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Category: parenting

In Manitoba, we’re looking after ourselves now

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God I am so tired.

Of literally everything.

I am tired of wearing every hat- employee, teacher, parent, wife, daughter, friend, advocate, mouthpiece, confidante. I am tired of waiting for it to end and it never fucking ends.

I am tired of not knowing, trying to figure shit out, decision making, mitigation, concession making, pivoting, and fighting.

Mostly the fighting. Everybody, including me has their opinion about how to go about fixing the mess we’re in or how to make it better, and we are ALL experts on pointing out the mistakes others have made and all the coulda woulda shouldas in the history of ever.

In the end I don’t think any of it really matters anymore. Maybe I am just feeling abandoned by a government and a community that seems to have just given up. Maybe I am just feeling disheartened that some people are so greedy and stupid and selfish that they seem willing to risk the well being of others in the name of the almighty dollar. Maybe I am just feeling defeated that after 2 years of this fuckery, even the people who tried so hard in the beginning are too exhausted to continue on.

I get it. This has gone on for a really long time, the current situation is pointing to disease that produces less severe outcomes proportionally and appears much milder in the acute phase.In this exact moment it feels like continuing to take pauses and make more sacrifices is overkill for some people. And as much as I hated watching that complete shitstorm of a cuntboxing match of a press conference this week, one gross truth emerged from it: we really do need to take care of ourselves at this point, because the solidarity that used to exist as we all swam upstream in a body of liquid shit over the past couple of years is clearly starting to crack.

It feels like the province has lost control of the situation because they invested in the wrong strategies and resources and didn’t listen to the people on the front lines. (hint- ALWAYS listen to the people on the front lines when you want to fix something) The current strategy appears to be reminding us that our province was the first to implement restrictions 12 months ago and gaslighting the public about capacity while manipulating data and basically just being a bunch of ignorant assholes. Good reason fell on deaf ears as economic priorities took precedence, but it is a fool’s errand. We are already dealing with a loss of access to essential services due to a lack of human resources that I believe will get worse before it gets better.

So at this point, Heather’s statement is accurate. “It’s up to Manitobans to look after themselves” because the system is in failure.

So as I digest this thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have zero fucks to give about what anyone else does at this point. I don’t care if the province says they expect my kids to go to school. They aren’t going right now. I don’t care if they say I can’t have access to the same short term supports others will get, because I am still not sending them. I don’t give a fuck if you don’t get vaccinated. Fine. Exercise your right to suffer. If you want to take your mask off and walk around some shitty restaurant with a bunch of other dickholes flaunting your rights and exposing your tiny brains and, go right ahead. I don’t care about that either.

I am tired. I am putting on my own oxygen mask so that I can help my own people. I don’t care if you disagree with my personal decisions, or think everything is ok and I am crazy, or wanna explain this data or that data. Not one person needs to justify themselves to me or anyone else. Do what you want to do. Accept whatever risks you choose. Weigh your options. Own your shit and deal with the consequences or rewards.

Cause in Manitoba, we look after ourselves.

Make no mistake, this extra week of remote learning is a giant fuck you to educators

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I’m sure many of you were glued to your devices waiting with baited breath for the education press conference this afternoon in Manitoba. I am also sure that many of you, like myself, were expecting the government to announce further restrictions and a temporary move to remote learning as we ride this newest wave of Covid fuckery.

Dear Heather and Cliff had other plans. She sat there with her cunty smirks and him in his bewildered gaze trying to pronounce hard words in his briefing and announced that they would be moving to one week remote learning not because of the enormous spikes in Covid transmissions, rising hospitalizations, and unknown outcomes yet to happen- but to give the educators more time to prepare the schools to make them safe for the return of in person learning.

I’m sorry. I know I am just a lowly peasant and not one of the anointed stakeholders that are spoken of so frequently in these pressers, but what the actual fuck.

Prepare for WHAT, exactly? WITH what, exactly? Another shipment of improperly donned medical grade masks by hundreds of tiny humans, some more barrels of hand sanitizer and an inspection of windows that don’t open and ventilation systems that do nothing but recirculate the same air around the same building until the end of time? Will they hire more lunch monitors to make sure the kids sit in their spots while they eat maskless twice per day and toss their tiny little aerosols of Covid cooties into the air for someone else to enjoy later? Is there a secret shipment of hazmat suits coming in sizes XXS to XXXL that haven’t been announced yet?

And the 550,000 RAT’s that have supposedly finally been allocated to schools instead of to pompous morons who refused to get vaccinated? How long is that going to last 300,000 students? And what are the protocols for their use? How exactly do we expect this to help?

Whoever decided that going to remote learning was going to give teachers and administrators “more time” is either a liar or an imbecile. How in Satan’s sweet hell are school staff supposed to reconfigure classrooms, prepare material for home learning, inventory supplies and PPE, rearrange cohorts etc etc etc with students in the fucking school and the rest of them in online class? When is this magical preparation (of what I am still uncertain) going to happen?

No. This is the government telling teachers to go fuck themselves. Since being elected 5 years ago there has been a war raging between government and teachers and I feel like today’s announcement was like Heather saying “Oh you need time, we’ll give you time” and she loved every fucking minute of it.

Furthermore, we basically have no new information. Are we reopening in Code Orange? Where is all the extra staff going to magically appear from? What is going to be done with staff shortages? How important will education be then, Cliff? Or will it just give people one more opportunity to call teachers lazy and overpaid babysitters? Once again, there are more questions than answers and no details about what exactly is going to be accomplished.

Teachers and schools have been repeatedly neglected and set up to fail since all of this began and here we are again. Politicians self congratulating themselves and jerking each other off on camera while they talk about all this money they have given to schools. What was it for? Is it the 80 million from the federal government from last year that wasn’t “invested” in education as promised that you are now taking credit for? Where is the accounting? Why are you so completely full of shit? People just want straight answers and some accountability. We are frustrated. We don’t trust you.

This “extension” is stupid. Pull the plug and do something actually proactive or don’t and live with the consequences of your decisions. But putting schools in another impossible situation so that everyone can be mad at them is a cowardly deflection of our government’s consistent ineptitude and miserable attitude towards educators.

No, I don’t think I will be sending my kids back to school in January.

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Let’s be honest. I personally don’t know of any parent (especially working parents) who enjoyed or felt successful at remote learning. I’m not talking about parents who chose to homeschool their children as a means of regular education and have the time, energy and will to take on this enormous task. I’m talking about being thrown into a poorly supported (by the government) situation where the amount of hours in a day don’t ever feel enough nor do the limitations of our patience.

But let’s also be honest about something else.

I personally can’t envision a situation where sending our children and educators back into the classroom for 7 hours a day, without the resources- both material and human- to make it a safe environment for the students or the staff.

Our provincial government is once again busily dropping the ball and keeping parents and school staff in the dark about what the actual situation is and how they plan to address the challenges before them. In fact, it feels like they have been very blatantly gaslighting us all into believing that everything is just fine, and that they have it all under control. Just be honest for once. Please. It is so painfully obvious that we are making public health decisions based on political outcomes and I am absolutely so fucking sick of it.

I don’t know about you, but being repeatedly and consistently bullshitted by what is probably the worst political leadership in the history of ever in Manitoba feels like a slap in the balls already.

Around the country and around the world, we are seeing staffing crises in multiple sectors. New York City has an emergency workers shortage of 30%. WestJet just announced a reduction in services as they struggle to staff flights. London has reduced tube services as they also face a large number of train conductors and staff off sick.

As usual, the tits in charge of Manitoba have set up a scenario where they will try and tell us that they aren’t seeing transmission in schools, they are safe, blah blah blah. They have instructed those under 40 to not get tested, opening up a door where they don’t have transmission and case data for school aged kids, so how will we know? We still don’t know how and when rapid antigen tests will be used, the schools are scrambling to implement the distribution of them, N95 masks are difficult to find and certainly not handed out in an equitable manner, and the schools have a whole extra TWO FUCKING DAYS to figure it all out.

So what is the government assessing in those two days? Are they figuring out how to help the schools split all the classrooms in two? How to use the limited staff and resources they have to try and distance and manage classrooms using EA’s to supervise as teachers run back and forth from room to room? What about how they will manage the inevitable staffing shortages that will occur as the adults get sick? Are they getting ready to keep the essential workers’ kids in person and organize remote learning packages for others? Or are they going to just pretend that they don’t have to worry about children getting sick anymore despite the alarming increase in severe illness in children in other jurisdictions – or continue to not report the outbreaks currently underway in our Children’s hospital here?

We are 10 days from the start of the winter term. Educators need better communication. Parents need better communication. This province deserves better communication than a Premier who shows up once her tan has faded enough to not be so obvious, a health minister who only shows up to deflect every single question ever asked of her once her nails are fucking dry, and an education minister who seems to feel like his role is purely ceremonial.

Personally, I don’t have any trust left in the system. Our educators are worn out. They are getting sick. Two staff members DIED at the same school this week. Parents are worried. I AM WORRIED.

I don’t actually give a shit if Omicron is mostly less severe. Less severe than what? Than dying? Than needing hospitalization in the acute phase? A lesson in proportionality: a smaller percentage of an exponentially bigger number is still a whole fucking lot. More than Manitoba can handle, and more than is fucking reasonable to risk.

So no. I don’t think I will be sending my kids to school in January. I fucking hate that this is where I am at again, but it is what it is. I actually feel safer sending my kids to extra curricular activities that provide shorter exposure, better ventilation, smaller numbers and business owners who hare able to control some variables in the name of keeping everyone safe and keeping their doors open.

And once again, those of us privileged enough to be able to say “NOPE” will have a better chance of escaping this wave that those that rely on schools to not only educate their kids, but care for them. There is no equity given to those already underserved in terms of resources, care, funding or options. I can’t find all the answers for everyone, and I wish to God I could. All I can do is be part of the solution by trying to keep our little family safe.

And PS, I will participate in “remote learning” as it it provided or not provided on my own terms. I am not killing myself or my relationship with my kids to meet some made up standard of what they need to know about the history of Egypt when they are 9 years old. I don’t give a fuck right now. My priorities will be happiness, survival, coping, health, inquiry based learning and fun. I will try to facilitate work sent home as we can tolerate and that is IT. If that makes me a bad parent then there is a place reserved in my mind for you to go fuck yourself.

I hope this is the last time I have to vent this type of frustration, but I suspect our leaders will continue to suck ass. So until we get new leaders, I’m gonna take matter in my own hands and do the best I can.

Solidarity to all the educators, staff, parents and kiddos out there. I hope you all stay well and we see the actual beginning of the end after this.

It’s not even Halloween and I am already so tired of all the things

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We are less than two months into the school year, and I gotta tell you, I am already over everything.

I’m over the 50-60 hours work weeks. I am over managing that with the needs of the kids and their activities. I am over packing lunches and early mornings and running for the school bus and arguing about bedtime. Especially bedtime. Bedtime can go fuck itself. The End.

Mostly, I am over feeling like I am stretched so thin that I suck at everything I do. Maybe it is leftover trauma from all the lockdowns and a feeling of being so permanently overwhelmed that doesn’t want to let up.

Or MAYBE the last 18 months have enlightened us to the fact that we (in particular working mothers) have lost sense of a life balance that is even remotely reasonable and sustainable. I can’t help but feel like this was something we always knew was a problem but didn’t want to admit to ourselves, to our employers, to our spouses or to each other.

Seriously, who the fuck decided that working full time, plus commuting while raising children was really going to be good for us? Who decided that starting every day at 6am, rushing around to get everyone ready for the day, sending off the kids, working our asses off all day, rushing home to do pick ups, feed the people, rush to get to the next thing, rush home to bathe and go to bed -was a good idea? God forbid you don’t work a regular schedule either, because who really does anymore anyway?

I honestly don’t know what the answer is. I mean, obviously as a fairly *successful* working mom, I fully advocate for women to have meaningful and fulfilling careers WHILE being able to raise a family. So why does it feel like these issues of balancing family and career are so heavily skewed towards women? I don’t want to discount all the dads and their efforts, but it certainly feels like the assumption to this day is that the mother is the primary caregiver and it is us that make the bulk of the sacrifices and carry the heaviest part of the emotional load.

At the risk of sounding like I just want to bitch because I am tired and burnt the fuck out ( I am) I am also truly wondering how to better support families and working parents.

Can work days be tailored to accommodate school hours? Can employers be mandated to offer on site childcare options for employees? Can we job share more commonly? In light of what we learned during the pandemic can we offer a hybrid model of working remotely and on site to reduce commute times?

What about restructuring societal norms? How do we normalize fathers taking paternity leave? How do we normalize it being ok for women to ask for help and admitting that they are struggling? Multigenerational homes? Cooperative living communities where childcare duties are shared?

I certainly can’t wave a magic wand and solve all of my own problems, so I won’t pretend like I have all the answers about this most challenging season in life. All I know is that I am tired, so I will share what I think might help in the meantime:

Bitches, give yourselves a fucking break. Stop making the gold standard so fucking hard. Give yourself permission to heat a store bought, frozen lasagna for dinner. Feed them hotdogs and pre-made subs from the deli. Hire a house cleaner. Skip the gym without guilt when you feel like you can’t add another thing to your plate. Build a village and take turns with the kids. Have your groceries delivered. Do the things that make all the bullshit easier however that looks like for you, and focus on spending time on the things that matter more.

And don’t forget to do a shot of tequila. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s ok to butter the toast too.

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This morning my youngest asked me to make him eggs and toast. Since the frying pan was already out I decided to also have an egg. I popped two pieces of fresh french bread in the toaster, fried an egg, buttered my toast and added a drop of ketchup.

It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if you have a history of disordered eating, or any type of unhealthy control issues surrounding food or body image, it really kinda is.

The simple act of just eating what you feel like eating without allowing yourself to negatively self talk is a huge deal for anyone who has historically or presently associated their self worth with what they put in their mouths, while trying to conform to a societal beauty standard that is unattainable or unsustainable for them.

The simple act of buttering my toast without feeling guilty about those “unnecessary calories” was, in fact, a really big deal for me.

Body positivity isn’t about celebrating fatness. It isn’t about giving up on taking good care of your body. For me, it’s recognizing that taking good care of my body begins with loving myself exactly where I am at and understanding that it is ok to be living in whatever skin I am currently in. It’s about not having to to justify the fact that I have soft spots and round spots by killing myself at the gym and constantly injuring myself by trying to push my body to places it doesn’t want to go.

It’s about taking part in things that make me feel good and strong and not feeling like changing the shape of my body is the ultimate accomplishment. I’m 43 years old, and am really, really tired of that narrative.

Since childhood, I have lived a life of restrictions around food. It came from doctors, coaches, parents, teachers. And I know that they all felt like they were doing what was in my best interest, but in reality, it damaged me. It made me feel like it didn’t matter what else I was good at, or even brilliant at, unless I could just not be fat. Their comments became my inner voice and it turned into a life long torment that made me feel like I was never really in control of anything unless I could control my body through deprivation or obsessive habits, and created the inability to ever feel like I was enough unless the number on the scale was deemed acceptable. It lead to avoiding doctors appointments because I didn’t want to see what the number on the scale was or hear the speech about healthy eating and exercising. It meant that running 5km 4 times a week still wasn’t enough. It meant not wanting to go out for dinner with my husband or friends because it wasn’t my “cheat day”. It damaged me.

Fast forward to the pandemic where we are all living some variation of our former selves. Like many of us, I wanted to find ways to “work on myself”. I dieted again. I ironically felt in control of things during a time where we didn’t have control over much, but realistically, food was controlling me yet again. Social media showed me pictures of weight loss programs and people who were celebrating their accomplishments and it just felt like an affirmation that I was unlovable unless I also attained such changes. But it made me finally decide that all of this bullshit was just enough.

I honestly don’t know who decided that thin was in, or that it was the ultimate goal for everyone, but I’ve honestly fucking had enough of it. People come in all shapes and sizes and I don’t know why we can’t just fucking accept that.

If there is part of the population who don’t fit into a “standard” airplane seat, change the standard, or make different sizes available. In the clothing store, we don’t need “plus” sections or “regular” sections. Just make the fucking clothes available to every body. Stop pretending that you did keto or weight watchers to “feel better and get healthy” because I’ve done them all too and that is a fucking lie.We did it because the world told us we were fat, and less than and we didn’t want to feel that way anymore. We wanted to shop in the same part of the store as all the pretty people do. And I get it. It feels GOOD for everyone to tell you how amazing you look- but why didn’t they see how beautiful we were before? Why can’t we see that our beauty exists in every shape?

So, yes, take care of yourself. Run the miles, take your vitamins, eat your vegetables to make sure you can poop, walk your dogs, swim the laps and pump the iron. But for the love of fucking GAWD, butter your toast too and remember that you are pretty anyway.

While we are busy with Healthcare being in the toilet, some of Manitoba’s teachers just got dealt another cock shot

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While the Conservative government in Manitoba is self destructing with a catastrophic situation in Healthcare, people dying in transport due to a lack of space in critical care and MLA’s sharing laughs in Question Period over it, public health compliance scandals, transphobic jokes and basically just a complete misfire on every fucking end of the governance spectrum that you could possibly imagine……there is still a fire simmering that we shouldn’t forget about.

The education system in this province is struggling. After years of chronic underfunding, the events of the last 15 months and the dark cloud looming that is Bill 64, the complete and utter burnout of staff, students and parents is a heavier burden that we are capable of carrying for long.

We all have our opinions on whether or not schools should be in remote learning. I personally believe that this was the right call and should have happened way earlier, despite the challenges and near impossibility of being a working parent trying to facilitate my children’s education at home even with the monumental efforts of our teachers. These past few weeks have been burdensome. Teachers feeling like they need to live up to the same standards they normally would, feeling the criticism of the chaos of last spring freshly enough to drive them to go above and beyond what seems reasonable or achievable today. Parents needing structure for their kids but struggling to keep up with all of their duties and responsibilities. Wanting desperately to throw in the fucking towel and just NOT.

These are trying times, and I will tell you from my personal experience that I am pretty much over it. The only thing keeping me from refusing to do a single thing more in terms of printing assignments and threatening the kids’ relationship with electronics FOREVER so that they do their work, and taking pictures and submitting and fighting is literally the utmost respect that I have for my fellow educators and the amount that they care about our kids and trying to give them some stability in all of this.

And that respect and knowledge about how hard teachers work has me shaking my fucking head about how underappreciated teachers are in this world.

“THOSE WHO CAN”T DO, TEACH.”

It seems to me that those who teach literally DO EVERYTHING.

And so now comes the extra what the fuckey ……

Teachers in Winnipeg School Division today finally got a contract. They have been negotiating for FOUR YEARS. They are finally getting a nominal raise that will back payed for 4 years. But there’s catch:

In order to pay teachers (almost) what they’re worth, the school division will have to cut 120 permanent full time teaching positions. Seniority will not be a factor, it will be cutthroat decisions based on how valuable you are. So teachers with highly specialized skill sets may be safe, but anyone else is fair game for a lay off.

From a teacher in WSD: “ Everyone loves us when it comes to babysitting their kids so they can go to work, but no one actually wants to pay us” (what we’re worth)

In all of this we keep referring to these people as heroes, yet we give them the choice of accepting less than they deserve for literally ever, since the beginning of time, or watch a bunch of their hardworking hero colleagues lose their jobs??

So, the next time Pallister or Cullen or any of the rest of those fucking assholes gets up and starts talking about all of the investments they are making in education, and when you all get your education tax rebate cheques, remember it is founded in bullshit and what it is at the expense of. People losing their jobs. Your children losing educational resources. Your children’s relationship with their teachers as class sizes continue to grow.

This province needs to stop congratulating itself on a job never done and top sucking their own dick in the media about how awesome they are.

If this is Team Manitoba, the stands are empty, revenue is in the red and the coach needs firing. Fuck already.

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.

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.

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