go to a party. The party consisted of a bunch of the guys who worked in the kitchen and a whole lot of pot and some of the funnest times I have ever had.

Our relationship was instantaneous, but oddly evolved slowly at the same time. We were the best of friends, reluctant to say boyfriend, but eager to say I love you. It was easy and we were opposite in every single fucking way but somehow always ended up in exactly the same place.

I remember our first kiss on the doorstep of my parent’s house, and our first apartment, his marriage proposal after me explaining that it was time to get married, and all of the important milestones that couples everywhere document in their stack of photos and memories.

Perhaps more importantly though, I remember being this crazy girl that refused to be controlled and how he never ever tried to control me. He let me pound bottles of gin and dance on tables and slam on the brakes in the middle of the highway to look at a bird or get out and pat some horses in a field.

He always picked me up and fed me bites of his dinner across the table and made me laugh and walked right into my house without ever knocking.

And along the way we had our troubles. We both struggled with mental health and career changes and heavy, repetitive loss. We fought. We cried. We yelled. We swore we were not meant to be.

We had our babies and things got harder. We were tired. We neglected each other in order to survive individually. We almost gave up so many times.

But we didn’t.

A true love story isn’t about who is stubborn or drives better or falls asleep first and hogs the covers. It includes all of those things, but our story is about the things that brought us together and almost tore us apart,and the life that we have built.

In my forties, I realize that true love is not about butterflies and first kisses. It is about patience, commitment, tolerance and gratitude. It is about sacrifice and compromise. It is about acceptance and loving all of the parts of someone even when you don’t like them.

It’s about taking turns lending strength and letting shit go. Love means taking good enough care of yourself so that you can give the best of you to your partner.

And so we’ll carry on. I’m sure that I’ll be an absolute ridiculous bitch about something and he’ll tell me to go fuck myself and we will not speak for an hour sometime again in the really near future. Because we’re human. And it’s really, really ok.

We’ll still be in love after.

That is what a love story is.

Still being in love after…..

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