An Irritated Rant About The Mishandling Of Education In Manitoba During Covid19

by Cookie

mother helping her daughter with homework

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

I’ve been mostly keeping my mouth shut about shit on Facebook that I don’t have control over.  I’m trying really hard to assume that while I don’t agree with a lot of the political decisions being made or many other arguments in circulation, that there is a very good chance that as a lay person, I likely don’t have access to enough knowledge or information to make decisions that are any better. I feel fairly certain that despite my ability to read and search for resources that confirm my own biases, perhaps it is wiser to trust experts in the field that have dedicated their life to the interpretation of the required data that helps make the required decisions for the population at large.

However, when it comes to education and children, I feel like I have a reasonable amount of experience, training and knowledge to have some insight, at the very least when it comes to my own children and what they need.

And if I’m being honest, what I’ve seen regarding public education in Manitoba during this pandemic has been a disorganized mess at best and an absolute embarrassing shit show at worst.

This government is so fucking concerned about balancing its budget that it has worried itself with saving money at the expense of our kids.   They haven’t seemed to make any standardized decisions regarding how to ensure accessibility to all kids in each school or division, let alone across the province. Instead of using teaching assistants to reach kids and work with them online individually where needed, or to assist teachers in creating and distributing work packages to kids, they worried more about policies regarding contact and saving a few provincial dollars by laying off hundreds of EA’s.  The time that children have been off has been squandered without much planning for how to navigate this or how to enable teachers to actually teach their kids online consistently.  Teachers have been asked to repeatedly reinvent their entire teaching curriculum on a whim, with the brunt of the teaching actually falling on the parents shoulders or on the kids to work independently.

Some kids have regular daily online classes with their teachers, and some have none.  Some parents receive an overwhelming amount of email correspondence with website logins, sign in information, worksheets to be printed- but no online teaching is happening.  Some teachers are doing an amazing job at creating lesson plans- but without any plan for delivery ( NOT THEIR FAULT).

And NOW, teachers are being sent back into the classroom, some supposedly to resume regular classes, some for individual or small group work, some for assessments, some for recovery learning, with 9 days notice.  Most of the teachers have no idea what is supposed to happen other than they have to be at work, with no plan for what to do with their own children.  Here they are, being asked to reinvent their wheels all over again.

Here’s what I think should be happening:

  1. They need to let go of this year.  You do not have time to meet, assess, plan and implement any sort of learning over the next 30 days while creating any sort of effective plan for the following school year.
  2. The focus should be on September.  This province needs to get its shit together and have 3 solid plans ready to be implemented at the drop of a hat.  This includes, *business as usual*, *100% distance learning* and * some hybrid of the two*.
  3. Distance learning must include actual online classes that are scheduled and accessible to all.  In places where kids don’t have technology, it needs to be provided.  If it isn’t possible for it to be provided, then reasonable at home support must be implemented with printed work and phone meetings with teachers or EA’s.
  4. Just like funds are being re-directed into health care, funding needs to be redirected to invest in Education. Cutting here is not acceptable. I don’t give a fuck about our debt right now.  The forest is on fire, stop praying for rain and get to work on putting it out. 
  5.  Stop talking about shit until you actually have shit to talk about.  We “might go back August 31”.  No.  Either do it or don’t.  Justify your decision with a solid plan with what you will accomplish specifically in that time that outweighs extending the longest term of the school year and potentially burning out your staff, students and parents.
  6. Create and implement a plan for next year that assumes the school year was finished on March 13.  Anything that was given to students after that was done so inconsistently that one cannot assume anybody learned it effectively. What learning concepts and tools were leftover to present to students in order for them to understand concepts presented in the next grade level?  How are you going to include these concepts into next year’s curriculum?
  7. MAKE THE TEACHERS PART OF THE PLANNING PROCESS.  If a bunch of administrative people who likely have not been in a classroom for years or at all are the only ones making the decisions, you will fail.  You need input from those who are living this mess. Period.

As an educator, I am appalled at what this province has managed to NOT accomplish during this time.  You’ve had  8 or 9 weeks to get your shit together and YOU HAVE NOT.

As a parent, I am furious, frustrated, and exhausted at the lack of planning, ingenuity, and guidance from the province’s policy makers.  The teachers are doing the best they can, and from the conversations I’ve had with them they are largely on their own.  Realistically, they have been working their asses off to get information to parents, but many of us are left to do the teaching of that information on our own, just to be told now that the kids will be assessed.  Don’t even get me started on this nonsense about sending report cards home this June.  What a bunch of shit that is a complete waste of time.

In my opinion, Manitoba is so stuck inside the box, that they haven’t been able to use any sort of creative problem solving to tackle the issue of actually educating our children properly.  Stop worrying about the rules, get out of the goddamn box, and FIX YOUR SHIT.

Sincerely,

An Exhausted, Irritated Parent Who Also Knows Thing Or Two About Education In A Non Conventional Way