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Month: August, 2020

A Whole Bunch Of Reasons Why Manitoba’s Back To School Plan Is The Worst

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Like me, you probably either watched or heard about the giant pile of crap that was the press conference held by our Minister of Education and Chief Public Health officer yesterday.

Like me, you probably walked away asking yourself what in the hell these people do all day besides pat themselves on the back and congratulate one another on being masters of the universe.

And like me, you feel a total lack of confidence in the viability of the plan in terms of keeping your children safe and completely disappointed in the lack of options, resources and empathy presented by Kelvin Goerzten.

Manitoba can and should do better than this. In terms of education and child care during this pandemic they have demonstrated an unwillingness to invest in our children and almost zero consideration for the challenges facing the average family in this province.

In no particular order, here is everything I think is wrong with what we were presented with yesterday:

They are not mandating masks.  This is unbelievable. Schools have been implementing dress codes for years that supposedly promote a “safe and respectful” learning atmosphere by policing the shoulders and knees of little girls, and you are going to try and tell me that when it really matters, we can’t or won’t enforce a temporary rule of wearing masks in schools? Now, when it really counts, and all the public health recommendations state that when a distance of two meters can’t be maintained -SPOILER ALERT- it can’t- masks should be worn?

They are refusing to invest in, develop and implement an online learning option.  This one is really beyond me.  This province has had almost half of a year to get their shit in a neat pile and figure this out. Other school systems right here in Canada and abroad had this figured out in a matter of weeks. It is quite obvious to me that it is possible, but for some reason Manitoba refuses to get on board.  Considering Goertzen spent some time during the pandemic rubbing elbows with the likes of people who would rather privatize education or create a bigger homeschool community I wonder exactly if there is another agenda here? Either way, the fact that this option has not yet been developed is ridiculous given the very real possibility of a second wave that could put us all back in lockdown this fall or winter.

We were reminded that he gave us notice 6 weeks ago to figure out backup childcare scenarios and that we need to be flexible.  This one was especially rich. The Pallister government has shown pretty much exactly zero consideration to the difficulties facing families during the pandemic. They cut funding and subsidies to nursery schools and daycares, leaving many people already without affordable and accessible primary childcare options, and no idea what to do in case of Plan B.  Goerzten sat there with his arms crossed and the condescending expression of a parent scolding a child while he reminded us that we’ve known for 6 weeks to figure out what we’ll do when we inevitably need to keep our kids home due to illness or isolation measures. We were told that we need to make arrangements with our employers, but there should have been some sort of collaboration with the Minister of Labour to protect employees faced with this situation. Why is there not a mandate that parents faced with these challenges are protected form job and income loss, or must be allowed to work from home wherever possible? It feels like this government is more concerned with protecting its budget and systems more than it is interested in protecting the people it is supposed to support.

There was no commitment to an investment in more teachers, custodial staff, support staff or to reducing already overcrowded classrooms. Why are we not addressing the issue of reducing class sizes and ensuring we have increased staffing levels to cope with higher workloads, higher absenteeism, and higher classroom needs? Who is going to provide all of these individual desks that don’t exist in elementary schools? These aren’t new issues, but have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Overall, as a parent I am deeply concerned over the lack of answers received yesterday. I am deeply concerned by the apathetic stance taken in regards to the health of our children. They are basically asking parents to participate in an epidemiological experiment with our most precious commodities as our subjects, without any other provincially supported options.  My confidence that this is going to go ok is somewhere in negative integers.

Final Grade:  F

Here’s The Thing About Burning Bibles

close up photography of white smoke

Photo by Joy Marino on Pexels.com

This is probably going to be a very unpopular post with a lot of people I know.  Probably with a lot of people I don’t know too.

I’ve seen the pictures and videos showing protesters burning American flags and Bibles in Portland.  It’s not a nice thing to see. It’s offensive to a lot of folks and shockingly bold to the rest.

But if you are enraged by those images without understanding it, you are still not getting the point about ANY of this.

Look, I don’t like the idea of burning Bibles and flags. Those things are supposed to be symbols of strength and safety and peace. They represent what is supposed to be good in this world.  The American flag is a symbol of freedom and opportunity.  The Bible is our reference to love and salvation.

Why would anyone want to burn those things?

Well, what if you felt like they were only symbols of those things for certain people?  BEYOND that, what if you felt like they have actually become weapons for those who are preventing you from attaining the very things that the flag and the Bible promise? What if you felt that a large number of the people wielding them were simply using them as shields to deflect their own poor behaviour towards your community? What if you felt they had become tools of exploitation and discrimination? What if the things that they represent for some have ceased to to exist for you?

I don’t like the fact that Bibles and flags are getting burned, but I can certainly understand why some folks might want to burn them.

They are angry.  They want your attention. They want to know why one Black man kneeling during the National Anthem is more offensive than one Black man dying.  They want to know why you are more enraged by a flag or Bible burning than you are watching a man be murdered right in front of you. And how you continue to deny that maybe there is a problem in America- and everywhere else in the world too.

Are you angry? Do they have your attention?  Do you feel uncomfortable?  Do feel like your power is slipping away?

If you do, then the protests might be starting to do their job.  The whole point of all of this is so that we experience the lack of control over our environment the way marginalized communities do. Protests are not effective unless there is something at stake- otherwise it’s easy to just ignore them.

And PUH-LEASE don’t start with the “NOT ALL XYZ”.  Everyone is aware that there are many good people that do so much good work for those around them. It doesn’t erase the systemic issues going on in our countries. There are good people everywhere. This isn’t about them.

Out of curiosity, would the same people be angry if they were watching a Quran burn? Or would that somehow be an act of patriotism?  If this question made you pause even for a second, ask yourself why that is. And then try to understand what you’re seeing on your computer or tv for what they are, and not what you assume them to be.

I feel frustrated that we are wasting energy debating about the existence of racism and marginalization. It’s exhausting and getting old. We could be using it all to make positive changes in the world, and yet here folks are, burning shit down because they still don’t have our attention. I can’t help but feel like it’s not because we can’t support change, but it’s because so many of us just like things the way they are.






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