Briefs Submitted to Manitoba’s Commission on Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education


Brief 1

Date Received: 4/20/2019

Name: Michael Zwaagstra

Organization: Self

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning

Brief: The Importance of Content Knowledge

Introduction

In Manitoba schools today, content knowledge should take top priority. Not only does content knowledge provide students with the skills they need to function effectively as Canadian citizens, it is essential to the development of critical thinkers.

Content knowledge means subject-specific facts and concepts. Content knowledge in history, for example, includes dates, names, and major events while in science content knowledge includes details about how scientific laws were discovered and explanations about how they work. In math, content knowledge includes the memorization of multiplication tables and the use of standard algorithms for operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Content knowledge in English Language Arts includes the study of classical authors such as William Shakespeare along with the mastery of the conventional rules of English spelling and grammar, and the structure of persuasive and creative works. Of course, these are only representative examples. Curriculum specialists determine the grade-level where specific content should be taught and at what depth.

Why Content Knowledge Must be Central

In 1987, E. D. Hirsch, Jr., then an English professor at the University of Virginia, published a ground-breaking book entitled Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know (Hirsch, 1987). In it, Hirsch argued that schools were failing to transmit the knowledge students needed to function effectively in society. The book contained an extensive list of facts that he thought every American should know, a list that has been expanded and revised over the last thirty years (Liu, 2015). Today, his Core Knowledge Foundation (coreknowledge.org) publishes detailed curriculum standards for each subject area and grade-level that have been adopted by many schools in the United States.

Hirsch was right that content knowledge is essential—not just for Americans but for Canadians too. In fact, there are many reasons why content knowledge must be central in Manitoba schools. The following section outlines three specific reasons for the importance of content knowledge.

Reason #1 – Content Knowledge is Essential for Reading Comprehension

Reading is probably the most important skill taught in school. All students need to learn how to read and to read well—the sooner, the better. However, there is little use in being able to decode individual words if the reader cannot understand what the words mean in sentences, paragraphs, articles, and stories. This is where content knowledge comes into play. Students are most likely to comprehend what they are reading when they already know something about the topic. The more they already know, the more effectively they can read and understand.

Give students an article to read about a topic they know nothing about, and they will struggle to comprehend it. However, they will have little difficulty reading an article or book when they already possess background knowledge about the topic. Simply put, reading comprehension depends on background knowledge.

It is important to note that knowledge is highly specific. In order for students to understand an article or book about World War II, they need to know specific things about that war. It is not sufficient to have a general understanding of the concept of war or a vague notion about why conflict can lead to tragic consequences. The key to understanding an article or book about World War II is for students to have considerable prior background knowledge about that particular war. Nothing else will do.

Reading is often described by educators as a transferable skill. This is only partially true. While the ability to decode individual words is largely transferable to different texts, the same cannot be said for reading comprehension. Subject-specific background knowledge is needed to understand what you are reading. The more you already know about a topic, the more you are able to learn about it. Thus, content knowledge is essential for reading comprehension.

Reason #2 – Content Knowledge Makes Critical Thinking Possible

One of the most common objectives found in school mission statements is the development of critical thinking skills in students. Often, these skills are presented as being more important than the acquisition of specific content knowledge. As some progressive educators have put it, if students need to know specific information, they can simply look it up, usually with a quick Google search (Couros, 2017). Thus, instead of getting students to memorize isolated and outdated facts, these theorists believe it makes more sense for teachers to help students develop their critical thinking skills.

However, it is important to consider what critical thinking actually means. The Cambridge Dictionary defines critical thinking as “the process of thinking carefully about a subject or idea, without allowing feelings or opinions to affect you.” After reviewing this definition, the connection between content knowledge and critical thinking should be readily apparent. Critical thinking cannot happen in the absence of specific knowledge about the subject students are attempting to understand. As a case in point, try to think critically about this statement. “George Brown’s call for representation by population in the Province of Canada was helpful, rather than harmful, to the cause of Confederation.”

Unless readers have significant background knowledge about Canadian Confederation of 1867, it is unlikely they will be able to provide much critical thought about this statement. Careful analysis necessitates a clear understanding that representation by population was a request for all seats in the legislature to be allocated solely on the basis of population. However, that is not enough. You also need to know that Canada West, an English-speaking colony of Great Britain, was deeply frustrated that it had the same number of seats in the legislature as Canada East, a French-speaking British colony, even though Canada West had more people. In addition, critical thinking requires knowledge about the key role that Canada West legislator George Brown played in advocating for representation by population and how that issue helped convince him to join forces with his political rivals, John A. Macdonald and George-Etienne Cartier, and push for a broader political union of all the British colonies in North America. It also helps to know something about John A. Macdonald and George-Etienne Cartier and the factors that led these two men to work together with George Brown for the greater purpose of Confederation.

Without substantial background knowledge, readers will not be able to think critically about George Brown’s call for representation by population. It takes more than a quick Google search to acquire the background knowledge that is required for critical thinking about this topic. While the internet has a lot of helpful information, it also contains inaccurate facts, discredited conspiracy theories, and hopelessly biased opinions. Googling a subject about which you know nothing is often an exercise in piling ignorance on ignorance (Nichols, 2017).

This is also true in other subject areas. For example, if teachers want students to think critically about mathematics, they must make sure students know their math facts. Otherwise students will struggle with simple problems and will be unprepared for advanced problems. This is backed up by cognitive load theory, which points out that humans have only a limited amount of working memory. Once information is transferred to long-term memory using cognitive schema, it then helps organize working memory by dramatically reducing working memory load (Hattie and Yates, 2014). In short, memorization reduces cognitive load and makes critical thinking possible.

A common objection to this argument is that the widespread availability of information on the internet makes specific factual knowledge less important than knowing how to access factual knowledge on a variety of topics. However, far from acting as a knowledge equalizer, the internet actually rewards people who already possess substantial knowledge in a particular subject area. That is because experts know exactly what to look for and can use their background knowledge to quickly weed out extraneous information (Sherrington, 2017). Once again, knowledge makes the difference.

Reason #3 – Content Knowledge Empowers Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds

Far too many students come from low socioeconomic status (SES) homes where they have not had access to the content knowledge of their more affluent classmates. Often, parents barely have enough money to put food on the table, let alone spend time reading and discussing ideas with their children. Students from low SES homes rarely go on educational trips, such as to museums or libraries, with their parents or benefit from private tutoring services. As a result, they enter school at a significant disadvantage compared to their peers from higher SES homes.

This has a significant impact on students’ academic achievement. In an extensive review of the research, Erin Bumgarner and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn found “achievement scores to be particularly sensitive to poverty during the first few years of life” (Bumgarner and Brooks-Gunn, 2013, p. 92). They note that the impact on academic achievement is both distinct and measurable.

Students from disadvantaged homes typically enter school with a significant linguistic and vocabulary gap of at least several hundred words (Hoff, 2003). This gap can largely be explained by the fact that low SES parents often have limited vocabularies themselves. However, schools can compensate for this gap by ensuring that all students receive content-rich instruction from an early age. Domain immersion benefits all students, but it makes the biggest difference to students from disadvantaged backgrounds (Hirsch, 2016).

As noted earlier, content knowledge is necessary for reading comprehension. Students who acquire significant content knowledge will inevitably become better readers than those who do not acquire this knowledge. Because students from low SES homes usually gain only a limited amount of content knowledge in their home environment, schools need to make up the difference by providing this knowledge. If schools fail to provide this knowledge in an intentional and structured way, students from low SES homes will fall further and further behind their peers. They will remain weak readers and have difficulty reading even the simplest material. Their educational success will, as a result, be limited.

At a practical level, this means that schools need to be much more intentional about ensuring that all students, particularly those from low SES homes, receive content-rich instruction. Without content-rich instruction, students, particularly those from low SES homes, will be educationally impoverished. Providing all students with content-rich instruction is the key to empowering students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Conclusion - Give Knowledge Its Rightful Place

Instead of reducing or downplaying content in the curriculum, education officials, especially those who write curriculum guides, need to ensure that content in all curriculum documents and at all grade levels is substantial and logically sequential. When curriculum guides are largely devoid of specific content, it becomes tempting for teachers to simply ignore the lower objectives (knowing and comprehending) and focus on the higher objectives (critical thinking) in their classrooms. This approach to instruction makes academic success less likely, especially for lower SES students. Whether the subject is math, science, English language arts, or social studies, classrooms should be knowledge-rich environments for all students.

Content-rich instruction may not be as flashy as some alternatives, but it is a whole lot more effective.

References Bumgarner, E. and Brooks-Gunn, G. (2013) Socioeconomic Status and Student Achievement. In J. Hattie and E. Anderman (Eds.), International Guide to Student Achievement. New York, NY: Routledge.

Couros, G. (2017). Knowledge vs. Access to Knowledge. Retrieved from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/7466.

Hattie, J. and Yates, G. (2014). Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn. New York, NY: Routledge.

Hirsch, Jr., E. (1987). Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Hirsch, Jr., E. (2016). Why Knowledge Matters: Rescuing Our Children from Failed Educational Theories. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Educational Press.

Hoff, E. (2003, September October). The specificity of environmental influence: Socioeconomic status affects early vocabulary development via maternal speech. Child Development. 74(5), 1368-1378.

Liu, E. (2015, July). What every American should know: Defining cultural literacy for an increasingly diverse nation. The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/07/what-every-american-should-know/397334/

Nichols, T. (2017). The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Sherrington, T. (2017). The Learning Rainforest: Great Teaching in Real Classrooms. Suffolk, UK: John Catt Educational Limited.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: Make Manitoba a province that embraces the importance of content knowledge for all students and ensures that all students graduate as knowledgeable citizens.

Student Learning: Revise the social studies curriculum to place more emphasis on specific Canadian and world history content in the earlier grades. Be specific about the key events, dates, and individuals that must be mastered by all students

Revise the math curriculum to place a stronger emphasis on practice, memorization (particularly of times tables), and the use of standard algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Revise the English Language Arts curriculum to specify particular books, articles, and poems that all students must study at each grade level.

Teaching: Model teacher training and professional development on the research-based approach of the United Kingdom’s ResearchED. (researched.org.uk)

Accountability for Student Learning: Bring in standardized testing in the four core subject areas (Math, Science, Social Studies, ELA) at several different grade levels. These exams should be summative in nature and take place at the end of the year/semester. To ensure that required content is covered each year, make these exams content-specific and not just about generic reading and math skills.

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 2

Date Received: 4/21/2019

Name: Darja Barr

Organization: University of Manitoba

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning

Brief: In Manitoba, the Pre-Calculus stream of high school mathematics "is designed for students who intend to study calculus and related mathematics as part of post-secondary education. It builds on the topics studied in Grade 11 Pre-Calculus Mathematics and provides background knowledge and skills for the study of calculus in post-secondary". However, though our Manitoba students are coming into first year Calculus with an average grade of around 83% in Grade 12 Pre-Calculus, they are currently failing and withdrawing out of first year Calculus at rates of 50% and higher. This indicates that there is a disconnect in our Province between Pre-Calculus and Calculus. In fact, data analyses show that this disconnect is becoming more and more significant as time goes on. In the most recent year of analysis, students from one of Winnipeg's largest school divisions who entered Calculus having an A or A in Pre-Calculus, were equally as likely to fail or withdraw from Calculus as they were to earn an A or an A . Also concerning is the weak relationship between Pre-Calculus grades in high school and Calculus grades in University for Manitoba students.

Success in Pre-Calculus has been shown to be a necessary but not sufficient condition for success in Calculus. In other words, students who are successful in Calculus were successful in Pre-Calculus, but students who were not successful in Calculus have almost no correlation between their incoming Pre-Calculus grade and their Calculus grade. They were equally as likely to have entered with a C or an A. This means that students at the University of Manitoba who need extra support to succeed in Calculus can not be identified from their incoming Pre-Calculus grades. This is extremely troubling given the gateway nature of the Calculus course into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and the effect that a lack of success in Calculus can have on participation and retention in these fields, and in University as a whole.

Following the sharing of this data with the school divisions in Winnipeg, instructors from the U of M together with high school mathematics teachers and administrators from the Winnipeg School Division have been working together on a project spanning the past 2 years to identify factors contributing to the disconnect between high school Pre-Calculus and university Calculus, and brainstorming ways to ease our students' transition from one to the next. One of the main factors identified as contributing to the disconnect between Pre-Calculus and Calculus was the order and emphasis of the current Pre-Calculus curriculum. Some topics are not related to success in Calculus (such as the Binomial Theorem), and others are over emphasized (such as Transformations), while many of the skills and process that are critical for success in Calculus are found in Grade 10, 11 or earlier (such as Factoring and Algebra) and not revisited closer to the transition to Calculus. This is troubling given that fluency with these topics (Algebra) has been shown to have a great impact on readiness for Calculus.

When comparing the Pre-Calculus 40S Provincial Examination and the entrance examination for Calculus (that focuses on necessary incoming Pre-Calculus content for Calculus), the disconnect between the two is very evident. Since the Pre-Calculus Provincial Examination motivates much of the instruction in Grade 12, it is imperative that it focus on skills and processes that will prepare students for success in Calculus. This is the stated goal of the Pre-Calculus stream - to prepare students for Calculus. However, at this time, it is clear that it is not doing the job well. In summary, data analyses and consultation between University and high school mathematics teachers have identified critical improvements that need to be made to the Pre-Calculus stream in order to address the issue that our Manitoba students are having with the transition into first year Calculus. These improvements, though straightforward and simple to implement, could have significant effects on Manitoba students' success in Calculus. As more Manitoba students succeed in Calculus, we have the opportunity to become a National leader in producing STEM graduates who are capable in competing in today's technological society. (All data referred to here comes from the research of Darja Barr. This data can be shared with the committee at their request.)

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: 1. Form a committee of University Mathematics Instructors and Winnipeg High School Mathematics teachers and administrators to re-visit the order and emphasis of the topics in the Pre-Calculus stream.

2. Re-think the Pre-Calculus 40S Provincial Examination. This should be an exit examination for the whole Pre-Calculus stream (rather than just focusing on Grade 12 topics), while also reflecting readiness for Calculus.

Teaching: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 3

Date Received: 4/28/2019

Name: Craig Ritchie

Organization: Private citizen

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: As far back as 1980, when a policy analyst in the Office of the Premier, I examined the issue of k-12 education reform pertaining to governance, taxation and curriculum development. My recommendations stem from research as a policy analyst and more recent experience as Chair of Finance (2005-6) Pembina Trails School Division. Thus the issue of reforming Manitoba's education especially as it pertains to governance and taxation has been a subject for which I have studied diligently for some 30 years. I am NOT a stakeholder beholden to the existing Manitoba education system, although I do hold a Manitoba teaching certificate. Thus my recommendations are not veiled in political correctness or expediency.

1. Tax reform and labour relations: Originally, 80% of the revenue for k-12 education was to come from the province and 20% from municipalities. Now in some school divisions the province funds barely half. It is meaningless to point fingers, as successive provincial governments regardless of political stripe have off loaded education to the municipalities. Nonetheless, it is time the province bellied up to the bar, so to speak; not necessarily anywhere near 80%. Education is a provincial responsibility. Thus, I recommend the provincial government serve as direct funder for all teachers employed in Manitoba, as done with Manitoba nurses and doctors. This would result in the province directly contributing to nearer to 60% or more of the education budget, resulting in reduction of off setting property taxes. Thus, while the taxpayer would pay no less at least taxpayers would pay more through provincial rather than property taxes. Also a province wide agreement, would be in keeping with repeated recommendations by the Manitoba Teachers Society.

2. Long term vision / student learning: Public education evolved in the 20th century from a desire from communities, especially rural communities for children to become more literate. Why? Because literate children had much better opportunities for gainfull employment. While todays world is far more complicated, the rationale still should apply. Certainly a liberal arts education, for example high school improv theatre serve to make the learning environment more enjoyable, it begs the question what kind of job awaits these graduates. Where are these students headed? Who makes the curriculum ? The answer is teachers. Teachers are not the community. Teachers are experts in how to teach, but the community should decide on what is taught. In the absence of a community that sets the curriculum, teachers have filled the void. Thus, an expanded role for fewer public school trustees would be in curriculum development. Finally, the low student achievement scores in Manitoba are no doubt a reflection of geography and ethnicity, NOT poverty. Recent research in student success consistently links student success with parental attitudes. Thus, provide more opportunities for parental, hence community involvement not less. And by the way, the amalgamation of school divisions does not lower admin costs. As a matter of fact when the Fort Garry and Assiniboine school divisions were merged administrative costs increased. Why? Because the collective bargaining units were merged by legal precedence into the more generous agreement. Also, another misconception, per pupil education costs are increasing while enrolment is decreasing because education expenses are quite rigid and fixed whether 22 or 28 students in a class: a teacher is needed, the room must be cleaned, the number of special needs students remains fixed.

Thank you,

Craig Ritchie M.A. B.Ed.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: N/A

Teaching: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 4

Date Received: 4/28/2019

Name: Kevin Mark and family

Organization: Dr. Kevin Mark Dental Corp.

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision

Brief: Dear commission, My wife and I have had the great opportunity and responsibility of educating our children at home, otherwise known as homeschooling, for the past several years. Thus far, we have educated our 10 year old, 8 year old, and 6 year old. It is going remarkably well, and we are convinced that this is a method of education that a significant number of children could benefit from. Studies indicate that homeschooled children generally score higher on standardized testing than non-homeschooled children, which indicates its efficacy. Our children also are growing up to be caring, intelligent young people who are going to make a real difference in the world. We greatly appreciate the current Manitoba homeschooling system, and we urge you to not introduce any additional bureaucracy that would burden us and detract from the current successes our children have benefited from under the current system.

Thank you.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: The current system is working.

Teaching: The current system is working.

Accountability for Student Learning: The current system is working.

Governance: The current system is working.

Funding: Even though we as homeschoolers do not receive any funding, we are okay with that as long as we are allowed autonomy free of bureaucracy.

Brief 5

Date Received: 4/29/2019

Name: Tina Murphy

Organization: Homes schooling family

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: We are a homeschooling family who enjoys the freedom of being able to raise our children at home and conduct education that is appropriate for each child being able to consider their strengths and weaknesses and each child's learning capabilities. We are thankful that we can teach our children religious studies that we support. We are proud of Canada and Manitoba for instituting such freedom behaviours. We are thankful for this right to home educate our children/ students. Our family takes seriously the responsibility in being our children's educators and enjoy the task. I would suggest that most homeschooling families are well rounded and not only have healthy families but also create healthy communities, cities, provinces and even countries. We know from history that if the family unit is stable - so is the community! So we are thankful to have the opportunity to not only be healthy as a family but to reach into our communities and provinces and invest into them! Thank you for letting us voice our concerns, our thanks, and our suggestions.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: From my understanding, homeschooling is becoming even more largely considered and practised in Manitoba. I believe that this is a vital part of our nation. This will bring strength to our communities and hope for our future. I think as a society we are encouraging our families to send their children way to early to school. We are keeping them there all day and then even offer, after school programs for students. Our children see their parents for, on average 3-5 hours in the evening and maybe 1 hour in the morning. So 4 out of 14 hours (ish) our children are with their parents. Usually those hours are spent, quickly making supper, extra curricular activities and home work. I feel this is a significant reason why our families are breaking down. Why our children are searching for love and acceptance in almost all the wrong areas. My heart aches for the families of today.

Student Learning: I have 9 children and each have different skills and learning strengths and weaknesses. As their teacher, I have had to adapt our programs and ways in which we educate to suit each child. I am thankful that I can individually teach each student so that they can learn to the best of their ability. My oldest 2 children were in public school and my daughter was in a split grade 1-2 class. There were only 2 grade one students that were bumped up to the grade 2 class. Because my daughter was well behaved they chose her. However, what they didn't realize was she had dyslexia. She was unable to learn the grade 2 reading as she missed most of the grade one fundamentals! So i am thankful that in January of that year we decided to home school our family. I was able to get curriculum that suited her learning struggles and teach her the way her brain could understand. I had a nephew come live with me who had just graduated that year. He always struggled with learning and never felt smart. Within a few days I knew he had dyslexia also. It saddens me that he endured 13 years of struggling because no one ever discovered why he may be struggling. I think many children get lost in the school system.

Teaching: As teachers of our children I am thankful that I have that right. I would appreciate more teaching materials to be available. I am thankful as I stated earlier for the freedom to teach all kinds of subjects. I can cater to each child's future plans, strengths and weaknesses. I take seriously the role of being my children's educator. I study and spend much time finding ways to teach of my students so they can learn and learn well.

Accountability for Student Learning: I believe accountability for learning is vital. I have heard that in the public schools there are no failing grades given. I feel this will bring our strength as well educated citizens to a halt. Those that excel in learning want to see the grade given to them they deserve. Those that struggle to reach marks feel a sense of accomplishment when they pass. But to not grade at all or hold the students accountable for work done is a dangerous road to travel I believe. We have standards we set in our home and the student doesn't move on until they have reached that standard!

Governance: It is good to be accountable to someone in every area of our lives. So accountability is good.

Funding: As a large homeschooling family we budget $1000 per year to buy curriculum. It is very costly. I would like to see help in some way. Even a break on our taxes for receipts that bought curriculum. I believe if my children attended school in my area it would cost the government $12,000/student. If you times that by 9 (children) = $108,000/per year. If you times that by 13 years for each student its $1,404,000 that we have saved the government by homeschooling! Plus we pay school taxes that our children don't attend. So having curriculum available to homeschooling families, tax breaks etc. would be great! That being said, I would rather not have the government involved by dictating the subjects I can or cannot teach, the way in which i would have to teach and the place where i must teach...than the money they would give. So if the money came with strings attached, I would rather not take it.

Brief 6

Date Received: 4/29/2019

Name: Alain Laberge

Organization: Commission scolaire franco-manitobaine

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: PRÉAMBULE Les commissaires élus de la Division scolaire franco-manitobaine (DSFM) aimeraient remercier les représentants de la Commission portant sur la revue en éducation au Manitoba quant à la possibilité qui leur est offerte de partager avec eux non seulement tout ce qui sous-tend l’éducation en français au Manitoba, mais aussi les réussites et les défis qui occupent le quotidien de nos écoles. En tant que commissaires élus, nous avons le devoir d’être non seulement la voix des parents, mais aussi les défenseurs des élèves et de tous les acteurs qui gravitent autour de l’école. Le rôle du commissaire, pour nous tous, est bien plus que faire de la figuration. Nos gestes et nos décisions ont un impact direct sur le bien-être de l’élève et des écoles, et bien que ce rôle puisse parfois être mal compris par les gens de l’extérieur du monde de l’éducation, il n’en demeure pas moins important, et à cet égard nous demeurons convaincus que nous faisons une différence. Nous croyons que l’éducation ne peut et ne doit pas être statique et par conséquent, le travail que nous effectuons demande que nous travaillions de concert avec nos administrateurs afin qu’ensemble, nous puissions mettre tout en œuvre pour assurer la réussite de tout un chacun. Maintenant pour en revenir à la revue en éducation nous croyons que si elle est faite dans les règles de l’art, cet exercice permettra au monde de l’éducation en général, mais pour nous commissaires de la DSFM en particulier, d’obtenir de précieuses informations qui aideront à confirmer toutes initiatives entreprises jusqu’à ce jour, mais aussi de revoir certaines pratiques, ceci afin de s’assure que nous continuons d’offrir la meilleure éducation possible à nos élèves, et ainsi leur permettre de développer tous les outils nécessaires à contribuer à la société de demain.

Recommandations La CSFM a le mandat d’offrir l’éducation en français langue première partout en province. Ce mandat lui fut conféré en 1993 lorsque des parents demandèrent à la province, selon les principes de l’article 23 de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés, d’obtenir la pleine gestion et gouvernance de ses établissements et de son curriculum. La DSFM est en constante croissance depuis son ouverture en 1994 ; ceci malgré le fait qu’elle n’a pas l’équivalence en matière d’immobilisation. Notre première recommandation est que le ministère de l’Éducation respecte le droit constitutionnel des francophones d’avoir accès à des écoles là où le nombre le justifie : Transcona, Sage Creek, Portage la Prairie, Brandon, Niverville. Notre seconde recommandation est que le ministère de l’Éducation procède à l’agrandissement des écoles suivantes : Saint-Joachim, Gabrielle-Roy. Notre troisième recommandation est que le ministère de l’Éducation bâtisse pour les élèves de la DSFM, une école des métiers incluant un dortoir afin de répondre aux besoins de tous les élèves francophones qui se dirigent vers la voie des métiers. Notre quatrième recommandation est que chaque école élémentaire puisse compter sur une garderie digne de pouvoir accueillir la clientèle francophone desservie par l’école de quartier. Notre dernière recommandation est que le ministère de l’Éducation s’assure que l’éducation en français demeure une priorité et que les curricula ne seront pas des traductions. Nous demeurons à la disposition du comité si besoin d’éclaircissement.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: Pour débuter, l’école de demain jouera un rôle aussi important qu’elle aujourd’hui, mais dans un contexte tout à fait différent. L’intelligence artificielle, la robotisation, l’automatisation seront des incontournables, mais ceci dit, nous devrons toujours (et encore plus qu’aujourd’hui) continuer à développer la pensée critique, l’autonomie et tout ce qui touche les quatre savoirs (savoir cognitif, savoir-être, savoir-faire, savoir y faire). Et tout ceci s’insère dans ce que la Commission scolaire franco-manitobaine (CSFM) considère comme l’une des clés à la réussite d’une communauté scolaire : l’école communautaire citoyenne. Des écoles et des communautés qui travaillent main dans la main et qui sont inclusives et ouvertes sur le monde. L’école communautaire, par un effet de complémentarité, permet aux élèves, tout comme aux citoyens, de s’enrichir, et d’apprendre les uns des autres. L’école de demain en milieu minoritaire doit nécessairement passer par la construction identitaire de tous ses élèves, ceci dans un environnement inclusif et expérientiel permettant aux élèves de mettre en éveil les cinq sens, ce qui veut dire que les murs de classe ne doivent pas être des barrières; que les élèves ne sont pas pris dans un carcan trop rigide quant à un cursus trop souvent enchâssé dans une structure rigide. Chaque école communautaire devrait compter sur une garderie et un service de garde. Pour la communauté francophone ceci est encore plus important puisqu’il en va de la survie de la langue et de la culture d’une communauté

Student Learning: L’apprentissage des élèves doit se construire de façon longitudinale, holistique, et multicurriculaire. Celui-ci doit se faire dans un esprit ouvert, où chaque champ d’études est aussi important les uns aux autres. Trop souvent le marché du travail semble nous indiquer que sans un profil de sciences pures, les élèves ont peu de chance de réussir. Les recherches ont démontré qu’il est important que l’être humain soit exposé autant aux arts, la philosophie, les sciences sociales, l’économie et les sciences humaines qu’aux sciences pures. Autre point important, l’apprentissage des élèves est un phénomène complexe qui heureusement ne se fait pas seulement à l’école. L’apprentissage est premièrement l’affaire de la famille, puis de l’école et la communauté. Ceci est encore plus vrai en milieu minoritaire. Dans la même veine que la par et pour, la communauté francophone utilise l’expression du berceau à la berçante. Qu’est-ce que cela implique? Des parents et communautés qui se tiennent ensemble, qui peuvent compter sur un réseau de services sociaux et éducatifs en français, plus particulièrement des garderies, écoles et institutions postsecondaires en français.

Teaching: Le rôle de l’enseignant a changé au fil des années. De celui ou celle qui transmettait des connaissances à des élèves qui étaient en mode passif de réception, nous sommes maintenant dans une relation où l’élève développe des compétences avec l’aide de l’enseignant qui enseigne, aide à développer la pensée critique et guide l’élève dans son apprentissage. L’élève devient un acteur à part entière de son apprentissage et sa formation. Il ne faut pas confondre enseignant, enseignement et apprentissage. L’enseignement c’est transmettre des connaissances; l’apprentissage c’est l’acquisition de ces connaissances; l’enseignant, c’est celui ou celle qui facilite et favorise l’apprentissage des connaissances. Donc, bien que nous puissions apprendre de tout un chacun, puisque l’élève passera 13 années de sa vie à l’école, l’enseignant joue un rôle primordial dans son éducation. Sophie Doucet, chroniqueuse à la revue l’Actualité : « l’enseignant n’est pas un acteur, mais plutôt un metteur en scène ». Ce qui peut se traduire par le fait que l’enseignant doit pouvoir faire ressortir le meilleur dans chacun de ses élèves. Pour elle ou lui, le sujet ou la matière à enseigner est important, mais pas plus (ou moins) que l’élève qui doit l’apprendre. L’enseignante doit établir une relation individuelle avec chaque élève afin de le mener plus loin. Ceci nous amène à parler de l’importance accordée à la formation des enseignants, afin que celle-ci reflète les besoins des élèves du 21e et 22e siècle.

Accountability for Student Learning: La CSFM croit que chaque division scolaire est responsable de la réussite de chacun de ses élèves. Pour se faire, il faut favoriser une approche holistique où la rétroaction est au premier rang et où l’enfant peut apprendre en « faisant »; soit l’apprentissage expérientiel. Il faut revoir le système entier. Un système qui décide si oui ou non un enfant réussi à obtenir un diplôme (ou non) sur la seule base d’une accumulation de crédits, ceci dans un temps limité, ne représente plus la réalité de notre monde. En fait, ceci relève plus de l’industrialisation que de l’éducation. Que fait-on avec les élèves qui nécessitent plus de 13 années? Oui, le ministère permet aux élèves d’aller à l’école jusqu’à 21 ans, mais qui d’entre vous aimerait, à 21 ans, être dans une école où vous côtoyez des enfants de 13-14 ans? Le ministère de l’Éducation doit être en mesure de favoriser l’éducation en milieu de travail. Le ministère de l’Éducation doit être en mesure de favoriser l’éducation des adultes nouveaux arrivants, le ministère de l’Éducation doit être en mesure de faciliter la complétion du diplôme, et le ministère de l’Éducation doit revoir le concept de diplomation en accordant des diplômes techniques.   Nous devons comprendre que chaque enfant a un rythme d’apprentissage qui lui appartient et que de vouloir mettre chacun d’eux dans un même moule est carrément irréaliste. De montrer des statistiques « école », est dépassée. Il faut mettre fin à la vieille façon archaïque de récolte de données en mesurant le progrès d’un collectif au profit de mesure le progrès d’un élève par rapport à lui-même. Nous devons viser l’amélioration et la réussite de chaque élève, ceci dans un contexte d’imputabilité basée sur chaque élève.

Governance: Les parents manitobains ont la chance d’avoir une voix auprès des divisions scolaires par l’entremise des commissaires élus. Il faut être vigilant avec les grandes idées que de se débarrasser des commissaires serait une réelle économie. Pour commencer, la question du nombre de votants aux élections est trompeuse. Pourquoi les gens ne vont-ils pas voter? Les hypothèses penchent vers ceci : les élections scolaires, si tenues à un même moment que l’élection municipale, provinciale ou fédérale, montrent un taux de participation élevé. La majorité des électeurs ayant peu de problèmes avec la gestion des commissions scolaires ne ressentent pas le besoin d’aller voter puisque tout va bien. Dernier élément, le poste de commissaire scolaire est méconnu, donc les gens ne sont pas assez informés et donc ne s’impliquent pas dans le vote. Les élus de la CSFM favorisent ce que nous appelons une gouvernance par politique. La gestion par politique fait une distinction entre administration et politique. Ceci dit, le modèle CSFM va un peu plus loin que le modèle Carver et donc nous parlons ici d’une gouvernance basée sur trois paliers de décision :

  • Palier politique (CSFM, donc les élus)
  • Palier administratif (DSFM, direction générale et administrateurs)
  • Palier administration-politique (dossiers qui ont des ramifications dans les deux premiers paliers).

S’ajoute à ce mode de gouvernance, un modèle de gestion participative « locale » pour les parents des écoles. Enchâssés dans la loi scolaire, les comités scolaires jouent un rôle important quant à la participation des parents dans les décisions de dossiers majeurs.

Funding: Le financement d’une division scolaire ne devrait pas être vu comme une dépense, mais plutôt comme un investissement. Il est bien connu que l’éducation offre des avantages économiques durables sans compter qu’elle est un vecteur de retombées sociales positives : estime de soi, construction identitaire, haut taux de réussite professionnelle, etc. Les recherches récentes (https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/how-money-matters-report) démontrent qu’il est essentiel que les divisions scolaires puissent offrir à toutes les familles : une éducation de qualité, des services complémentaires appropriés autant au rural qu’en milieu urbain y incluant des services de garderie, des bâtiments sécuritaires et accessibles, et finalement des programmes d’éducation spécialisée dans toutes ses écoles. Voici quelques résultats concrets d’un financement adéquat :

  • Meilleurs résultats scolaires;
  • Plus haut taux de diplomation;
  • Un taux de risque plus faible de pauvreté à l’âge adulte. Bien entendu, le financement ne peut, à lui seul, être le seul responsable de la réussite, mais des allocations adéquates, équitables et flexibles, permettraient de mettre un terme à l’analphabétisme de la population et permettraient à tous les élèves d’avoir une chance équitable et réelle de contribuer à la société de demain.

Brief 7

Date Received: 5/2/2019

Name: Sandra Goff

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Good day, I am a mother of two children attending elementary school in a rural area of Manitoba. I have started doing some advocacy work on inclusive education over the past year and I am thrilled that this review is happening. What an excellent opportunity to adopt best practices from around the world and reimagine our education system! The driver behind my advocacy work is my son who is 8 years old and has a rare genetic disorder. This disorder has resulted in a global developmental delay, severe apraxia of speech, ataxia, and a sensory processing disorder. To put that in context, my son Liam is developmentally about 3 years old; his motor skills are similar to a 16 month old; to communicate he has only a few words and a few signs; and he has very poor self-regulation. That all sounds terrible, but Liam is a happy kid. He loves people – he remembers everyone he has ever met – and he LOVES music. He likes to play jokes and to make people laugh. This winter Liam learned to downhill ski. He likes to ride on the snowmobile and on his pony. He knows exactly what you’re saying and anyone that takes the time to listen would say that Liam communicates very effectively.

I believe that the education system has an enormous impact on society’s opinions and on society’s future. In Elementary School, kids take their teacher’s words as gospel, and as we all know, actions speak even louder than words. For this reason, it is vitally important for our society that kids like Liam are included in their schools and treated with dignity. Kids who see this happening grow into adults who have never questioned that all people have value to contribute. Unfortunately, it has been our experience that this is not the case. Our school system promotes those with the most qualifications and the most experience. This often leaves the most uneducated and unexperienced educators working with the most vulnerable kids. When people do not have adequate education and experience they feel uncomfortable; anxious; often defensive; and stressed.

All kids, and especially kids like mine, pick up on this immediately. Classmates Liam has always been in school with ask me: “why do some of the staff talk to Liam like a baby?” or “why are they scared of him?” These classmates think this is sort of funny and maybe a bit sad. The students who are in Kindergarten and Grade 1 and who don’t know Liam, think it's appropriate to talk to Liam like he’s a baby or to fear him. That’s what they’re learning from staff in the school. And that is what those kids will carry out with them into the world. As a system we are setting them up for failure. And we are continually setting Liam up for failure. When those around him are not comfortable, he is not comfortable. This leads to an increase in negative behaviours. When Liam’s educators do not have adequate training and experience those behaviours aren’t handled effectively and we get into a vicious cycle.

Liam’s day is split into 5 blocks and 5 different Educational Assistants (EAs). For many kids like Liam consistency is key. When you have 5 different educators who are not allocated any training or prep time it is unrealistic to expect: that they can all be on the exact same page; or that they can provide the exact same feedback to Liam in every different situation that might arise in Liam’s day. We also have trouble with EA turnover. As Liam is an active kid many of the senior EAs are not able to work with Liam. It has been our experience that when the caseload in the school changes or there are funding cuts Liam’s EAs are cut first. This is extremely frustrating when we finally get those working with Liam trained and on the right path. Funding cuts at the end of last school year resulted in Liam having substitute EAs for 2 of his blocks for a majority of this year. When school started this past fall the school realized only one of the EAs were physically able to work with Liam. The level of stress Liam experienced at school this year has affected his physical and mental health and he is now on anti-anxiety medication. Not exactly a desired outcome for a kid in Grade 3! This is just a short summary of our experiences and I can only speak to our experience. However, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on this and I would like the opportunity to discuss a few ideas that I believe would improve Liam’s education and hopefully education for all kids

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: We need to design the education system around the idea that children are our most precious resource. The goal is not to teach subjects and facts. The goal is to teach students how to learn and how to thrive and become citizens who contribute to the health and happiness of society.

Student Learning:

Teaching: 1. We need to make sure ALL teachers have the training to teach ALL kids. I have been told that the undergraduate education degree has limited curriculum on how to teach kids like mine. Inclusive education needs to be part of every B.Ed. course. Teachers need to be prepared to teach kids with special needs, kids who have had traumatic experiences, kids with different cultural backgrounds, etc. It is not enough to know how to teach a subject. We need to prepare teachers to teach every child how to thrive in life in their own way.

2. We need to find a way to encourage educators who have experience and a knack for different areas of student services to keep working with those that need them. Moving into Administration should not be the only way to further their careers. It is extremely frustrating to know that there are 2 people sitting in offices (in the school and local division office) who have the training and experience to work with my son, but as part of being rewarded for that they will not be the ones to work with my son, or even the ones to train those that do. Obviously, I’m not saying we shouldn’t reward competence and experience but let’s find a way to do it without negatively affecting vulnerable kids.

3. We need to work with the unions so that teachers and EAs best suited towards specific kids can stay with those kids. Assigning jobs based on seniority does not benefit our children. Ability needs to be part of the equation.

4. I believe in the research that assigning an EA does not always improve outcomes for children. However, in some instances like my son’s, a second set of hands is required to keep him safe. It is also primarily EAs who are educating my son as his learning style is so different from that of his peers. We need to look a creating different categories of EAs. If you are responsible for directing a child’s day and deciding what he will work on that day and how, you certainly deserve some training and prep time! We need to increase the training requirements to become any type of EA. Why do we think someone should be able to walk in the door and work one on one with kids without training?

Accountability for Student Learning: 5. I agree that teachers, parents, student services, etc need to understand their roles and responsibilities and be accountable for them. But we also need to look at how we are teaching our kids to be accountable. If you don’t have to do anything to pass a grade what is there to be accountable for? We need to reward effort. For example, if a student is a 60% academic student and they work really hard to become a 62% student it should warrant as much or more recognition than the 95% student who doesn’t have to try and keeps their average above 90. If we don’t teach youth to feel accountable and to recognize and validate their own self-worth when they put in effort there isn’t much hope we will be raising adults who will be accountable.

Governance: 6. I know it’s not ideal, but until we have teachers who are trained, student services people who actually have the knowledge and experience to work with students like Liam, and a system of training and empowering EAs in every school, centers of specialization could be utilized for extreme cases. I would gladly drive my son 15min to school if there was a team of educators there who could support him. There should also be opportunity to share best practices and learn from those that have that knack. Right now education staff seem very reluctant to reach outside of their schools for help or guidance.

7. In my family’s frustration over getting quality education for both my son and daughter we have often noted that the idea of human resources seems to be missing in the school. Schools have a lot of staff! In order to perform well at work, people need to feel valued and supported and to work as a team. They need to know what their roles and responsibilities are. They need to be assessed and trained, and coaching provided where gaps exist. As business owners we know that this is a huge time-consuming job. And it doesn’t have a measurable return on investment, but I don’t think you’d have to look too far to find evidence of it’s worth. Could administration teams be a mix of teachers and non-teachers who could bring administration/HR skills to the team?

Funding: 8. As we increase training requirements for EAs, wages should go hand in hand. We shouldn’t be competing with minimum wage employers for people we entrust with our children.

Brief 8

Date Received: 5/9/2019

Name: Sel Burrows

Organization: Point.Powerline

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Accountability for student learning

Brief: The Lost Children St. John’s Kelvin September 30, 2015 Enrollment 1044 1355# with 4 or more absents 115 38% Attendance 89.0% 97.2% May 30, 2016 Enrollment 1037 1349# with 4 or more absents 161 38% Attendance 84.5% 97.2% absent 15.5% 2.8% I start my submission with some startling figures. It was difficult to get hard statistics on the numbers of children who are not receiving an education due to not being present in the classroom. However by asking specific attendance numbers regarding a middle class school and a school in the inner City North End which serves the children from my area of North Point Douglas I was able to obtain the startling numbers.On the same day, only 38 kids were absent at Kelvin and 161 were absent at St John's High School.I believe that every child has a right to an education and that children who do not get an education face the high possibility of a life of poverty and dependence on Government. Because of my work experience as a senior official in the Criminal Justice system I am also very aware that children with limited education are much much more likely to be involved in crime and drug dependence.I also cringe every time Manitoba receives such a low rating in its educational results in comparison to other jurisdictions.

My wife is a retired award winning primary level teacher. Three of my G grandchildren are teachers in Thompson, Manitoba. All of my children, and grandchildren have benefited from a wonderful education from the public school system in Manitoba. I am particularly proud of my son who faced a severe learning disability but with the help of dedicated teachers achieved his Grade 12 and is now a foreman with the Manitoba Highways Department.I speak of my families experience with Manitoba's Education system to reinforce the quality of education that is available to children with involved parents who are at school to benefit from the wonderful teachers. However, the number of children who are not attending class regularly is astounding and scary. As a result of being appointed to a task Force on the issue of school absenteeism first by Education Minister Ian Wishart and now by Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen I was able to obtain more statistics. I am not skilled enough with the computer to paste these stats in my presentation, however I am sure your staff can obtain copies for you.

I think it will be impossible for the commission to make recommendations for the future of our education system without reviewing these Statistics. Some of the startling numbers. Absenteeism Statistics 2016-17 Grade 8 for all the grade 8 classes in Manitoba, 25% have more than 18.5% absencesin Frontier School Division 59% have over 18.5 absences If we want our children to have healthy productive lives, if we want our society to benefit from the contribution many of these absent children could make to our society if they had an education, then Manitoba must figure out how to have more of our children attending school regularly.If children are not in school they cannot receive the education your commission is studying.To have a successful education system it is not enough to have an exceptionally good curriculum, good physical schools, excellent teachers. Children must be in an educational setting or they do not receive the benefits of an education.

One of the advantages of being old and having a broad cross section of experiences I believe is being able to see and analyse problems from a distance. Looking at the issue of children not receiving an education I was amazed to see how the School Divisions where the problem was most acute, Winnipeg 1, Mystery Lake and Frontier School Divisions, had no active program to get these kids into the classroom. That's not to say there aren't programs on paper but looking at the statistics the problem of non attendance seems to be getting worse in these divisions rather than better. It's amazing that while we have a law and regulations that say children under the age of 18 must attend an educational program, all levels of government seem to ignore that law. I do not think hard enforcement of the law is a solution but it does raise issues of responsibility. Who is responsible for kids not attending school.There are easy facile answers. Of course the child and the parents are primarily responsible. However, looking at who the kids are that are not attending we discover other levels of responsibility because there is a recognition that the parents and children who are not attending need help.My estimate is that 95% or more of the children who are not achieving an education because of non attendance are the responsibility of a Provincial Government department.

Foster Children: Children who are clearly the wards of the province are therefore the responsibility of the province to ensure the foster children attend an educational program. There are many children who are wards who are not in an educational program. It appears that Tina Fontaine, whose life and death has been spread over our newspapers, had not attended a school program for several years. I only mention Tina Fontaine because her life has become public. There are many more wards who are not in educational programs. Youth in the Manitoba Youth Centre, Aggazziz Centre for Youth and on Probation: These are the kids we should be throwing every possible positive resource at to stop them from losing their future. An education is crucial. However, neither Youth detention centres have certified education programs with certified teachers and youth are regularly pulled out of the educational programs that exist. Youth on probation who should have the most support for attending an educational program often have no Condition of their probation requiring them to attend an educational program and they often sit at home, or in a group home not enrolled in an educational program. Families where the children are deemed to be in need of protective supervision.

These families have CFS workers, however school attendance is not set as a priority by their agency in the work that is done with the families. Many workers see the crucial importance of their client kids getting an education to escape the poverty trap and focus on helping the mom get the kids to school, but this does not happen in many cases Families on Income support: Another group of children with high absenteeism rates are children of families who are dependent on Income Support from the province. Statistically we know that a very large percentage of these families are led by single parent women where the man who fathered the children is no where to be counted on in getting the kids to school or help financially. All of these groups have large numbers of parents who do get their kids to school but the percentage that do not is very high in comparison to the general public. As we set out who is responsible for the children of our society getting an education we must not forget the government departments who have assumed some responsibility for these children.

These are big departments with substantial budgets. They must be required to provide help and support to families and children and youth who presently are not attending school regularly. I do have to recognize the actions of the Minister of Education, supported by the ministers of Families and Justice. They have responded to the strong statistics showing the number of children who are not attending school by establishing an in house Task Force, chaired by deputy ministers, to work on the issue. In spite of me being a bit overly direct at times they have chosen to include me on the task force and I have some hope that the task force will be successful.

I leave the issues of educational content and program design to others more skilled in the art of pedegogy.However, as someone with a bit of knowledgeable of the challenges families and youth face in the inner city and the north I feel comfortable in saying that if all departments, community members and parents work together it is very posible to have a substantial number of non attenders in educational programs that will help them develop into healthy, happy , productive citizens with the education and skills to contribute to our society. I am a strong believer in the powerful, positive, productive force of a good education. I believe we have the capacity to provide that education to all children A measure of the success of this commission will be their willingness to recognize that the voiceless families and children who presently are not receiving an education will require additional financial resources. If financing is finite it will probably mean that some of the good educational measures the middle class are demanding will have to wait.I challenge you to make the recommendations to Government that will result in all children in Manitoba benefiting from an education.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: 1) Government sets a goal of ensuring all children and youth attend effective educational programs and that families and children and youth facing problems in attending educational programs receive the help and inputs required.

2) A commitment to put the best and brightest to work with adequate resources immediately so the results can be seen in the not to distant long term.

Student Learning: 1) Students must be in an educational program if they are to learn.

2) Government and school divisions be held accountable to ensure all children have the opportunity to learn by being present at an educational program.

3) A wide variety of educational programs must be developed to meet the needs of those students who have difficulty attending a formal school. Assessments must be done quickly and resources transferred to the successful programs and the unsuccessful ones shut down.

4) Some programs that theoretically should work do not. Kids will vote with their feet. If the programs are dynamic and relevant that will increase attendance. However, serious problems at home will continue to be the biggest block to student learning.5) Students must be given the opportunity to learn. Providing supports in the home where parent(s) are unable or unwilling to get their kids to school must be prioritized.

Teaching: I will leave the recommendations on teaching to those more skilled in this area

Accountability for Student Learning: 1) We must face the fact that Manitoba has a large number of families that are not functioning well. It is easy to blame people for their failures. However, as we hold parents and youths accountable for ensuring the children and youth attend school regularly, we must ensure we provide the supports they need.

2) Many of these supports are needed in the home not just in the school. Supports may range from someone coming to the house at 7:30 am and helping a struggling mom get three kids ready for school or in home coaching on how to organize a difficult life to ensure kids attend.

3) Being honest that some parents are alcoholic and drug dependent and often cannot function well. Kids not attending should be seen as an immediate cry for help with resources kicking immediately. 3) A child with a history of poor attendance should have a successful home visit after two absences. The present truancy system where the truant officer leaves a card in the door if no one answers the door is a farce. Someone representing the educational system needs to figure out how to get resources to that child whether they really want the help or not. In the end it is the law that children under 18 must attend an educational program. Where there is strong resistance to positive offers of assistance firmer methods must be utilized.One we used in a very successful Youth Build program I was involved with was a staff person who was culturally appropriate would pound on the door until someone responded, often unhappy but forced to discuss the youths attendance. Normally after three very loud visits the youth began attending regularly. This program for very alienated youthended up with a better attendance rate than the school feeder school.

4) Parent, child, youth, school program, teacher, Superintendant, School Board, Minister of Education, neighbours. All are accountable at some level for all children receiving an education and all must be held appropriately accountable

Governance: 1) School boards must be prepared to replace School Superintendents who are not able to show progress in improving attendance rates. School Boards must have the resources to ensure that schools with high absenteeism rates receive additional funds for programs that encourage attendance

Funding: 1) The poorer a schools results the more funding they should receive. I will leave the more complex funding formulas to others.

Brief 9

Date Received: 5/10/2019

Name: Jim Silver

Organization: N/A; submitting as an individual

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning

Brief: Brief to the Manitoba Commission on Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education Jim Silver Many Manitobans express concern when international ratings of students’ educational achievements such as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) are released. “What is wrong with our educational system,” people ask when Manitoba is thought to rank relatively poorly. The central argument of this submission is that the issue is less “what is wrong with our educational system,” than “why do we allow such very high levels of poverty to persist,” when the evidence is so absolutely clear that poverty produces poor educational outcomes. Data assembled and analyzed by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy show definitively that high levels of poverty adversely affect educational outcomes. For example, in the highest-income quintile in Winnipeg, 98.5 percent of students graduate high school within six years of entering grade nine; in the lowest-income quintile 55.4 percent—just over half—of students graduate high school within six years of entering grade nine (Brownell et al. 2015: 44). This is consistent with the claim made by Marni Brownell and her colleagues (2006: 4) that “socioeconomic status is the single most powerful predictor of educational outcomes,” and by Gaskell and Levin (2012: 12) that “socio-economic status (SES) is the single most powerful factor correlated with educational and other life outcomes, as has been found in virtually every important study of these issues, over time, in every country where such studies have been conducted.”

This is confirmed by empirical evidence related to educational outcomes for Indigenous children. Even as early as age five, there are gaps between the educational outcomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in Manitoba, as measured by Early Development Indicator (EDI). However, these gaps “largely disappear after socioeconomic status is taken into account” (Manitoba 2019: 3). In other words, for those Indigenous children not growing up in poverty, educational outcomes are on a par with non-Indigenous children. It is poverty that is the problem. In short, when we ask why some children are not doing well in school, and why educational outcomes are lower in some schools than others, it is likely that the answer has less to do with what is happening within the walls of the schools, and more to do with the poverty and related challenges experienced by children outside the schools. Nor is poverty in Winnipeg simply an inner city phenomenon, even though that is what is commonly believed.

While it is true that poverty is highly concentrated in Winnipeg’s inner city, twice as many poor families live in the suburbs. Deep pockets of poverty are scattered throughout Winnipeg’s sprawling suburbs, often concentrated in areas where Manitoba Housing complexes are located. This is the case, for example, at three elementary schools in south St. Vital—Lavallee, Victor Mager and Victor Wyatt. At Lavallee, the poverty rate is almost double that in the inner city, and about five times the rate for the suburbs as a whole. Rates at Victor Mager and Victor Wyatt are almost as high. Two-thirds of the children who attend Victor Wyatt, and half of those at Lavallee, live in Manitoba Housing. Predictably, school outcomes in these three schools are lower than the average in the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD). But this appears to have nothing to do with what goes on within the walls of the schools.

The following is what parents told us about these schools in a report prepared for the LRSD (Silver and Sjoberg 2017):
Parents love these schools. Words like “amazing” and “exceptional” and “it’s a great school” were used by parents to describe their experience with these three schools. After one sharing circle Sjoberg described parents expressing an “overwhelming love for the school; overwhelming!” Parents and their children feel accepted and actively welcomed. Students and parents of differing cultural backgrounds are learning about each other and getting along well. A wide range of programs are run by the schools to support parents and improve children’s educational progress.

The cause of the lower-than-average educational outcomes at these three schools is not to be found in what the schools do. The problem, to reiterate, is the poverty. Poverty is more than just a shortage of income, important though that is. It can be thought of as a complex web that can trap people in a cycle from which they have difficulty extricating themselves. This was reflected in what we were told in 2017 by 36 parents at the three schools. For example, a challenge common to these families is poorly managed Manitoba Housing properties. Parents repeatedly told us about major problems with bedbugs, violence, illegal drug dealing and lack of safety. Teachers confirmed these problems and their adverse effects on children’s schooling. One teacher broke into tears when describing the impact of bedbugs on her students. Many parents also disclosed impacts of trauma including anxiety, lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, addictions and family dysfunction, including domestic violence. All of this creates conditions in which children have difficulty succeeding in school. It logically follows that improving school outcomes requires addressing the root cause of the problem, which is poverty.

The LRSD has taken seriously the causal relationship between poverty and educational outcomes, and has acted creatively and appropriately by making significant investments of money, time and effort precisely where such investment is needed to improve school outcomes—in efforts to combat the poverty that drives down educational outcomes. That they are doing so has been made necessary by the high incidence of poverty in the catchment areas of the three schools, the proven relationship between poverty and poor educational outcomes, and the lack of an adequate response to poverty by the three levels of government.

The LRSD has been forced into the situation of having to fill some of the gaps, as best they can, created by the lack of resources for those who are poor. To address the poverty at these three schools, the LRSD has promoted and supported a community development approach. The starting point has been to reach out to parents and ask them what they think is needed. We did this by organizing sharing circles with 36 parents in 2017. We also spoke with teachers, support workers and senior School Division administrators, as well as many community-based organizations that work around the three schools. What we heard led us to recommend a “whole community” approach, by which we mean that the whole community—schools, parents, community organizations—should work together to build stronger and healthier families and neighbourhoods. The premise driving this approach is that healthier families and communities will, in time, lead to improved school outcomes. Substantial gains have been made in implementing the “whole community” strategy.

What has happened at the Rene Deleurme Centre (RDC) has been particularly important. The RDC is a former school that had stood largely empty for over a decade. It is now fully populated. EDGE runs adult literacy and English as an Additional Language classes in the RDC for adult students. They had almost 400 students this past year. There is strong evidence of the success of adult education in Winnipeg, and its positive impact on children’s education. The Neighbourhood Settlement Services are co-located in the RDC, and in the past year worked with some 800 newcomers. By the Fall of 2019 there will be 100 childcare spaces in the RDC, and the childcare workers will be trained by Red River College experts in the highly effective Abecedarian approach. The co-location of these programs at RDC enables low-income parents and newcomers to participate in adult learning while their children are in childcare. The evidence is that when parents are in school and doing well, their children do better in school. A new Boys and Girls Club is located there—the first new Club in some 15 years—responding to parents’ concerns about the need for after-school activities, and the scholarly literature makes clear the positive effects of good quality after-school programming on students’ educational achievements. These co-located activities are engaging large numbers of parents in educational activities, and contributing to the building of healthier families and communities, which in turn will produce improved school outcomes for their children.

A similar approach has been taken with the promotion of Indigenous initiatives. Growing numbers of Indigenous parents are becoming engaged in a wide range of culturally-based programs at the three schools and the RDC. These parents are reclaiming their cultures and taking pride in their Indigenous identities, and are experiencing improved levels of self-confidence and self-esteem as a result. In this way families are being strengthened and a sense of community is being built. Children will do better in school as a result. Some specific programs are worth mentioning. An innovative, school-based parent-mentor initiative—modelled on a highly successful Chicago program—has been piloted over the past year with nine parents at the three schools. Interviews with these parents as part of Phase Two of our research make it clear that the parent-mentor program has produced growing levels of self-confidence, a deepened understanding and appreciation of the school system, and a resolve by these parents to build on these gains. They told us that their children are proud of what they are doing, and in most cases their children are already doing better in school.

In May, 2019, a Red Road to Healing Program began at RDC, funded by Councillor Brian Mayes. The program, developed by Shannon Buck and rooted in Indigenous cultural practices, has been successful at a number of organizations including West Central Women's Resource Centre, Ma Mawi and North Point Douglas Women's Centre. The program is being offered in direct response to high levels of trauma disclosure, and associated challenges with addictions, mental health, and behavioural issues described by parents in the 2017 report. Demand has been high. There is genuine enthusiasm for Indigenous cultural learning, healing, and self-development among the parent populations at all three schools. If results from other organizations hold for this edition of the program, we anticipate that outcomes will include a strengthened sense of self, healing, and acquired tools to support self-advocacy and ongoing personal growth, producing stronger family and community relationships. Other similar initiatives are being recommended in Phase Two of the research at these three schools. Everything described here has the effect of engaging parents in positive activities, and contributing to stronger and healthier families and communities. School outcomes will improve as a result.

There are two main problems. First, even though the costs of these various initiatives are relatively modest, such costs are largely beyond the minimal budgets available to community-based organizations, and are stretching the budget of the LRSD, particularly since such costs lie beyond what is traditionally considered to be a school division’s mandate. Second, Manitoba Housing remains a major problem.

A very high proportion of the children at these three schools live in Manitoba Housing complexes where the conditions are sufficiently disruptive that their schooling is being negatively affected. To date, Manitoba Housing has not made a contribution to the “whole community” approach, and it must if the strategy is to work. Safety and property management need to be improved, and family resource centres at two Manitoba Housing complexes need to be better resourced and aligned with the “whole community” approach. A new resource centre is needed in a third Manitoba Housing complex. Resource centres in public housing complexes located in Winnipeg have been found in previous research to be highly effective in contributing to improved safety, and to building a stronger and healthier sense of community. Manitoba Housing has a major role to play in improving educational outcomes at these three schools. The Louis Riel School Division is to be congratulated for understanding the central importance of poverty in children’s education, and for taking the lead in addressing poverty to improve school outcomes. Their highly innovative efforts are evidence of the powerful role that local, democratically elected school boards can play. But neither the LRSD nor local community organizations can do this alone.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: I recommend that:

1. Poverty be officially recognized by this government and in relevant legislation, regulations and accompanying materials, as a major--if not the major--cause of poor educational outcomes. The empirical evidence in support of doing so is overwhelming.

2. This government commit itself to taking the necessary steps to significantly reduce poverty. Doing so is essential if educational outcomes are to be improved.

3. This government support the innovative, anti-poverty efforts of democratically elected school boards as a crucial means of improving school outcomes.

4. This government commit itself, at a minimum, to the following measures, the costs of which are relatively modest. The benefits produced will re-pay the costs in the near term:

a. Significantly increase investments in adult education, especially Adult Learning Centres (ALCs) that offer the mature grade 12 and adult literacy programs that prepare learners for high school studies, and ensure that these programs are made available in low-income areas in particular. When parents are actively working to improve their education, their children do better in school. ALCs and adult literacy programs have been shown to be effective in educating adults who have grown up in poverty, yet the numbers of such programs comes nowhere close to meeting the demand and the need. Investment in such programs will produce many benefits, including improved educational outcomes for the children of those living in poverty.

b. Significantly increase investments in those community programs in low-income areas that will engage parents in such a way that families and communities are strengthened. The rationale is that stronger and healthier families and communities are necessary if children are to do better in school. Examples of such programs include, but are not at all limited to: the parent-mentor program piloted at 3 schools in the Louis Riel School Division; the Red Road to Healing program that is starting in May, 2019, at the Rene Deleurme Centre; and a wide range of programs that engage parents in Indigenous cultural awareness activities.

c. Significantly increase investments in the capacity of low-income schools to do outreach to the most marginalized families. The job of skilled outreach workers is to stabilize families; when families are stable, children do better in school. Skilled outreach workers will also, in some cases, prevent Child and Family Service apprehensions. The work of Marni Brownell (2012) at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy shows that CFS involvement has dramatically negative effects on children's school outcomes.

d. Significantly increase investments in Manitoba Housing complexes to improve safety and to build community, including investing in family centres in those complexes, on the grounds that families and communities will be strengthened and children will therefore do better in school. There is strong evidence that Manitoba Housing complexes can become good places to live if the appropriate investments are made. Among the many positive outcomes will be improved school outcomes for the many children whose low-income families live in Manitoba Housing.

Teaching: N/A

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 10

Date Received: 5/14/2019

Name: Keith Murray

Organization: N/A

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning

Brief: ***The Four Day School Week***

Our current school calendar is based more on what we have always done, rather than what is best for students. Very few students in rural Manitoba are affected by the traditional demands of agriculture cycles, yet our school year is built to accommodate the perception of labout requirements for seeding and harvest. In some areas of the Province, in particular those that are impacted by high levels of sparcity there is merit in looking at alternative schedules and models for students. My proposal is to enable local school boards to research and pilot alternative models. The Four-day Instructional Week/ Five Day Teaching Week - Students attend school for four days in a five day week. This is regardless of mandated holidays. - Teachers attend school on the Friday, this is when PD, PLC, Admininstration days, sports tournaments and staff training will all occur. - Teachers are expected to book all medical appointments and personal days on these non-instructional days. - Divisions would be able to cut busing costs and support staff costs by 20%. - Face to face time for students with their assigned teachers would actually increase, with the decrease in substitute teacher time. ***Virtual School*** In my experience with distance education in Manitoba, using a variety of platforms and delivery methods; there is a benefit to offering a full distance education experience to some students.

Again, based on my experience the success rate for students using a program based out of the Province is extremely low (75% attrition rates) and not satisfactory for students or teachers. This includes the Indepentent Study Program (ISP), Teacher Mediated Option (TMO), web based courses supported by WebCT and the long defunct Provincial broadcast system. I do believe that a Provincially supported and Divisionally managed distance education program would be supportive to the learning of some students. I would estimate that this would meet the educational needs of approximately 10% of rural high school students. Due to current funding levels and the small cohort of students in any one school division, Provincial support would be needed to make this scalable. Technology has changed, improved and reduced in cost sufficiently so that it is now feasible to offer a combination of synchonous video conferencing and asynchronous web-based supports.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: The Four-day Instructional Week/ Five Day Teaching Week will support the education of rural students while allowing them to stay in their home communities. The reducation of busing costs by 20% along with the reduced greenhouse emmisions is consistent with our Provincial goals of sustainability. In combination with the ability for students to opt into a virtual school experience, students can spend more time learning and less time riding buses.

Student Learning: The Four-day Instructional Week/ Five Day Teaching Week will increase the time our students spend with their assigned teacher. Conservatively, I would estimate that the increase in instructional time would be 15%. More time with their teacher focussing on foundational outcomes will result in improved results on all assessments. The virtual school environment is not appropriate or suitable for all high school students. For those students who do find this supports their learning style and personal situation, there is opportunity to enroll in additional speciality courses such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and other enrichment type programs

Teaching: The Four-day Instructional Week/ Five Day Teaching Week will increase the time our students spend with their assigned teacher. Conservatively, I would estimate that the increase in instructional time would be 15%. Teachers would benefit from having increased time for PD, especially when using Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: Local boards need both the autonomy to research and pilot innovative programs, but also the resources for delivery. This includes both financial support and the expertise from a fully staffed department of education.

Funding: The autonomy to make local decisions does not require additional funding from the Province. The ability to set the local levy to support local programs in critical. When additional funding is required from the Province, then those programs must cross Division boundaries.

Brief 11

Date Received: 5/14/2019

Name: Board of Trustees

Organization: Brandon School Division

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Brandon School Division's brief consists of the recommendations in each of the six areas below.

In this document Brandon School Division’s (BSD) Continuous Improvement Report (2017-2018) will be referenced repeatedly, and referred to as CI Report. This report can be accessed at:https://www.bsd.ca/Documents/2017-2018 Continuous Improvement Report (October 31, 2018).pdf

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. The focus of education should be on the individual achievement of students, as opposed to a focus on average performance of students, derived from aggregated data.

2. A growth model and growth measurement should be used to assess this goal.

All people are capable of learning, although individuals learn in different ways and at different rates.

Assessment, therefore requires Growth Measurement: i.e.
(1) measurement of growth on a student-by-student basis, comparing the achievement levels of the same student over time, taking into account a student’s initial level of proficiency and
(2) acquisition of data that follows the student, and is thus more sensitive to incremental progress. This contrasts with averaged data derived from large groups of students at one point in time.

In turn, this makes evidence-based educational programming a reality in that:

  • The growth model provides school leaders with school-specific growth data,
  • and allows School Leadership Teams and Collaborative Teacher Teams to utilize growth data as formative evidence to monitor effectiveness of actions (CI Report, p. 35)

This approach also makes it possible to consider demographic differences between school divisions, as in every case the focus is on individual growth.

  • DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE BSD:
    • 16.8% of Brandon residents live in poverty.
    • BSD has a large immigrant population; 20.8% of BSD students are EAL students (English as an Additional Language)
    • 18.1% of BSD students are self-declared indigenous students
    • Given that our demographic is different than that of other divisions, choices about educational programming must address the needs of the local community, including local labour market needs.

Student Learning: RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. Investigate whether the role of public education has been expanded beyond its capacity. Public education currently serves needs under the jurisdiction of the Departments of Education, Health, Justice, and Social Services.

2. Coordination and collaboration amongst these departments is essential to meet the needs of students. For example, currently in BSD, there are numerous students with unique and costly needs, who have been relocated to Brandon via the Department of Justice. If school divisions are going to be able to meet those needs, relocation must be accompanied by appropriate funding.

3. Is the current curriculum relevant? In addition to academics, additional areas that require attention are:

  • Essential Skills: e.g., calculating interest on debt, credit cards, writing a cheque; balancing your bank account; writing a business letter. The required skills, of course, change over time, so there must be flexibility, so that the skills, information, and topic areas remain relevant.
  • Personal Management: e.g., reliability; time management; document use (how to fill out a form, a cheque, etc.)
  • Basics of a good employee

4. As per Recommendation 62 (i) of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action: “Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.”

5. Address the achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

Indigenous Education
“Indigenous Education initiatives in the Brandon School Division are designed to provide assistance to Instructional and Support staff as they integrate Indigenous perspectives into their daily teaching activities.” (CI Report, p. 8)

“Indigenous Language courses are offered in Grades 9-12 in Cree, Dakota, Michif, and Anishinaabemowin/Ojibway. Traditional teachings, history, culture, and spirituality are essential components of each course, and are a primary basis for students to develop fluency in their language. Classes will include a variety of interactive activities, both in-class and off-site, which will focus on developing skills in reading, speaking, and writing. Students will play an active role in these activities.” (CI Report, p. 28)

Some evidence exists that we are beginning to close the achievement gap for Indigenous students, especially in literacy. For instance, the June report card data for Grade 1 through 8 students over the last 3 years shows a steady positive trend. This graph reveals that the difference (i.e., the gap) is getting smaller between the percentage of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students attaining a level 3 or 4 in each English Language Arts subject category.

Furthermore, this 10-year summary of average marks on the Grade 12 provincial ELA exam depicts a steady decrease in the difference (i.e., the gap) between the results of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous students. (CI Report, p. 27-29)

6. Consider the evidence for and against, as well as the implications of year-round education, (e.g. learning, family concerns, scheduling, capacity, collective agreement issues, etc.)

Teaching: RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. Define the role of teacher. What are the expectations? Currently, teachers are expected to teach curriculum, as well as appropriate social behaviours, monitor health issues, serve as counsellor, and a plethora of additional expectations.

2. Investigate whether too much is being downloaded on education with insufficient resources (e.g., health, justice, social services).

3. Just as students need to be engaged, teachers and school leaders also need to be engaged in their work.

i. Organizational growth mindset research is being embraced in education and industry. An organizational growth mindset is about the employees (in this case, students and staff) improving, developing skills and performing better than they did before. This embodies the Continuous Improvement Framework in the province of Manitoba.

A recent study by Canning et al (2019) found that classes taught by professors who endorse a growth mindset were associated with better educational outcomes for all students, particularly for students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. These gaps were twice as large in courses taught by faculty with a fixed mindset in comparison to courses taught by faculty with a growth mindset.

An organizational growth mindset requires habits of experimentation, focusing on progress and learning from others. This requires prioritized outcomes and weekly structured collaborative time for teachers/ leaders focused on practice and student achievement. Student achievement data needs to be directly linked to the priorities and practice. Focus on prioritized outcomes and ensuring student achievement of those prioritized outcomes leads to improvements with overall measures in literacy and numeracy.

The greatest impact on student achievement will result from building capacity of the teachers and the leaders in the system in highly strategic and focused ways.

Accountability for Student Learning: RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. The teacher workday must be defined, and collaborative teacher time built into it so that teachers can plan together on how they will teach and adapt their instruction to meet the needs of ALL learners and the outcomes that the province identifies as foundational in each curriculum and at each grade level. Schools could then align teacher work schedules to allow same grade, split grade and similar grade teachers to collaboratively work together weekly on the foundational outcomes to meet the intervention needs of ALL students.

2. Implement a Growth Model of Measurement and student assessment that focuses on individual and incremental achievement of students, as opposed to a focus on aggregated data of average performance of groups of students. This model recognizes that every child grows, while acknowledging that there are differences in learning rates across students.

The growth model compares the achievement levels of the same student over time, thereby measuring incremental progress in that student. This makes evidence-based educational programming and strategic actions to improve outcomes possible.

3. Assess the basic functional skills that a successful student requires. Currently the number of outcomes in the curricula is excessive. We need curriculum that focuses on what the foundational outcomes are so that we give these the proper time and attention, and develop the intervention supports required to deliver on these foundational outcomes.

4. To support school divisions, schools, and teachers there is a need for real time access to data. Then in the time, built into the work day, allocated to collaborative teacher teams, teachers can use the data to drive and support instructional decisions on the foundational outcomes for each student.

5. Protect instructional time.

a.) Measure the amount of lost instructional time that is taken up with tasks that are not important to learning the foundational outcomes identified in the curriculum.

b.) Student absenteeism: There is also lost instructional time when parents elect to have their child miss school for a host of reasons. This is very challenging for teachers to deliver instruction and to daily assess each student.

6. Consider the undesirable potential for identifying individuals or small groups of individuals inherent in publicly releasing student achievement data on a school-by-school basis.

Governance: RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. There is a need for coordination and collaboration amongst government departments, such as Education, Health, Justice, Social Services in providing for the needs of students.

2. In terms of governance, local MLAs should be mandated to meet with Trustees twice a year. These meetings would address: 1) the performance of the division over the past year with measurable outcomes aligned with the provincial government’s outcomes, and 2) budget. The discussion around budget would be two-way discussion. The Board should be able to justify expenditures in certain key categories of their continuous improvement efforts and be able to rationalize areas of shortfall to inform local MLAs on pressure points in the budget process as related to continuous improvement efforts. This dialogue would increase transparency and accountability.

3. Determine whether there are actually efficiencies/ savings to be had by collapsing school divisions. Consider factors such as large geographical areas, requiring increased travel time and expenses, and less direct contact with school leaders. Is there data from the last amalgamation of school divisions that was done in Manitoba that demonstrates savings?

4. Consider which governance structure best addresses consideration of, and provision for, local needs and local priorities.

These are some initiatives and successes in the Brandon School due to local voice/ governance. Local priorities vary by school division.

  • Advanced Placement (AP) Program
  • Alexander School: Arts infused curriculum
  • All day, every day Kindergarten in designated high needs schools
  • Brandon Schools Instrumental Music Association (BSIMA): a partnership between parents and BSD that makes possible affordable instrument rental to all band students.
  • Building Student Success with Indigenous Parents (BSSIP)
  • Career Education
  • Indigenous Education: For example, Indigenous Language courses are offered in Grades 9-12 in Cree, Dakota, Michif, and Anishinaabemowin/Ojibway.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Program
  • Joint meetings with BSD and City Council
  • Joint funding of school playgrounds by BSD and the City of Brandon
  • Land agreements for school sites in new developments
  • NOT EVEN ONCE (NEO): This is an anti-drug use initiative for students, put forward by Mayor Rick Chrest and City Council, funded by the City, in collaboration with BSD.
  • Neelin High School Off Campus (NHSOC): is an alternative school setting for students who are at risk of quitting their education for a variety of reasons. Students are self-directed and work at a more flexible pace.
  • Open campus for high school: The senior high schools (9-12) operate on an open boundaries concept. Students attend the high school of choice dependent on educational interests and goals.
  • School Resource Officers (SROs))
  • Vocational Programming
  • Youth Revolution Programming: YR is an initiative that creates and organizes programs, activities, and events to reduce the use of drugs and alcohol among children and youth in our community. It is a student-led, health and wellness, leadership program.
  • Community Partnerships
  • Board of Trustees Engagement Plan

5. Establish a professional regulatory body to oversee the professional behaviour of teachers. This will increase transparency and accountability.

Funding: RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. It is critical that a strong, transparent funding model that takes into account local demographics, be developed Equal is not the same as equitable. Consideration must be given to local demographic factors: e.g., geography, EAL students, Indigenous population; high needs students; differences in transportation costs, etc.

2. Regardless of who is collecting the taxes, there must be local input into distribution of dollars so that local needs are taken into account. School divisions differ from one another in many ways, and those demographic differences, and the needs arising therefrom must be factored in; for example: EAL students, indigenous students, urban/rural divisions, northern/southern divisions, etc.

3. Coordination amongst government departments is required. For example, if justice is going to send students from one division to another, send them with funding to address their educational needs.

Brief 12

Date Received: 5/17/2019

Name: Samantha Turenne

Organization: The Manitoba Teachers' Society

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning

Brief: The Manitoba Teachers’ Society is committed to working with the Government of Manitoba to ensure that all students are provided equal opportunity to reach their full potential in safe, caring and inclusive schools.

We have identified eight topic areas where improvements would benefit the overall public school system:

1. Poverty;

2. Class size and composition;

3. Curriculum and assessment;

4. Improved access to clinicians and student support services;

5. Development of teaching and leadership standards;

6. Professional learning and development for teachers;

7. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action #62 and #63; and

8. French-language education.

POVERTY
There is a strong link between poverty and reduced educational outcomes. According to Manitoba teachers, the number of children coming to school hungry is increasing.

Research shows that hungry children have lower math scores, are more likely to repeat a grade, come to school late, or miss it entirely due to illness.

On the other hand, proper nutrition supports learning and is linked to higher educational outcomes.

Access to transportation is a barrier to education faced by many children living in poverty. Students who are unable to walk to school due to distance, weather conditions or safety concerns, can have a difficult time getting there. For many low-income parents, dropping kids off at school in a car is not an option, and at $70.10 for a monthly youth bus pass, the cost of public transit is unaffordable.

Getting a child into a classroom and feeding him/her is simply not enough. To best serve the students of this province, now and into the future, we must first acknowledge the far-reaching effects of poverty and fully understand the issues of inequality and poverty in our school systems. Only then can we create educational policies that provide equitable opportunities for all students.

RECOMMENDATION 1
That the Government of Manitoba establish a universal meal program for all school-age children. The program must be available for any school-age student at no cost to the student regardless of perceived need.

RECOMMENDATION 2
That the Government of Manitoba work with the City of Winnipeg, other municipal governments in the province and any other applicable parties in establishing a pilot project offering bus tokens to students, so that paying the fare for public transportation is not a barrier to accessing education.

RECOMMENDATION 3
That the Government of Manitoba establish a task force to focus on how socio-economic conditions affect access to education, with a mandate to improve access for the province’s most vulnerable students within an appropriate and reasonable timeframe. The Society should be part of this task force.

CLASS SIZECLASS SIZE AND COMPOSITION
The universal cap on classroom size served as an equalizer because it guaranteed individualized attention for all students, regardless of where they went to school. Unfortunately, the provincial government abandoned the SCI in 2017, far too early to see results especially since the program was never fully implemented.

A full school year has passed since the removal of the cap on classroom size, and according to a recent poll, conducted by Viewpoints Research on behalf of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, teachers and students are feeling the impact. According to the poll, 84 per cent of K-3 public school teachers agreed that the removal of the cap has had a negative impact on their ability to provide individualized attention to students. Three in four agreed that their ability to perform their job as effectively as they would like is being compromised.

In order to enhance quality and equity in our public schools, class size must be addressed along with class composition, as they are directly related. A class of 29 students, comprised of three with special needs and one non-English/non-French speaker, requires a different teaching strategy than a class with 26 students of which five students have special needs.

RECOMMENDATION 4
That the Government of Manitoba reinstate the cap on class size for Kindergarten to Grade 3 to help ensure that teachers are able to give students the individualized attention they need to improve educational outcomes.

RECOMMENDATION 5
That class composition i.e. students with exceptionalities (defined as those students identified as having behavioural problems or mental or physical disabilities, as well as other special needs students including gifted students), English and French as an additional language learners (defined as students whose first language differs from the school’s primary language of instruction, and who may require focused educational supports to assist them in attaining proficiency in that language) be taken into account when determining class size.

CURRICULUM AND ASSESSMENT
The most reputable gauge of individual student performance is the professional judgement of the classroom teacher. Teachers utilize a balanced approach to student assessment through a variety of classroom-based methods, allowing them to pinpoint the individual needs of students and apply corrective measures in the classroom.

Conversely, provincial assessments are limited as they provide a snapshot of student achievement. Provincial assessments should be used solely to ensure that system wide changes are adequately funded and supportive of effective pedagogy.

It is also important that students have access to innovative, up-to-date curriculum based on evidence, peer-reviewed research and effective pedagogical practices, reflective of today’s world and the context and population of Manitoba.

RECOMMENDATION 6
That the Government of Manitoba review and update any K-12 curriculum that is older than seven years. Further, that any new curriculum include representative teacher participation in the development process, be based on a clear multi-year curriculum development implementation plan and be sustainably funded.

RECOMMENDATION 7
That the Government of Manitoba support classroom-based formative assessments that align with existing and new curriculum. Further, that the results of any provincial assessments should be used to access/determine if more resources are needed in certain jurisdictions. Reporting of common provincial assessments and data should be limited to providing a provincial, not an individual school or divisional, snapshot of how the system is performing.

IMPROVED ACCESS TO CLINICIANS AND STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES
Studies have shown that early assessment of learning disabilities improves performance and education outcomes, by addressing learning difficulties before they become entrenched and lead to other issues such as behavioural and emotional problems.

Unfortunately, the wait time for these assessments can take well over a year.

Once needs are identified, due to a lack of school-based resources, students continue to wait to access special-needs programming.

In the north, it is not uncommon to have one psychologist service all the schools, resulting in wait times of three months to a year, between visits, depending on the type of service required.

There’s an important link between mental health and well-being, and student learning and academic performance. Meldrum et al. (2009) note that mental disorders can affect a student’s emotional well-being (impeding social development which can leave youth feeling socially isolated, stigmatized, unhappy), ability to learn (for example in the case of ADHD), and can be a factor in why some students drop out of school.

RECOMMENDATION 8
That the Government of Manitoba make a firm commitment to reducing wait time for assessing students with learning disabilities, so that those who qualify for a special education designation receive early intervention and the necessary supports, regardless of where in the province the student is attending school.

RECOMMENDATION 9
That the Government of Manitoba develop a comprehensive mental health curriculum for K-12 students, promote mental wellness and help reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. Further, that the Government of Manitoba ensure that mental health services are readily accessible in schools and increase the number of school counsellors and other specialist support teachers to address students’ mental health needs where necessary.

RECOMMENDATION 10
That the Government of Manitoba ensure that students requiring clinician resources, such as psychology, social work, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, audiology, speech and language pathology, etc. are given access in a manner that is timely, efficient and effective.

DEVELOPMENT OF TEACHING AND LEADERSHIP STANDARDS
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society has a Code of Professional Practice and a review process that governs teacher ethics, however there is no uniform set of standards to help guide the expectations for educators.

Standards also play a key role in guiding the development of individual growth plans, supervision and evaluation policies, and support the review and evaluation of educators whose competency is in question.

RECOMMENDATION 11
That the Government of Manitoba work with The Manitoba Teachers’ Society to develop uniform teaching and leadership standards for the profession.

PROFESSIONAL LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT FOR TEACHERS
Teachers look to professional development and learning to give them the tools needed to best respond to the needs of their students. Professional development and learning opportunities must be available in English and French to ensure that all teachers can access opportunities that are reflective of their classrooms. .

RECOMMENDATION 12
That the Government of Manitoba and school divisions work together to review funding for professional learning and development (PLD) for teachers to ensure that PLD is adequately funded by Manitoba Education and Training so that teachers have ongoing opportunities to increase skills for their work in complex and diverse classrooms.

RECOMMENDATION 13
That the Government of Manitoba, The Manitoba Teachers’ Society and school divisions work together to facilitate appropriate professional development opportunities, accessible to all teachers and reflective of complex and diverse classrooms. Further, that the Government of Manitoba and school divisions work together to ensure that teachers are given more autonomy to choose professional development opportunities that are reflective of their specific classroom needs.

IMPLEMENTING THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION'S CALLS TO ACTION #62 AND #63
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society and the Government of Manitoba should maintain and strengthen our partnerships in Indigenous education, to ensure the success of all students.

RECOMMENDATION 14
That the Government of Manitoba maintain an annual commitment to Indigenous education issues as set out in #62 and #63 of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Indigenous peoples, and The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, to:

1. Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Indigenous peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada relevant to the local community and Nations involved.

2. Provide the necessary funding to schools for the use of certified teachers, acting in the capacity of Indigenous education consultants, and the use of Elders to utilize Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in classrooms.

3. Increase support to Indigenous parents and caregivers to better engage families at the school level.

4. Build teacher-student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect, using anti-racism curriculum and teaching resources developed by Manitoba Education and Training.

5. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.

6. Establish senior-level positions in government at the assistant deputy minister level or higher dedicated to Indigenous content and Indigenous student achievement.

7. Provide time for teacher professional development that promotes reconciliation.

FRENCH-LANGUAGE EDUCATION
French-language education is the fastest growing segment of public education in Manitoba. But, while French Immersion Program enrollments are growing at a rate greater than that of the overall K to 12 public school population, it is losing nearly half of its Kindergarten students by the time they reach Grade 12, suggesting a retention problem with French Immersion enrollments. (French Language Education Review 2015-2016)

RECOMMENDATION 15 That the Government of Manitoba, the Bureau de l’éducation française, and all other applicable parties work together to develop a strategy for recruiting and retaining French-language teachers. Further, that the Government of Manitoba make a commitment to increase bilingual staff in all positions in French Immersion schools.

RECOMMENDATION 16 That the Government of Manitoba, the Bureau de l’éducation française, and all other applicable parties work together to ensure that students enrolled in French Immersion programs are being given the supports they need to succeed, graduating with bilingual capabilities.

RECOMMENDATION 17 That the Government of Manitoba and the Bureau de l’éducation française ensure that the curricula for the immersion and francophone programs are created in French (not translated) in order to integrate linguistic and cultural differences and to respond to the needs of the community.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: 1. That the Government of Manitoba establish a universal meal program for all school-age children. The program must be available for any school-age student at no cost to the student regardless of perceived need.

2. That the Government of Manitoba work with the City of Winnipeg, other municipal governments in the province and any other applicable parties in establishing a pilot project offering bus tokens to students, so that paying the fare for public transportation is not a barrier to accessing education.

3. That the Government of Manitoba establish a task force to focus on how socio-economic conditions affect access to education, with a mandate to improve access for the province’s most vulnerable students within an appropriate and reasonable time frame. The Society should be part of this task force.

4. That the Government of Manitoba reinstate the cap on class size for Kindergarten to Grade 3 to help ensure that teachers are able to give students the individualized attention they need to improve educational outcomes.

5. That class composition i.e. students with exceptionalities (defined as those students identified as having behavioural problems or mental or physical disabilities, as well as other special needs students including gifted students), English and French as an additional language learners (defined as students whose first language differs from the school’s primary language of instruction, and who may require focused educational supports to assist them in attaining proficiency in that language) be taken into account when determining class size.

6. That the Government of Manitoba make a firm commitment to reducing the wait time for assessing students with learning disabilities, so that those who qualify for a special education designation receive early intervention and the necessary supports, regardless of where in the province the student is attending school.

7. That the Government of Manitoba develop a comprehensive mental health curriculum for K-12 students, promote mental wellness and help reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. Further, that the Government of Manitoba ensure that mental health services are readily accessible in schools and increase the number of school counsellors and other specialist support teachers to address students’ mental health issues where necessary.

8. That the Government of Manitoba ensure that students requiring clinician resources, such as psychology, social work,physiotherapy, occupational therapy, audiology, speech and language pathology, etc. are given access in a manner that is timely, efficient and effective.

Teaching: 1. That the Government of Manitoba review and update any K-12 curriculum that is older than seven years. Further, that any new curriculum include representative teacher participation in the development process, be based on a clear multi-year curriculum development implementation plan and be sustainably funded.

2. That the Government of Manitoba and school divisions work together to review funding for professional learning and development (PLD) for teachers to ensure that PLD is adequately funded by Manitoba Education and Training so that teachers have ongoing opportunities to increase skills for their work in complex and diverse classrooms.

3. That the Government of Manitoba, The Manitoba Teachers’ Society and school divisions work together to facilitate appropriate professional development opportunities, which is accessible to all teachers and reflective of complex and diverse classrooms. Further, that the Government of Manitoba and school divisions work together to ensure that teachers are given more autonomy to choose professional development opportunities that are reflective of their specific classroom needs.

4. That the Government of Manitoba maintain an annual commitment to Indigenous education as reflected in #62 and #63 of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Indigenous peoples, and The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, to:

i. Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Indigenous peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada relevant to the local community and Nations involved.

ii. Provide the necessary funding to schools for the use of certified teachers, acting in the capacity of Indigenous education consultants, and the use of Elders to utilize Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in classrooms.

iii. Increase support to Indigenous parents and caregivers to better engage families at the school level.

iv. Build teacher-student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect, using antiracism curriculum and teaching resources developed by Manitoba Education and Training.

v. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.

vi. Establish senior-level positions in government at the assistant deputy minister level or higher dedicated to Indigenous content and Indigenous student achievement.

vii. Provide time for teacher professional development that promotes reconciliation.

5.That the Government of Manitoba, the Bureau de l’éducation française, and all other stakeholders work together to develop a strategy for recruiting and retaining French-language teachers. Further, that the Government of Manitoba make a commitment to increase bilingual staff in all positions in French Immersion schools.

6.That the Government of Manitoba, the Bureau de l’éducation française, and all other applicable parties work together to ensure that students enrolled in French Immersion programs are being given the supports they need to succeed, graduating with bi-lingual capabilities.

7.That the Government of Manitoba and the Bureau de l’éducation française ensure that the curricula for the Immersion and Francophone programs are created in French (not translated) in order to integrate linguistic and cultural differences and to respond to the needs of the community.

Accountability for Student Learning: 1.That the Government of Manitoba support classroom-based formative assessments that align with existing and new curriculum. Further, that the results of any provincial assessments be used to access/determine if more resources are needed in certain jurisdictions. Reporting of common provincial assessments and data should be limited to providing a provincial, not an individual school or divisional, snapshot of how the system is performing.

2.That the Government of Manitoba work with The Manitoba Teachers’ Society to develop uniform teaching and leadership standards for the profession.

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 13

Date Received: 5/24/2019

Name: Colleen Carswell

Organization: River East Transcona School Division

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: We respectfully submit this brief for your consideration and request an opportunity to present before the commission.

River East Transcona School Division has 16,500 students in 42 schools with 3,000 dedicated and hardworking staff members, with a rapidly growing community.

We are a dynamic, caring and innovative school division where our teachers and staff provide students with the education, guidance and services they need to learn and reach their fullest potential.

But what makes us unique? As the second largest school division in the province we have the lowest cost per pupil in the urban area, while still being a leader in education. We balance each and every day with what we need to educate our children and what our taxpayers can afford in our community.

Unique, yes but isn’t that the role of a school board. Without us, the Board of Trustees, who then is accountable to the students and to the community?

Colleen Carswell
Chair River
East Transcona School Division

When we discuss the need for a long-term vision for public education the discussion generally brings into public discourse the changing world of work, the shifting of skills necessary for positive engagement in society and naturally, the advancement of technology. The reality is discussion for a long-term vision and changes to the K-12 system must originate from the premise of what is the purpose of public education. This question is simple and yet, has not been adequately addressed by governments to date. The proclivity has been an overemphasis on the reading, writing, arithmetic, which yes, are important and necessary to teach our children but misses the mark on what is the purpose of public education. It is our position that public education is a public good. It is collectively beneficial to all citizens of Manitoba and Canada to have a strong, quality public education system. A system that is not only preparing our children with the necessary skills, training and educational foundation to become engaged citizens capable of making informed decisions, it is also to create lifelong learners capable of critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will arm them with the necessary baseline skills to adapt and change to the world around us.

It is the interpersonal relationships fostered through a responsive, locally minded education system that aides in the success of all our students. The goal should not be just ensuring our children can become employable, but it should be what kind of citizens are we producing through our education system. How are we ensuring the entire educational community is engaged in the education system and process? An education system that considers an intersectional approach to the social determinants of student success must be used when considering the pathway for success. It is often forgotten that not only does the education system provide the core skills for being productive and self-sufficient persons, but the education system is often the first line of defense to address a continuing inequality that our students face. Students from lower socio-economic backgrounds need an educational community that is caring, responsive and proactive. It is students from marginalized communities that struggle to succeed in the classroom and it is necessary for the education system to consider this reality. Teachers, staff and trustees become positive primary agents of socialization for students and we must not lose sight of this in our quest for change. The relationships and personal connections that can only be fostered through a system that considers the whole child and the importance of a holistically considerate educational approach is of utmost importance. We must ensure our children understand their self-worth is not all about ‘making the grade’ but to be empathetic, considerate and engaged citizens. It is the social bonds that are fostered through the entire educational community that ensures we are not only preparing our students for a successful future, but we are providing them the lifeline to press on in the face of adversity, the lifeline that they are valued and they themselves provide value. Education is the great equalizer in society and if we lose sight of the importance of human connection in this equation it will be to our peril.

Student Learning
This is a moving target, dynamic and individualized for every child, affected by gender, where they live, socio economics, poverty, race, newcomer status, parental engagement , etc. These conditions and outcomes have also changed and evolved over time. What we needed from our education to be successful after graduation is much different than what our children and grandchildren need today, and this will be different for their children and grandchildren.

School structures and processes play another large role in student success when you factor in the role of the teachers and school staff as well as the learning environment. The previous 20K3 initiative was altered to the current funding model, shifting the same funds to support early years literacy and numeracy. This gives schools and divisions the ability to assess the needs of their students creating classroom learning environments with appropriate numbers and supports based on that specific class profile. We must retain the funding and flexibility in program delivery.

Teaching practice is evolving, teachers are less of the givers of knowledge and more facilitators of learning. Learning needs to be more engaging for students, authentic and real. Inquiry based learning stimulates curiosity in learners, fosters questioning to solve issues and address challenges, local and global. For example, the current move to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) learning in senior years schools brings the authentic, inquiry based focus on real life issues that will increase engagement in youth and enhance partnerships with business and post secondary institutions. This type of programming requires a shift in teaching practice but will increase student engagement, foster creativity, enhance collaborative skills and innovative thinking which better prepares students and close achievement gaps and increase graduation rates. At the same time, it is imperative to review teacher preparation models to support integrating curricula and being more responsive to individual learning styles as a one size does not fit all. The measurement of student learning and success is multifaceted and cannot be driven by one aspect such as international or national standards testing. Tests are only a snapshot assessing a random group of students at a specific grade, at a specific time. They are not a true indicator of overall success. Assessment needs to be robust and comprehensive,the responsibility of all teachers. Canada ranks in the top countries in the world for education systems with 8 out of 10 students in Manitoba achieving at or above the average scores. Manitoba’s scores are showing improvement each year. In the Early Childhood report on Numeracy and Literacy by Dr. Rob Santos, when socio economic factors considered Manitoba’s scores move up from 9th to 2nd in the country. Considering this information, we must engage in poverty reduction to support children , to improve student achievement and close learning gaps.

Lastly, we feel it is extremely important to foster positive relationships to build strong teams and safe environments for getting along and working with others. Relationships between students, staff and parents as well as the greater community teach children responsibility and hope, leading to their individual and group success. We need to create the thinkers, decision makers, cooperative, collaborative and respectful citizens. These relationships flourish better in smaller workable environments but get lost if the environment gets too large. School divisions where students, staff, administration and parents know each other, understand each other and respond to each other’s needs are potentially more productive and responsive to individual needs. The ability to connect with a student can aide in providing the necessary social support to educational success, at times in spite of their personal family situations. When a child receives an education while connected to their educational community they are more likely to succeed in life. With greater student success and investment in the well-being of our students they are less likely to end up in the justice system or be dependent on the welfare state.

The accountability for how much is learned is ultimately that of the student. The school system and classroom teacher are responsible for creating an environment that is safe, engaging, and encourages learning. An environment where relevant and stimulating curricula is delivered and utilizes assessment strategies that are diagnostic in nature and designed to promote student growth.

Teachers and schools are accountable for the learning environment and all that it entails. School and divisional administrators are accountable for ensuring that such learning environments exist in their schools and take the necessary steps required to do so when environments are deficient. Parents play a critical role in the course of a student’s public school experience. In partnership with the school, parents can assist their child in ensuring that learning is taking place. Accountability for student learning cannot be boiled down to a snap shot in time as revealed by a single test score.

Governance
In 2002 River East Transcona School Division was formed by the merging of 1 ½ school divisions. This experience was relatively unique in our province as most often two whole divisions were combined. From our experiences we believe that we can offer some insights consistent with others, but also unique from merging with a divided division.

It is claimed the problem to be solved is better use of financial resources. This was not our experience. Prior to the amalgamation administration, costs in both divisions were lower than in other divisions both larger and smaller and remain so today. Potential saving suggested from larger tenders did not materialize because many divisions already partnered together on tenders. Yet there were substantial increases to costs that did not improve student learning. The cost of harmonizing collective agreement, harmonizing the delivery of programs and services and other one-time expense was in the millions of dollars. Ultimately more money was spent because of amalgamation and student outcomes did not improve. It is claimed the problem to be solved is improved options for students. After 17 years, there are no new options available to students today than would have been available if amalgamation had not occurred. The implication of more student choice from a bigger division did not hold true given the existing practice of schools of choice. Program size remains basically the same after almost two decades driven by facility limitations and resources.

It is claimed the problem to be solved is improved student learning. Experience has shown that to harmonize policy and practices is not an easy task and requires and requires several years to accomplish. This translates into little to no opportunity for program enhancements or new initiatives to improve student learning during that time frame. Improvements that may occur cannot be definitively credited to the amalgamation process.

A problem rarely referenced is the culture that is created by uncertainty. How an employee’s teaching role and resources that can be accessed are in flux for years. Such uncertainty does not embolden staff, but rather curtails job performance, because of a feeling of pending transition that may make today’s plans obsolete at any time. This feeling also curtails meaningful and sustained relationship among all staff and families. Unintended outcomes, like schools competing with one another, run counter to the collaborative instructional effort that is prevalent today.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: It is recommended that the public education system in Manitoba continue to emphasize the human aspects of the teaching, learning and social development . Human connections and social bonds are critical characteristics of a viable, futuristic system that develops engaged, productive citizens that transcends the limitations imposed by poverty and social inequality.

Student Learning: It is recommended that a proactive approach be implemented utilizing early intervention practices designed to reduce student learning gaps. In order to improve learning, we must ensure that all public service agencies are working together toward that shared goal.

Teaching: Professional development and enhanced teaching practices can be effectively nurtured when teachers collaborate in attaining instructional practice, assessment, inclusionary, engaging and effective strategies. Professional practice needs to move toward an interdisciplinary team approach for student instruction. Collaborative teams of teachers learning along side and from each other in a professional learning partnership structure will enhance the teaching practice of all and positively impact the success of all learners. It is recommended that teacher training programs be examined. Specifically, to ensure that faculties of education, in conjunction with schools, place teacher candidates in practicum environments that exemplify best practices in teaching. And, it is further recommended that members of the Commission experience the current state of teaching first hand by visiting classroom environments and speaking with the staff and students. River East Transcona School Division would be pleased to organize and host such classroom visitations for Commission members.

Accountability for Student Learning: It is recommended that Manitoba Education and Training refrain from the use of standardized test measures as the sole tool to determine accountability of student success and learning. A more comprehensive, authentic assessment practice needs to be incorporated as a full measure of student learning.

Governance: It is recommended that the unintended consequences of school division amalgamations be carefully examined in light of the negative impacts it will have on student learning and budgets.

Funding: As the education system is mandated to take on additional responsibilities once under the umbrella of social services, justice and health, education costs have naturally become greater. Unfortunately, necessary funding for the additional responsibilities schools now manage, has not kept step with the additional costs. It is understood and appreciated that there is an inherent inequity across school divisions, both rural and urban. Many school divisions are disadvantaged simply due to the fact that their geographic boundary does not include a substantial commercial tax base. The cost of education in such divisions places a heavier burden on the private home owner. As such, disadvantaged divisions attempt to make due with a reduced dollar per student expenditure. This results in reduced programming and levels of services available to students and families. On the other hand, school divisions with extensive commercial property tax base can enjoy providing enhanced services and programs, have a higher cost per pupil figure and spare the local home owner’s tax burden. As a public education system, one would think that the opportunities and services for students across the system would be more equitable: the system would be more of a level playing field. That truly is not the case. It is recommended that the Province of Manitoba collect the school taxes assessed on commercial properties province-wide. Funds collected through this manner would be proportionately distributed to divisions across the province on a “per capita” basis. (Specifics regarding funding disbursement would need to address once a new public school funding formula is developed.) Local school boards would retain the authority to tax residential properties.

Brief 14

Date Received: 5/26/2019

Name: Lord Selkirk School Division

Organization: Lord Selkirk School Division

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Lord Selkirk School Division consists of 9 elementary schools, 3 junior high/middle years schools, 1 K – 9 school, a Hutterian school, an offsite campus and 1 high school. We serve >4,000 students and their families. Our division is large enough to have a wide range of opportunities for our diverse student body but we are small enough to be able to build relationships with our students, their families, our staff, Senior Administration and the Board of Trustees. We see this is a strength as the province moves ahead with its K – 12 Education Review. Minister of Education, Kelvin Goertzen indicated that there were programs in the province being funded that weren’t important, but did not identify what was “important”: is a community track or pool important? Is the Ukrainian Bilingual Program? Are Vocational Or the Performing Arts? Is learning about sustainability through hands-on inquiry-based learning in an outdoor classroom? As locally elected trustees, we are able to identify and support the programs that ARE important to our communities and that make local schools a vital part of them.

We uphold the values of critical thinking, active listening, being open-minded and objective, and continuous improvement. And we trust that these are the principles that will be used in the K – 12 Education Review.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: In LSSD, all students participate in the grade 3, grade 7 and 8, grade 12 provincial exams. In other divisions and other provinces, students are selected to participate, but all our students are involved, so the comparison is not accurate. In our division, we use best-practices to teach AND to evaluate student learning: through Universal Design for Learning, we use a variety of instruction modalities and diverse tools and strategies to determine if students understand what has been taught. This happens throughout the year, not just in one moment in time. While we appreciate that there needs to be some measure, the present assessment measures only one moment in time and only what they have learned up to that point, not the end of the academic year. Our Early Years schools have implemented the Balanced School day schedule that provided 3 x 100 minute instructional time slots and 2 nutrition and movement breaks that enables children to be healthier, more active and ready to learn throughout the course of the whole school day. This translates to increased engagement and consequently, better outcomes.

Teaching: Diversity in schools is very real and a “one size fits all” approach does not take this into account. Equity is one of the areas that the K – 12 Review will focus on. But equity does not mean equal which is why the Board of Trustees has fulltime Kindergarten in 3 of our most needy schools as identified through the EDI (Early Development Indices which assess children’s readiness to start school from a language, social-emotional, motor and self-help skills perspective). The province only covers the cost of half-time Kindergarten, and we cover the other half because this is helping to promote student success by equipping children who may be starting school without the skills they need. Through the use of diverse classroom structure, student seating and groupings, teachers in LSSD are able to set up effective learning communities that are meeting learning objectives through differentiated instruction. As the board of trustees, we recognize the value of music and Band programs that promote team work, collaboration, creativity, discipline, organization and confidence, all of which future employers are looking for in prospective employees. We support athletic and arts programs that nurture the heart and mind. We support technical and vocational programs to help prepare students for the workforce. We support language and cultural programs that allow our students to celebrate differences and in so doing, foster understanding, respect and tolerance of individuals who are different from them.

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: We have the ability to do this through having “local voices” making “local choices”. School trustees are elected by their local constituents to represent them in decisions affecting their community schools. We are invested in education because our children, in some cases, grandchildren, our neighbors’ and our friend’s children are the ones we are making decisions for. This is grassroots democracy that is the fabric of our province and our nation. If school boards are eliminated the formal mechanisms for feedback would also be eliminated and parents and caregivers would loose access to the information they need to ensure that the needs of their children are being met and to ensure their children are being supported when challenges arise. Community outreach and community engagement is better fostered by school board members who are part of the community they represent, as they are more accessible to the community than centralized government.

Schools belong to communities, and the schools of our division are used by countless clubs and organizations that otherwise would not have space to run their programs. This partnership with our community is a tangible connection between our schools and the communities they serve.

All of these are examples of what is available in the community schools of LSSD as a result of the advocacy of local trustees. If decisions about what happens at Walter Whyte or William S Paterson, Happy Thought and East Selkirk Middle School, Robert Smith, Ruth Hooker or the Comp are made on Broadway by politicians who have no knowledge of the culture, priorities and day to day challenges that these learning communities experience, how likely are they to meet the unique needs and support the programs and services that our students need to be successful? Studies have shown that reduction of school divisions through amalgamation have not resulted in real cost savings or a reduction in bureaucracy. In communities where school boards have been eliminated and replaced with appointed officials or school advisory councils there has been a loss of accountability and transparency as officials and members of these councils have not been democratically elected. Decisions considering education still have to be made and decentralization results in broad policies that attempt to apply a one-size-fits all approach that does not meet the unique needs of the local community. If school divisions become larger decisions that are made regarding education will move further from communities and centralization will serve to undermine local choices and community voice will be diminished. School boards, along with their municipal government counterparts are closer to their constituents than provincial and federal levels of government. If school boards are eliminated and replaced, Manitobans will be placed in situations where they must fight for the vital right to be democratically involved in public education through their elected representatives. School boards provide their communities with local voices and local choices so that they get the educational system that they need and deserve.

Funding: The cost is of locally elected trustees is approximately $ 0.005/dollar spent on education. As a school board, we are always looking for efficiencies: in operations, time management, processes, use of space and pedagogy. LSSD has received 2% less funding for the third time in four years, which translates into more than half a million dollars in this year alone. Some programs/initiatives are mandated by the province with little or no funds to pay for them – eg 20 K- 3, accessibility of our buildings to comply with the Accessibility Act of Manitoba. With less funding coming from the province, local funding has increased. And so our challenge is to provide quality programs and supports for our students while being fiscally responsible and accountable to our constituents. Without the tax incentive grant, we would be looking at cutting programs and possibly school closures.

Amalgamation, as we learned in 2002, did NOT save money: we urge the Commission to learn from the past and put funds into the classroom rather than the beaurocracy.

Brief 15

Date Received: 5/26/2019

Name: Lena Kublick

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: In rural Manitoba, schools are often the hub of the community: local access to education for their children, an employer, a centre for community gatherings. Having a school in their community is the reason some families stay, and without which, some communities would fail to exist. School boards represent these schools and communities.

School trustees live in the communities where they serve. They are parents, grandparents, neighbors, aunts and uncles of students in our schools. They understand the growing complexities of not only the needs of students but also the current education funding model, which is antiquated and does not reflect the realities of today’s classroom. By virtue of the title, “Public School”, it is open to all, regardless of ethnic background, race, gender, beliefs, socioeconomic status, and it is incumbent on trustees to ensure that they receive the supports and programs they need to become contributing members of society.

Consider removing taxation authority from local school boards: this would mean that decisions about priorities and programs of our local schools would be left to politicians on Broadway. Will they see the value of language programs like the Ukrainian Bilingual Program, with its rich culture and heritage? Will they understand that music teaches discipline, collaboration, problem-solving, team work and creativity – all skills that potential employers look for in prospective employees? Will they prioritize Early Years resources to equip our youngest community members to face the challenges of learning to read, do math but also to become confident, interact socially with peers and their communities? Will they see that vocational programs are dynamic, but also expensive to update to remain current? Will they see the value of having athletic programs to strengthen the body and mind of students at every level? Will they support Indigenous perspective being infused in the curriculum and reflect an accurate account of Canadian history? Will they see that children need to not only have their brains infused with knowledge, but their hearts touched as well?

We respectfully ask you, the Commissionaires, to look back 17 years and see that amalgamation of divisions did not save money. There is also no evidence to indicate that student achievement increased. Amalgamation restructuring cost went into administration costs, not into the classroom. And decisions were having to be made further away from the communities that were depending on supports and programs for their students. In some cases, they may have received them, in other cases, they did not.

A community forum was held in Lord Selkirk School Division in November, 2018, and an on-line survey was created to get feedback from our constituents about the priorities, programs and services that they valued – more than 700 people responded. This information was used in the setting of the Budget for the coming year. They include: maintaining small class size, maintaining counsellors in all our schools, continued support for arts and technical vocational programs, maintaining music, band and performing arts in schools, continued support or French Immersion and Ukrainian Bilingual programs while critically evaluating staff levels in light of declining enrollment. Democracy works. School trustees work.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: N/A

Teaching: N/A

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 16

Date Received: 5/26/2019

Name: D.C. Augustine Watanabe

Organization: Not Applicable

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Health care costs are claiming an increasing share of provincial treasury dollars and will continue to do in the coming decades as Canada’s population ages. Under fiscal pressure, it is crucial to recognize that although monies for educational programs and services are not unlimited, they are as essential as health care costs.

Education is a labour intensive endeavour that needs to be given priority in policy.

The current system of differing tax assessments for commercial, farm, industrial and personal property with rebates for farm land and seniors is complex. It is not the result of careful long term planning but rather a lack of political will to implement a radical change in the structure of education finance.

The province of Manitoba has abdicated its leadership role in the funding of education largely by ignoring and deferring issues of equity for taxpayers and students to local school boards. Over the past several decades, 9 Canadian provinces have changed their funding models for education. Only Manitoba continues to have school boards rely on locally levied property tax revenue to fund education services and programs.

Property taxes should have the education levy removed in its entirety. Education should be funded directly from from the provincial treasury. In order to replace the loss of revenue, appropriate adjustments to the retail sales tax and the graduated income tax rates of Manitoba need to be made. A certain portion of income tax could be mandated to be allocated to education.

The origins of Manitoba’s reliance on property taxes to fund education programs and services may have started in the 1870’s but the idea extends even further back in history with the concept of noblesse oblige. There was a time when wealth was signified by land ownership. The wealthy of the day felt a social obligation to act generously to others in society and fund socially beneficial endeavours like local schools. Over time, the education system has grown and evolved to be partially funded directly by the provincial treasury, partially by property taxes collected by the province and partially by property taxes assessed by local school boards. It is currently a complex and convoluted system.

Sparsely populated school boards should be consolidated to harness the power of economies of scale, the introduction of a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and an increase in top income tax rates needs to off-set the removal of property taxes from education funding.

Public tax support of private schools with no constitutional right to funding should end. The province of Manitoba needs to lead morally and philosophically. Why are public schools starved of needed financing so that the already privileged can have their private schools subsidized? Why would any government want to use public dollars to pay for the segregation of society? At the very least, schools accepting public dollars should not be allowed to screen out "undesirable" students.

There are schools with unsustainable low student populations. In order to keep those schools open, there must either be an increase in student population or (in rural, remote and Northern communities) a focus on a whole community use of physical infrastructure. For example, the province could provide funding for more child care spaces or senior centres and use spare school spaces for those day cares or senior centres. In some instances, this is not feasible. The school needs to be shut down unless the local community can create alternate uses for the spare space and be willing to pay for it. Physical infrastructure comes with a cost to operate, even while empty.

If the Province of Manitoba is reluctant to end property taxes, then the province should take over control of all education property taxes so that it can be redistributed equitably with other school boards who may have different needs ie transportation over greater distances, higher heating bills due to geographic location. Funding for Indigenous student programming, EAL, enrichment, special needs, etc. needs to be earmarked in separate funding envelopes.

In order to have transparency with the tax paying public, all PISA and PCAP scores need to be published annually for each individual school in the province. This should be to done with the goal of allowing the public to see the need for more funding in certain schools (remote, high percentage of EAL, poverty rates, etc.) rather than as a punitive "this school is under-performing."

Free from the fluctuations of property tax assessments, centralization of education funding will result in improved long term planning for local school boards. This will be especially helpful when increases in operational costs occur. Sometimes those costs are the result of provincially mandated stipulations such as physical education being extended to Grade 12 or lower teacher-student ratios for Grades 1-3.

The Tax Incentive Grant was meant to discourage local school boards from increasing education property taxes. It no longer exists and property tax increases are occurring in all Winnipeg metro school divisions as the province has allowed increases to private schools to outstrip increases to public schools.

Full centralized funding of operational expenditures will also alleviate issues of equity. For school boards with limited property tax bases, the ability to fund educational programs and services will improve. This will result in students from disadvantaged school boards being able to access services and programs available to students in other wealthier school boards in the province. The Manitoba Teachers Society (MTS) consistently expresses concerns about operating scales for certain school boards impacting those school boards’ ability to deliver programming and services to students.

School boards that face declining enrollment do not equivalent rates of declining costs.

Demands from municipalities for provincial dollars may decrease if education levies are removed from property taxes as it would improve municipalities’ abilities to generate more revenue for their own needs.

Property owners would also appreciate removal of education levies from their property taxes. Assessed property taxes are not attached to an ability to pay the taxes or to the cash flow of the owner but rather to the assessed value. There are already seniors and farmland rebates that acknowledge this concept. Business, industry and personal property owners all have their own reasons for asking for tax relief.

Business and industry consistently criticize property taxes as inhibiting investment and holding back economic growth and job creation.

A major impetus for Manitoba to assume complete provincial control of education funding would be to take on leadership in education and provide equity to all school boards (and their students). Still, there is legitimate concern that if property taxes were removed entirely from the funding of education, there would be a financial shortfall that would lead to school boards being unable to provide adequate programs and services to students.

With the sole exception of Manitoba, all other Canadian provinces have near or complete control over some form of an education property tax base. Those provinces have removed the authority to set mill rates from local school boards.

If Manitoba were to move to a centrally controlled property tax scheme to partially fund education, it could draw from the best examples from other Canadian provinces that would suit Manitoba’s unique population demographic and constitutional situation. As an example, Alberta allows for separate school boards to opt out and set their own tax rates while Ontario does not allow for any opt-outs.

There may be a public hue and cry if exceptions to any new financial structure were granted.

However, constitutionally protected rights should be considered to avoid expensive litigation. It is important to note that Ontario has proven in court that a constitutional right to public funding does not equal a constitutional right to tax.

As in some other provinces, Manitoba could keep property taxes as is and assume the authority to collect and redistribute the revenue while allowing local school boards the discretion in how to spend the monies to address local programming needs.

To alleviate concern that revenue raised from property taxes for education could disappear into general revenues, a separate education fund could be created similar the Alberta School Foundation Fund.

If school boards become mere managers of money given to them by the province, there is a concern that their role in the education system would be minimized. School boards traditionally mediate between the fiscal and educational demands of parents, ratepayers, other community members and the policy direction of the provincial government. If they are not given authority to raise their own revenue, the legitimacy of their advocacy for local needs may fall on deaf ears.

Still, voter participation in school board elections is currently far less than 50% and school board meetings are commonly attended by very few members of the wider community. The question of legitimacy could be asked now, prior to any finance reforms. Rather than an undercutting of the authority of local school boards, provincial assumption of control over education finance could be a signal by the Manitoba government that equity for all school boards and their students is paramount.

The system requires stable, long term funding. The FRAME Report does not allow the taxpaying public to learn which school divisions benefit from property taxes. It also only reports on operating budgets and does not require that capital and special purpose budgets be submitted. The true cost of the education system is translucent.

Comparisons to other provincial jurisdictions and consideration of constitutional protections should be examined as well as an analysis for the allowance of alternate means of revenue raising for local school boards.

The amalgamation and/or elimination of school boards should be facilitated with data, not partisan political considerations. What was the result of the last round of school division consolidations? Was money actually saved?

Ironically, the push for more accountability in the school system has increased the costs of the school system as specialist are hired to ensure guidelines and rules are enforced. Reports have to be written to justify funding. Those report writers have to be funded. Teachers did not attend faculties of education to learn how to do financial justification of the system. They want to work with students.  

The major themes of this policy brief are founded in the research and ideas of Judith Herman, Joseph Garcea, Dustin Munroe, Ben Levin, Tim Sale, Jon Young, Dick Henley, Jerome Cranston and the 2015 FRAME Report.

Braeden Jones. ‘Unfair choice’ looms for education system. Winnipeg Metro News, March 11-13, 2016.

Dick Henley and Jon Young. School Boards and Education Finance in Manitoba: The Politics of Equity, Access and Local Autonomy. Downloaded March 30, 2016 from: https://www.umanitoba.ca/publications/cjeap/articles/young_henley.html Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, Issue #72, April 17, 2008.

Ethan Cable. Manitoba school boards need leadership, says professor. Manitoban, Vol. 102, No. 17 January 6, 2016.

James Heskett. How Relevant is Long-Term Strategic Planning? Harvard Business Review. Downloaded March 30, 2016 from: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/how-relevant-is-long-range-strategic-planning

Jerome Cranston. Educational Finance EDUA 7030 (A01) Lectures, University of Manitoba, January 14- March 24, 2016.

Jon Young, Ben Levin and Dawn Wallin. Chapter 5: Understanding Canadian Schools. Available at: http://homepage.usask.ca/~dcw130/understandingcanadianschools.html Joseph Garcea and Dustin Munroe. Reforms to funding education in four Canadian provinces. Available at: https://www.umanitoba.ca/publications/cjeap/pdf_files/garcea_munroe.pdf

Judith Herman. Canada’s approach to school funding: The adoption of provincial control of education funding in three provinces. Available at: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2013/05/14/63131/cana das-approach-to-school-funding/

Manitoba Education. The 2015 Financial Reporting and Accounting in Manitoba Education (FRAME Report). Available at http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/finance/frame_report/2015-16_frame_budget.pdf

Manitoba School Boards Association. School Board Member Handbook. Downloaded on March 30, 2016 from: http://www.mbschoolboards.ca/documents/SchoolboardmemberhandbookJan2014.pdf

Manitoba Teachers Society. The Main Sources of Operating Revenue Supporting Manitoba Public Schooling. Downloaded on March 30, 2016: http://www.mbteach.org/inside-mts/ed finance/Part 3 Main Sources of Operating Revenue Basic Structure of the Funding Model.pdf

Manitoba Teachers Society. The Public Policy Foundations of Public School Finance Downloaded on March 30, 2016: http://www.mbteach.org/inside-mts/ed finance/Part 1 Public Policy Foundations - Key Concepts and Principles.pdf Manitoba Teachers Society. The Significance of School Division and School District Operating Scale. Downloaded on March 30, 2016: http://www.mbteach.org/inside-mts/ed finance/Part 4 The Significance of School Division and School District Operating Scale.pdf

Raj K. Chawla and Ted Wannell. Property Taxes. Perspectives on Labour and Income – The Online Edition (July 2003, Vol. 4, No. 7). Downloaded March 30, 2016 from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-001-x/00703/6578-eng.html

Tim Sale and Ben Levin. Problems in the reform of educational finance: A case study. Available at: http://www.csse-scee.ca/CJE/Articles/FullText/CJE16-1/CJE16-13Levin.pdf

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: The taxation scheme in Manitoba has to change. Increase the marginal tax rates for higher income earners and introduce an HST to offset the elimination of education funding from property taxes. As well, eliminate public funding for private schools who have no constitutional right to said funding. Increase public engagement in the public school system by removing funding for private schools or outlawing private schools in totality. As well, increase in school board transparency so that the public is aware of what each individual trustee stand for so participation in school board elections increases.

Student Learning: Student learning is directly affected by funding and access to programming. The annual publication of PISA and PCAP scores (broken down by each individual school) should allow for education leaders to best allocate dollars to schools in need due to different student populations, geographic location or issues of poverty.

Teaching: Institute a Manitoba College of Teachers and separate the function of labour negotiations, work place health and safety, and teacher welfare from professional standards in MTS. If teachers truly want to be seen as professionals, they need a professional colleges such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, etc. In order to give the College credibility, it should be run and adjudicated by certified teachers.

Accountability for Student Learning: Student learning is directly affected by funding and access to programming. The annual publication of PISA and PCAP scores (broken down by each individual school) should allow for education leaders to best allocate dollars to schools in need due to different student populations, geographic location or issues of poverty.

Governance: School Boards in Manitoba should be required to publish recorded votes on every single motion at a school board meeting. This would be so the general public learns which trustees voted for or against any particular project or idea. While in camera meeting are vital to allowing for free and open debate, any votes taken should be published (with exceptions for human resource management or student discipline.)

The Manitoba School Boards Association should be disbanded as it trains individual trustees that their role as corporate officers exceeds their role as representatives of the voting public. This fundamentally undermines the role of democracy.

Funding: Funding should be centralized and removed from the control of individual school boards. It should be redistributed on an equity basis to account for geography, student need, PISA and PCAP results and community poverty. Income tax rate increases in the highest income brackets and the introduction of an HST should be used to off set the elimination of property taxes to fund education.

Brief 17

Date Received: 5/27/2019

Name: Dr. Laura Reimer

Organization: 1959

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Governance

Brief: MANITOBA K-S4 EDUCATION REVIEW
Submitted to: Manitoba Education Review Commission
Submitted by: Laura Reimer, PhD

ISSUE: Review and Revision of Education Governance (Manitoba School Boards) There are many reasons for the current loss of public and government confidence in the role and performance of school boards, but what is critical is the fact that no review of public education can be effective without assurance of strong and effective leadership at the governance level. In my considered opinion, a review of K-S4 will be unsustainable and will not achieve the intended outcomes without a considered revision and major reconfiguration of Manitoba’s school boards. Long-term public evidence in Manitoba indicates that the goals of government and of public education are consistently thwarted and misapplied by perhaps well-intended, but definitely underperforming trustees. There is strong public appetite to address the expense and ineffectiveness of school boards. Many school boards have become toxic tiny societies, a barrier of confrontation to the public and the administrations they govern, rather than community engaged voices. According to their Minutes, many school board meetings are not pre-occupied with education, and this suggests that Trustees are not working with administrations to adequately resource them to achieve the goals of public education.

BACKGROUND: I am a former school trustee (St Boniface, and then Louis Riel School Divisions) with a Masters of Public Administration and a Ph D in education policy, and believe in the value of effective democratic governance for public education when it is properly exercised. I was Vice-Chair of the Louis Riel school board through the last round of amalgamations. As a political scientist with a focus on public and education administration, I have spent most of my career exploring what effective public policy decisions look like. I have written two books on leadership and school boards, which were my effort to inform sitting and future trustees of the import of their role. The books are the product of my experiences in the schools as a volunteer, Parent Advisory Council member and president, member of MAPC and MAST, and especially my near hopeless endeavors to exercise good-governance at the school board table both as a trustee and afterwards as a consultant/academic. The combination of these experiences has led me to develop an expertise in governance, and school board governance in particular. The need for good governance training and exercise at all of Manitoba’s governing tables (health care, non-profits, public agencies and boards) is shocking. Though I do believe that people who candidate to serve as elected school trustees are well intended at the outset, this is not the evidence we see in the performance of the majority of trustees currently serving on the boards.

CURRENT STATUS: Effective and meaningful education governance means that the current number of school boards ought to be consolidated to perhaps 6. Research shows that those members of the division that interact with the public most meaningfully are the local administrations, including the Superintendents’ offices, not the school trustees. In this case, smaller administrative bodies closely aligned with the communities they serve are more effective public representatives and much more immediately capable of incorporating local concerns and economic realities into the delivery of education. While school boards are the actually responsible for the more difficult implementations of public policy in response to funding allocations (for example, teacher cuts and class size expansions), a quick review of current media is evidence that the provincial governments are blamed for these decisions, not the school boards. I see an opportunity for an efficient, economical, and effective revamping of public education at the governance level that would allow for some public representation, but that would take the waste out of the current system.

KEY CONSIDERATIONS: Government is seeking to improve outcomes for students, ensure long-term sustainability and enhance public confidence in our education system. Fewer school boards may save some money, but it will definitely eliminate huge amounts of various forms of waste – especially time.

OPTIONS:

  1. Eliminate Manitoba School Boards.
  2. Consolidate Manitoba School Boards.

The elimination of school boards in Canada has not had a highly successful nor popular track record, but this does not mean that consolidating, revamping, and severely reducing the number is not a wise option for Manitoba. In each of the following options, the underperformance of school board members as governing trustees requires address:

A. Create 6 school boards in Manitoba (Winnipeg, rural west, rural east, First Nations, DSFM, Frontier) to govern the existing school division administrations.

B. Create 6 school boards and 6 administrative divisions in Manitoba to oversee the learning communities (Winnipeg, rural west, rural east, First Nations, DSFM, Frontier) modelled after the Winnipeg model with locally focused administrations).

RECOMMENDATIONS and DISCUSSION:
Recommend Option 2A.

Option 2A. While I would highly recommend a severe reduction of the number of school boards while retaining many of the current divisions for effective delivery of education, I would hastily suggest that given the expensive, ineffective amalgamations of the NDP, having the Trustees govern amalgamation of any kind is ill-advised. I offer the following explanations for my recommendations toward improving the governance of education.

  1. Board Governance Training: Elected trustees do not know how to exercise board governance. A review of Manitoba school board minutes reveal a consistent pattern of non-education related school board table discussions. Very, very few governance decisions are made at any of the Board tables according to their official minutes. While highly paid and highly trained education executives sit at the public meetings waiting for approval on critical matters related to budget; allegations of misconduct from board members toward staff members; provincial policy implementation; and general administration, Trustees talk about their own cell phone use at the table, whether or not buying leather couches for staff rooms is ‘putting money into the classrooms,’ and extended discussions about matters that, by policy, belong to the administration (bus replacement; parking issues; the popularity of specific teachers or administrators). Few trustees, nor those who run for public office, are seemingly aware of what governance means or how to exercise it. Those who get elected, and those who serve long terms, assume they know. If we are to retain school boards, there must be mandatory governance training, NOT conducted by MASB, an organization funded by public dollars seemingly without performance measures or a correspondingly significant track record of public service for better governance Programs are not results.
  2. Long serving trustees are often very poor trustees who, according to Minutes, do not serve to advance the intentions of the provincial government, to bbring the public voice to the table, nor to serve the needs of the administration they govern. In many cases, they become bullies at the table, using their experience to intimidate and overwhelm other voices. This is currently a severe problem and those administrators who are serving under these board are stymied from any potential relief from toxic and underperforming trustees, except hope in the outcomes of the public elections. Furthermore, there is evidence that the majority of seasoned trustees tend to keep a low public profile and claim the public accountability of the board, not the individual, when it comes to elections. One will recall many election signs about integrity; honesty; passion, and even classroom experience, but few that expound the qualities or experiences of effective governors. If we are to retain school boards, trustee terms must be limited, and trustees must be retrained as governors each term.
  3. Public and community engagement is actively discouraged by the majority of school board members. Perhaps there is no sinister motive behind these consistent behaviors, but it does mean that the public voice is NOT represented in the discussions nor decisions of the boards. If we are to retain school boards, there must be intelligent community engagement policies, practices, and processes in place, fully understood by each and every elected trustee.
  4. Among most boards, democracy has been lost; there is essentially no public voice at the school board table. There is a genuine disconnect between the public and their contribution to the role of the school in our society, especially through the role of the school board. As school curriculum has increasingly become the site of ideological social engineering, questions or concerns by the public to their representatives at the board table are typically met by a mindset that attacks the character of the inquirer (Teachers really care about kids; You must be a Racist/Homophobe/Elitist; Teachers work harder than anyone; Your views are pathological). School board election materials rarely demonstrate track records of the trustee or of the board related to ‘improved education’ and the ‘preciousness of our children.’ Most trustees feel that public access to their minutes on the Division website is community engagement and do not extend efforts beyond that to listen. In fact, most trustees, when they do meet with the public as a board, are defensive and argumentative with those they represent. Trustees scorn any inquiries (including appropriate ones) brought to the table through the voice of trustees who have encountered the public in the public realm. If we are to retain school boards, trustees MUST be trained in effective and appropriate community engagement practices and how to bring those forward.
  5. Public Record. There is essentially no meaningful public record of the work of school boards. A review of official minutes review months of meetings of essentially NO governance decisions. If we are to retain school boards, trustees must be trained on what the public record is for; the boards must be reconfigured and trustees retrained to include the public voice, accountability to the public, and accessible public records.
  6. Policy Manuals. For the most part, these are outdated, ineffective, extremely large documents with which most Trustees are unfamiliar. Policy Manuals must become relevant, familiar documents for administrators and for school board members. Revamping them is not difficult or expensive, but does require expertise. There is a tendency for administrations to develop complicated administrative procedural manuals in an effort to “keep Trustees out” of the business of the division. Few divisions have Board policy manuals that address the role and legal activities of the Board itself; two manuals with one guiding the work of the board and the other delegated to the responsibility of the admnistration has proven effective according to much research. If we are to retain school boards, this must be addressed and adjusted as it speaks directly to governance ignorance.
  7. Finally, the key leader of every school division is its Superintendent, but Trustees are completely untrained for the seriousness of this role – hiring, evaluation, and dismissal typically takes place under the tutelage of extremely expensive consultants OR under the guidance of senior trustees. Despite continuous efforts by MASS, academics, and staff members of MAST/MASB, the hiring and evaluation of the Superintendent and her team continues inconsistently across the province.

Option 1. This is a very expensive option that has not proven to improve education in the past. I am not confident that there is political, professional, or public appetite for the disruption and community disintegration of school board and district amalgamations that took place under the amalgamations of the NDP. Research and the public records of Manitoba School boards indicate that a review of K-S4 will be considerably more effective given consideration toward address of the serious problem posed to public education by the current structure and behaviors of the majority of Manitoba school boards, however well intended the Trustees may be.

Thank you for your attention.
Sincerely,
Dr. Laura Reimer

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: N/A

Teaching: N/A

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: Consolidate School Boards (but not Divisions) and Mandate the Following:

1. Mandatory, monitored governance training for all Trustees and those intending to candidate for election to provide effective sustainable governance that is critical to student outcomes and public confidence. This will mean legislative change and standards (not just codes of conduct) to restrict Trustees at the Table to their governance role in their behaviors, board table discussions, and interactions in the buildings and with divisional staff.

2. Limits on individual consecutive Trustee terms for strong governance, enhanced public confidence, and a sustained focus on student outcomes.

3. Community engagement training, policies, and practices for elected board members for meaningful public representation and in this way, enhance public confidence.

4. Meaningful public record of the work of the board presented as performance measures and achievements of the board; this will provide evidence of student outcomes, engage the community, and build public confidence.

5. Board Policy Manuals must be established that focus the Board on its work and remove it from administrative interference in order to improve outcomes for students, ensure long-term sustainability for educational outcomes, and enhance public confidence in our education system.

6. Standards and expertise for hiring and evaluation of the Superintendent must not continue in its current state. In order to improve outcomes for students, ensure long-term sustainability and enhance public confidence in our education system, the performance of the school board in this critical role must be carefully reconsidered.

Funding: N/A

Brief 18

Date Received: 5/27/2019

Name: Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning

Brief: The Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba is a charitable organization dedicated to helping school children learn, grow, and succeed by supporting school breakfast, snack, and lunch programs. Since 2001, the work of the Council has facilitated learning by ensuring access to long-term, regular nourishment. We receive funding and support from the Province of Manitoba which allows us to leverage additional, much needed funds from foundations and the business community.

The Council has and continues to build a team of passionate qualified professionals including dietitians and volunteer board members that are all determined to work hard to ensure school nutrition programs in Manitoba provide nutritious snacks and meals. Our dietitians visit programs to gain insight into the challenges faced by program coordinators and schools. The Council stays in touch with programs to answer questions, help solve problems, offer new ideas and ensure accountability by tracking finances and statistics. To further support programs, the Council provides food skills and nutrition education workshops for program coordinators to facilitate healthy menu choices.

This submission focuses on Student Learning – What are the conditions required to achieve excellence in student achievement and outcomes in Manitoba. Throughout this submission there are narratives shared by schools, to provide further context to the realities faced by students and communities, as well as to support current research.

Children and Food Insecurity

Canada

Nearly 3.2 million individuals in Canada are living in a food insecure household, including nearly 1 million children under the age of 18 (Tarasuk et al., 2016). In 2014, provinces and territories indicated that 1 in 6 Canadian children are affected by household insecurity (Tarasuk et al., 2016). Twenty-five percent of grade 6 children surveyed by the Public Health Agency of Canada stated that they sometimes went to bed hungry because there was not enough food in the house (Ke and Ford-Jones, 2015). Rates of food insecurity have been found to be higher among Indigenous children than non-Indigenous children. Moderate and severe food insecurity rates in Canada range from 22% to 63% in Indigenous households (Health Canada, n.d.).

Manitoba

Manitoba continues to have one of the highest poverty rates at 27.5% (Campaign 2000, 2017). Food Bank Canada’s most recent HungerCount 2018 reported over 68,000 individuals accessed food banks in Manitoba in March 2018. Of these reported visits, 42.6% were serving children. (Food Banks Canada, 2019).

Until we address that need _poverty_ and address how we're going to remove those barriers that are put in place for children and families due to poverty, we're gonna continue to have low test scores, we're gonna to continue to have struggling students - CBC News- Teachers, Parents Give Their Take on What Manitoba’s School System Needs April, 2019

Children who experience food insecurity are at a higher risk for poor nutritional status, higher rates of mental health problems and lower educational outcomes. Food insecure youth have a lower consumption of vegetables, fruits and milk products, which can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as vitamin A and C, calcium, magnesium and zinc (Dietitians of Canada, 2016). The prevalence of mental disorders is three times higher in children living in poverty, including hyperactivity, depression and suicidal ideation (Tarasuk et al., 2016). Research has demonstrated that nutritionally deprived children experience more health problems including anemia, weight loss, colds, and infections, and have more school absences and learning problems than food-secure children (Howard and Edge, 2013). However, it’s not just vulnerable youth who are lacking healthy food. A lack of time and capacity means that even families who are not experiencing food insecurity are struggling to provide healthy food to their kids.

The student population of Alonsa Community School is generally drawn from homes with financial challenges. Rates of unemployment and underemployment are fairly high in the local area. All of these at home and community issues reflect on student successes within school academics as well as the overall social, emotional and physical health of the students. - Alonsa Community School

Brooklands School resides in the northeast end of St. James-Assiniboia School Division. Demographically this area has fallen significantly below the Division norms on the EDI results. The areas of greatest concern have been in the a) Physical health and well-being, b) Social competency, c) Emotional maturity, and d) Communication skills and general knowledge. These deficits have impacted negatively on school success. - Brooklands School

Impact of School Nourishment Programs

Addressing hunger issues at school with universal nourishment programs has been shown to improve access, quantity, quality and sustainability of foods for school-aged children and youth (Hernandez, et al.,2018). However, Canada is one of the only industrialized countries without a national school food program and was recently ranked 37th of 41 countries around providing healthy food for kids (Coalition for Healthy School Food, n.d.).

As we know, not every student starts from the same place, so having no questions asked nutrition programming available for all of our students is very important to us and also important for our community. - Elwick Community School

Student Attendance

Food insecurity impacting a child’s hunger and access to nutrition, has consistently been found to have a large impact on a child’s rate of attendance at school. Children from low-income households consistently fall behind their peers in test scores, graduation rates, college enrolment, and other measures of academic success (Howard and Edge, 2013). Poor nutrition can leave students’ susceptible to illness or lead to headaches and stomachaches, resulting in school absences (Brown, et al.,2008). In a Toronto study, students who ate morning meals most days were less likely to be absent than students who ate morning meals on fewer days in a school week or never ate them (Toronto School Board, 2012).

Some students that can't afford to bring food to school choose not to attend because they don't want that situation noticed by schools. By having the programs available to all children it takes that stigma away and knowing that families face difficulties and need support along the way we can help get the kids what they need to have a productive day at school and give them what they need to grow. - École Swan River South School

Students used to try to ask to go home because they were hungry or had headaches from not eating. Parents used to not send their kids to school because they had no lunch to send with them. Since the inception of this program we have seen considerable increase in attendance of the kids who need the help. - Strathclair Community School

Academic Performance

Poorly nourished children are less likely to attend school, as well as have a decreased ability to concentrate and perform well at school, thus threatening their opportunity to gain an education and vital skills for life. A 2-year pilot school meal program with grades 6 to 8 in Toronto, was found to have the following benefits on student’s learning outcomes: improved learning skills and class participation, better scores in mathematics, reading, and science, less likelihood of being suspended from school due to discipline or student behavior, and a decrease in absenteeism (Toronto School Board, 2012).

In a study by Hanning et al. (2011) teachers reported that school nutrition programs in remote Ontario First Nations communities improved classroom behavior on days when food was provided, including increased alertness, motivation and attentiveness.

When my students have a snack, I notice that concentration and focus is much better but more importantly the mood of my students improves. They are very grateful for the boost and I know I am grateful for the help because it is much easier to teach students that are feeling happier. - Victor Mager School

As we complete the second year of our program, we appreciate the significant impact it has made on students, and, subsequently on learning. As a school with a high number of children in care and other children who are often worried about the availability of food, the program has provided a sense of security that school is a safe and nurturing place that will support all of their needs during the school day. - R.F. Morrison School

School Climate

As outlined in the updated 2019 Canada’s Dietary Guidelines, eating together can help reinforce and model positive eating habits, giving children an opportunity to learn about food and share food cultures. Nourishment programs give children this opportunity, by creating a safe space where children of all socioeconomic backgrounds can find encouragement, get to know friendly adults, learn about nutrition, gain food skills and volunteer credits, and build relationships with other students of various ages and backgrounds. Research has also established a link between nutrition and behavior. Studies have found that access to nutrition can enhance a student’s psychosocial well-being, reduce aggression and school suspensions, and decrease discipline problems (Brown et al., 2008).

Based on a school wide survey we conducted students told us about the impact of having a healthy and nutritious snack readily available. Students mentioned they were able to concentrate better and focus more on their studies knowing they could grab something to eat at school if needed. The school climate improved as well as our program became primarily student led. Students continually mentioned how grateful they were to have such programming in place! - Glenlawn Collegiate

Investment in Students and School Communities

It is critical that funding be available so that universally, food is available to any school-age student at no cost to the student regardless of perceived need. We know that by addressing hunger, there is a significant impact on a student’s health, well being, and academic success. Programs need to be unique to each school, so each school community can ensure their students’ needs are met in order to level the playing field for students who have come to school without having had enough to eat.

References

Brown, L., Beardslee,W., and Prothrow-Stith, D. (2008). Impact Of School Breakfast On Children’s Health And Learning: An Analysis Of The Scientific Research. Retrieved from http://us.stop-hunger.org/files/live/sites/stophunger-us/files/HungerPdf/Impact of School Breakfast Study_tcm150-212606.pdf

Campaign 2000. (2017). Manitoba Child and Family Report Card 2017. Retrieved from https://campaign2000.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/2017-MB_ChildFamilyPovReportCard_FINAL.pdf

Coalition for Healthy School Food. (n.d.). For a Universal Healthy School Food Program. Retrieved from https://foodsecurecanada.org/sites/foodsecurecanada.org/files/coalitionfor healthyschoolfood.sm_.pdf

Dietitians of Canada. (2016). Prevalence, Severity and Impact of Household Food Insecurity: A Serious Public Health Issue: Background Paper Dietitians of Canada. Retrieved from https://www.dietitians.ca/Dietitians-Views/Food-Security/Household-Food-Insecurity.aspx

Food Banks Canada (2019). HungerCount 2018. Retrieved from https://12150r2wpmcf42rvin2agp7n-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/HungerCount_2018-1.pdf

Hanning, R., Skinner,K., Gates, M.,Gates, A.,Tsuji, L. (2011) School nutrition programs in remote First Nation communities of the western James Bay region: impact, challenges and opportunities. Retrieved from http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/43475.html#s6

Health Canada. (n.d.) Household food insecurity in Canada statistics and graphic (2011 to 2012). Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/ nutrition-science-research/ food-security/household-food-security-statistics-2011-2012.html#s6

Hernandez, K., Engler-Stringer, R., Kirk, S., Wittman, H., and McNicholl, S. (2018). The case for a Canadian national school food program. Canadian Food Studies, 5 (3), 208-229.

Howard, A., Edge, J., (2013). Enough for All: Household Food Security in Canada. Retrieved from https://www.conferenceboard.ca/temp/4df71390-8f2d-4daa-aeb1-852cfca97815/14-058 _EnoughForAll_CFIC.pdf

Ke, J., and Ford-Jones, E. (2015). Food Insecurity and Hunger: A review of the Effects on Children’s Health and Behavior. Paediatrics and Child Health, 20(2), 89–91.

Petz, S. (2018, April 27). Teachers, Parents Give Their Take on What Manitoba’s School System Needs. CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba -commission-education-review-public-workshop-1.5114082

Tarasuk, V, Mitchell, A, Dachner, N. (2016). Household food insecurity in Canada, 2014: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). Retrieved from http://proof.utoronto.ca

Toronto School Board. (2012). Feeding our future: The first- and second-year evaluation. Toronto District School Board. Retrieved from https://beta.images.theglobeandmail.com/archive/01405/ Feeding_Our_Future _1405357a.pdf

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: Recommendation 1:

Increase and sustain an annual investment for universal school breakfast, snack and lunch programs, available for any school-age student at no cost regardless of perceived need. The investment would expand existing nourishment programs; enable existing programs to further improve the nutritional quality of the food served; and provide support to programs in new schools.

Recommendation 2:

Facilitate a collaborative approach to addressing a health-promoting, school meal program, involving multiple stakeholders and government departments, with a mandate to improve access to nutritious food for Manitoba students. The Council should be part of this discussion.

Teaching: N/A

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 19

Date Received: 5/27/2019

Name: Garden Valley School Division

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is an education, and one of the finest and most fruitful investments in the future of our communities is our public education system. A strong public education system is essential to the individual and collective well-being of our province and its people, and to the development of an informed and engaged society. The challenges facing the education system today require thoughtful solutions, shared responsibility, and consideration of proven strategies and programs. Exclusionary approaches and cost-cutting measures that substitute for real solutions distract from the important work needed to strengthen our system and provide an excellent education for all our children. Public education depends upon public support, public participation, and mutual accountability between schools and the communities they serve.

As the Commission undertakes this important review, we encourage that consideration be given not only to common provincial policies, but also the thousands of contextual daily decisions in local schools across our province.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision:

  • A K-12 education that focuses on the whole child—the social, emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development of each student.
  • Preparing children to be good neighbours, workers, and citizens.
  • Developing respectful people of integrity who are creative, collaborative, critical thinkers, and able to effectively communicate in a changing world.
  • A shift in emphasis from the instruction of facts to a model which focuses on competencies such as critical thinking, character, creativity, innovation, as well as digital literacy.
  • Today's classrooms need to engage students in their learning through authentic, relevant inquiry and problem solving.
  • Learning that extends beyond the walls of the school, where students can engage in learning opportunities within the community and the world at large, as well as bring the world into the classroom.

Student Learning:

  • A clear understanding of and commitment to ensuring that all students develop the necessary skills.
  • Clear articulation of the learning targets and the criteria for success.
  • Build understanding across and among core subjects.
  • Emphasize deep understanding.
  • Engage students with real world data, tools and experts in solving meaningful problems.
  • A healthy balance between direct instruction and project-oriented teaching methods.
  • All students require equitable access to quality learning tools, technologies and resources.
  • Teachers who maintain an understanding and proficiency with the use of current technologies.
  • Many students in Manitoba come to school without their basic needs being met. Schools require resources to help meet those basic needs. Children can only focus on their learning when their basic needs are first met.
  • Success and excellence in achievement can look different for each student. As such, schools need to be able to offer a variety of programs that engage students and prepare them for life beyond high school, whether that be post-secondary, apprenticeship or the work force.
  • Education must focus on the whole child—the social, emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development of each student.

Teaching:

  • Prepare teacher candidates to enter the profession with a solid understanding in best pedagogical practices for teaching literacy and numeracy.
  • Sufficient staffing for all divisions to hire learning coaches to provide training and in-class support on literacy and numeracy.
  • Sufficient staffing to maintain reasonable class sizes and necessary student support services, such as clinicians, counsellors, etc.
  • Sufficient administrative time in every school to ensure that school administrators have the time to be educational leaders.
  • Sufficient time and resources to ensure that all teachers are able to access professional growth opportunities annually.
  • A comprehensive leadership development program, in addition to post-secondary programs in educational administration, that becomes a requirement for all educational leaders. Sessions need to be offered regionally in order to provide greater access to all individuals interested in participating.
  • Knowledge sharing through professional learning communities.

Accountability for Student Learning:

  • Clearly articulated and up-to-date strategic plans that link division goals to department goals and student achievement.
  • Developing the right measures and collecting the data for the purpose of improvement, as opposed to ranking and sorting, helps to point divisions in the right direction.
  • Supporting divisions in analyzing and responding to data to drive improvement.
  • Locally elected school board trustees who engage parents and the community in strategic planning that focuses on student learning.

Governance:

  • Maintain the current system of governance that works very effectively and efficiently.
    • There is role clarity for each stakeholder in the current governance model and school boards are functioning effectively.
    • Local school boards are able to work directly with senior administration and school leaders to draft an annual strategic plan following the directions of the province, provide the necessary resources to carry out the plan, and receive regular updates on the effectiveness of the plan and make adjustments as necessary.
    • The schools in each community look different throughout the province and have unique needs Local school boards have the ability to respond to the needs and establish different approaches on behalf of their communities - grassroots democracy in action.
    • Listening to the majority of Manitobans who want to keep their local school boards.
  • Keep school divisions at an optimal size so they:
    • Can be nimble enough to react quickly to meet the needs of schools and communities.
    • Are able to reflect the values and priorities of the communities they serve.
  • Where feasible, school divisions can create partnerships that draw on economy of scale, maximize efficiencies, and provide greater learning opportunities for students.

Funding:

  • Sufficient provincial funding is required to ensure equity across all divisions.
  • Local school boards need the autonomy to raise a portion of funds locally to meet the needs and priorities of local communities.
  • Developing a method of taxation that does not place an unfair burden on any one group.

Brief 20

Date Received: 5/27/2019

Name: Charlene Sacher

Organization: Parent and Teacher

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: I am a teacher, I am a mother, I am an advocate and it is for these reasons I am contacting you today. Education is a right according the UN Rights of a Child and the students are facing an increasing number of challenges to their education. It is imperative that any plan for improving education looks at the whole child, the whole family and the whole community. The metacognative summy research done on educational research done by John Hattie continually shows that students need to have relationships, feel safe and secure and have appropriate resources in place in order to address their needs. There are currently huge discrepancies between divisions and the students in Manitoba because of the cuts that are taking place. I hope that the commission will choose to listen to the voices of teachers when considering how to best serve the students in Manitoba. The students are our investment, they are not an expense to be cut to balance a budget.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: The TRC and the pursuit of equity and justice must guide our vision in creating a better future for our students in Manitoba. By ensure that students in reserves, by working alongside the federal government in supporting students, those who live up North and those in rural communities are given the same opportunities as the students in the south.

  • build teacher and student capacity for intercultural understanding and empathy through Manitoba curriculum
  • develop age appropriatee curriculum for treaty education, acurate historical information and contempory Indigenous challenges

Increase the heritage languages and French language resources by:

  • ensure that students in FI and francais schools are supported through appropriate resources that are accessed through a central library

Finally, through addressing mental health and poverty, as these are areas that are crippling our systems, children will have better academic success, better mental and physical health and higher rates of graduation.

  • free bus ridership for students
  • task-force of how to positively effect socio-economic conditions through the consultation of the society, teachers and other key stakeholders - recommendations to be implimented in a timely fashion

Student Learning: By capping class sizes teachers are able to form better relationships with their students. In a metacognitive study of tens of thousands of educational studies throughout the world in the last couple of decades, John Hattie found that the biggest predeterminer of student success is positive relationship with the teacher. By reducing class sizes, teachers are able to focus on the whole child and form a strong relationship with children.

By ensuring that the curriculum is up-to-date, accurate and inclusive of all will help students thrive academically. Having curriculum based on best, research, evidence-based teaching will impact the students. By ensuring expertise of teachers is used and should be shared in a collaborative manner. The curriculum needs to reflect our provincial context.

As a teacher with students with exceptional differences it is paramount that we look at how we can address the needs of all of our students. By ensuring that students are supported through appropriate IEPs, Behaviour Plans are important. This requires for additional student service teachers, educational assistants and positive behaviour support educators. We need improved access to clinicians both within the school and in order to access those that work outside our schools.

There are links between mental health and well-being and academic learning so in order to affect their learning we must first address the social-emotional well-being of each student. Between 15-25% of all young people suffer from a mental disorder. By reducing the stigma, providing more supports for those with mental health issues, and providing early intervention we can better address the growing needs of students. Currently in the school that I teach in the wait time for a psychologist is 1-3 years and in my children's school it is the same. We require more clinical services.

Teaching: The everchanging programs come and go in education. This can at times cause confusion as to what is evidence based teaching and what is a passing fad. By working with lead teachers (principals and vice-principals), teachers and specialists a creation of a more uniform teaching standards. These teaching standards are to hold teachers to high expectations however should still allow for teachers to ensure that they can implement these teaching practices using their own style and in a way that allows the teachers to take into consideration their class and their school community.

By ensuring that teachers have access to self-directed and school directed professional development will ensure that the teachers are working with evidence based teaching models.

Accountability for Student Learning: IF provincial assessments are to be used they should be used in collaboration with teacher's formative and summative assessments. When reporting the data, this should be done in the context of what is Manitoba's standing, not just amongst the provinces, but world wide. Repeatedly we have seen the spin made in the media that Manitoba is grossly underperforming, our academic success is a reflection of the poverty that Manitoba faces. As well, when we look at how Manitoba is preforming compared to other countries by using assessments such as the PISA, Manitoba scores continues to score in the top 5.

The use of exemplars for all grade levels at various times of the year should be developed with direct consultation with Manitoba teachers across the province and in consultation of Manitoba Curriculum for literacy and numeracy to ensure that the provincial report card is accurate across our province.

Governance: Manitoba teachers should continued to be governed through the Manitoba Teacher Society and maintain our Professional Code of Conduct. The society conducts business on behalf of all public school teacher including the lead teacher or the principal teacher in each building. All administrators are teachers first.

By electing trustees in each riding we can ensure that the voices of the public are heard and concerns are addressed at a local level.

Funding: Funding needs to be increased to students, this will mean that there will need to be a tax increase in order to fund the teachers, the specialists, the clinicians, and the educational assistants. Students are not able to work in their classrooms due to lack of support. This is leading to students becoming violent towards other students and teachers, students being unable to complete tasks or stay in the classroom due to outside situations. By increasing the funding, we are better able to support the students who may require more support to make the schools more equitable and more just. Just as I tell my students, "Just because something is the same doesn't make it fair"

Brief 21

Date Received: 5/28/2019

Name: Brian O'Leary

Organization: Seven Oaks School Division

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: N/A

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision:

  • The long term vision for Manitoba’s education system must continue to reflect broad goals rather than narrow targets. Better outcomes for our students and the elimination of achievement gaps matters, but if the pursuit of those goals leads to reduced student engagement and the abandonment of important goals like fostering creativity, citizenship and health, opportunities for students will be diminished, they will be less engaged and we will not realize the improvement we are striving for.
  • Gaps in outcomes and achievement for Indigenous children, children in care and children affected by poverty must be narrowed and eliminated. This is the greatest challenge facing us. Poverty and racism affect outcomes but they do not determine them. Schools can’t do everything but they can do something. We need to clearly understand what we can do that makes a difference and we need to focus on doing those things really well.
  • Enhance the capacity of the system to improve through program renewal, innovation and school reorganization. Evidence and data needs to be linked to program and practice. Practices that are dated, not supported by evidence and research, and ineffective need to be identified and changed. Schools and programs need to be reorganized to reflect shifting demographics, societal change and current evidence and research.
  • Value Manitoba’s diversity as a strength by supporting language programs, reflecting diversity in staffing and curriculum and by acting on the Commission on Truth and Reconciliations Calls to Action.

Student Learning:

  • Manitoba should embrace key elements of successful systems like Finland (a common curriculum with high expectations for all learners, student services that identify and remedy learning difficulties early, inclusion and valuing the professionalism of teachers).
  • We should rethink vocational education transitioning from early entry (age 14) lab based programs to late entry (age 16) cooperative internship programs. This will provide students with a stronger academic base, more educated choice, greater flexibility and be more current with industry standards and needs. It will cost less, be more successful and contribute to workforce development.
  • Reduce or eliminate approaches to education that segregate students and lower expectations for them. All students should have access to quality teaching, healthy peers and rich engaging learning opportunities. Students without advantages need schooling that provides advantage.
  • Expand opportunities for students to benefit from real world experience through mentorships, internships and cooperative placements using approaches like Big Picture Learning’s Met School model and Cooperative Vocational Education. The University of Waterloo has demonstrated that this can be brought to scale.
  • Support comprehensive, targeted pre-school parenting and language development programming particularly home visiting programs supporting vulnerable families. These initiatives are inexpensive and effective. Seven Oaks “Partners in Learning Program” is an effective school based model and our North Forge Literacy and Numeracy Challenge initiative is a promising cost effective home visiting model.
  • Encourage school organization models that leverage the power of strong enduring teacher student relationships (multi-age classes, looping, middle years, teacher advisor programs). All of our high schools have well developed teacher advisor programs. Only 8% of Seven Oaks high school students miss more than 10 classes a semester. Province wide the average is 21%.
  • Maintain formula based funding for special needs. The former student based funding system incentivized a deficit view of students, stigmatized them and led to an over reliance on special needs staffing and program models that didn’t always serve students well.

Teaching:

  • Maintain the wages, pensions, benefits and working conditions enjoyed by teachers. It is vital to continue to attract talented individuals into teaching.
  • Develop or maintain opportunities for the continuing development of teachers (time for collaboration, support and development of new teachers through mentorship). There is no path to improved outcomes without good teaching.
  • Support and strengthen programs to ensure that Indigenous and visible minority students see themselves reflected in their school’s teaching staff (University of Winnipeg’s Access Programs, CATEP, ITEP, WEC).
  • Address areas of teacher shortage particularly French Immersion. Also this should include maintaining distinct support for the unique context of teaching in the French Immersion program.
  • Enhance the role of principals as principal teachers and instructional leaders. Restrict clinical supervision responsibilities to new teachers and those in difficulty. Maintain school leaders as members of the Manitoba Teachers’ Association.

Accountability for Student Learning:

  • Keep accountability and responsibility local. Ensure that schools establish processes to track, review and respond to student progress. Schools should know the progress being made by every student, know who is experiencing difficulty and why and should be responding to those students experiencing difficulty in a timely and effective fashion. Seven Oaks schools use regular classroom review meetings, IEP reviews, reviews of student report cards and reviews of provincial assessment data to achieve this.
  • Require school divisions to report annually, tracking trends in student outcomes over the past five years indicating where progress is being made and reporting on plans for improvement. Make these reports public.

Governance:

  • Maintain a governance structure that is local, elected and accountable. Amalgamations may be required in some circumstances, but amalgamation in and of itself is unlikely to produce either improvement in outcomes or cost effectiveness.
  • Encourage school divisions to review and renew programs, facility use and patterns of school organization. Such reviews and reorganizations have greater potential to improve programming and limit costs than division amalgamations.

Funding:

  • Correct the gross inequities in mill rate and cost per pupil by strengthening the equalization provisions of education funding. Excluding Frontier School Division and DSFM which are unique, cost per pupil ranges from $11,074 to $16,028. Mill rates range from 7.7 to 21.4 and there is no correlation between expenditure and mill rate. This is unfair to both students and taxpayers.
  • Eliminate or control costs to parents. Seven Oaks has managed to eliminate costs to parents for field trips, lunch supervision and musical instrument rentals and has greatly reduced the cost of school supplies through bulk purchasing. These measures save parents an estimated $740 per child per year and remove substantial barriers to participation. The provision of musical instruments increased enrolment in high school band programs by as much as 50%.
  • Challenge school divisions to direct a greater percentage of their budgets to the classroom. Seven Oaks directs 82.4% of its budget directly to the classroom. The provincial average is 78.7%.

Brief 22

Date Received: 5/28/2019

Name: Kelli Riehl

Organization: Swan Valley School Division

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief:

  • Merriam-Webster defines education as “the action or process of educating or of being educated” and “The knowledge and development resulting from the process of being educated.” The importance of this definition is that the word process is used in both. In discussions surrounding our K-12 Public Education System, this key word emphasizes the need to look at our system in terms of addressing the needs of society as whole, right down to the needs that individual families feel need to be addressed as well. This process needs to take into account a child’s development from the very earliest of years right to young adulthood when traditional ‘schooling’ has ended, and the young adult is entering their next phase of life.
  • In the end, the process needs to produce contributing members of a democratic society. Students are prepared with the academic and cognitive skills required to move on to any type of post-secondary training, technical skills to be able to directly enter the workforce, as well as the soft skills required to ensure that these young citizens can navigate their environment, work well with others and achieve their own goals.
  • The education system of the future must be adaptive to a rapidly changing world through technology and innovation. The economy must play an important part in the long-term vision as we must consider what skills and abilities are needed for our youth to become productive members of society. Through our experience, when families were asked what they want from their school for their children, the answer is almost always framed in terms of how they were prepared for life after school. Families do not comment on reading and writing scores, they comment on how their children are being prepared for work and life.
  • In the Swan Valley School Division we have been able to identify need and meet those challenges for decades. Local decision makers were able to recognize the need for vocational training in our area and those needs have been filled. The main industries in our area are agriculture and forestry. Our Division has been able to provide the following vocational opportunities to fill training needs: Power Mechanics; Heavy Duty Mechanics; Welding; Environmental Management; Business and Marketing; Information Technology; and Electrical Trades Technology. Not to be forgotten are the following programs: Hairstyling; Family Studies; Visual Communication; Culinary Arts; Health Care Aide; and Carpentry.
  • We are a School Division of just over 1400 students and we are able to offer thirteen technical/vocational programs. Through partnerships with post-secondary, our facilities are now being used for adult programming. None of this would have been possible without local decision making. Effective governance can only be possible when the governing body knows its public. Speaking from a rural perspective, local school boards know their public. They know their public because these Trustees live and work in their communities. They are parents, grandparents, business owners, involved community members, tax-payers but most of all they are concerned for the future of our youth, the future of their Division, and the future of Manitoba. School Board Trustees are not involved in the system because of the great pay, it’s because they care and have a valuable voice.
  • This Commission has the incredible opportunity to make Manitoba a world-wide leader in the field of Education. The Swan Valley School Division encourages you to consider taking the mantra “cradle to career” to heart, and consider the entire process of educating a student from the earliest of stages right through to young adult-hood. Hopefully the recommendations as outlined further will be able to assist you in your endeavours. We thank you for the opportunity to participate.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: From cradle:

  • Begin by changing legislation to make education compulsory from age five. The most crucial years are the early formative stages which by age seven (the current compulsory age) have all ready passed. By providing all young learners the same access to the education system and the services that are provided, the earlier intervention will reap many rewards.
  • Services must be shared between Health Regions and School Divisions. Having Speech Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Social Work, and Mental Health Services shared between the two entities would not only provide greater access to service but make recruiting and retention of qualified personnel much easier in rural Manitoba. A part of this shared service agreement must include the sharing of information. As mentioned in our presentation to the Commission in Dauphin on May 11, access to information is an issue. The Department of Health must be able to communicate more freely with School Divisions to allow Divisions to contact all families of young learners to begin building relationships to better prepare children for school.

To career:

  • Emphasis needs to be placed on career exploration, curriculum needs to be relevant to today's world and career education needs to be mandated. Technical/Vocational programming in this area is key.
  • We feel that in order to maximize resources and offer students exceptional technical/vocational opportunities, the Department should consider the potential of SVSD being a vocational training centre for a large area. The addition of a students residence, changing the school year to allow students to attend classes while still having plenty of time to be at home with their families, and the encouragement of the Department of Education and Training for students to explore technical and vocational programs would help countless students with career exploration, as well as save the Department money by using facilities that all ready exist.
  • For students in rural Manitoba, a program to give students the opportunity to learn urban living skills must be created and funded by the Province. For too many of our youth, the only experience they will have in an urban area is gained while on a school trip. It is very intimidating for a young citizen to leave their rural upbringing and move to a city. A program that would last a week or longer that would take groups to the city, to teach them how to use public transportation, fins an apartment, etc. would be life-changing for so many. Many First Nations schools have begun programs like this and have seen great success.

Student Learning:

  • If Government is truly serious about raising test scores, worry about the lowest scoring demographics. Poverty reduction strategies must be devised and implemented. We must strive to ensure that all students can enter the school system close to the same level of readiness, and that families have the support systems required to ensure their needs are fulfilled for their best chance of success. A true commitment by all levels of Government is necessary. Those who feel that certain lower test scores show that we have a broken education are system are very wrong. It is our society that is broken when we know so many do not have their basic needs met, the school system has become the 'catch-all' for children in poverty. Our system is presently not designed or funded to provide the supports they need.
  • Cycles need to be broken. All students in grade 9 should be required to take a course on family studies which includes parenting skills. Positive parenting skills and early childhood development should be taught to our youth before they begin to have families of their own. The Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) is an effective program that could be used as a foundation.
  • Mental health education must become a priority. We have only begun to address the mental health crisis that affects so many. Mandatory instruction on this issue should happen, being integrated through curriculum starting as early as Kindergarten. Much focus has been placed on teaching youth to have a healthy body, the same needs to be done to teach them to have a healthy mind.
  • There must be one universal student data management system for students in Manitoba. One system needs to be developed to track a student's attendance, IEP, literacy/numeracy data, grades, etc. This data would be easily accessible by any school that the child may attend in the Province.
  • Data management systems should also track students for a period of three or four years after graduation. Tracking should also extend into the workplace to measure career success, and community involvement as a measure of citizenship growth.
  • A mandatory high school credit should be earned in the area of volunteer and community service work; many students simply are not given the opportunity to learn the value of being a volunteer. Preferably, the credit would be earned outside of the school day, however in extenuating circumstances allowances will be to be made for students to volunteer during school hours.
  • Digital citizenship education must be provided by Divisions and integrated across all curriculum. The online world is only going to become more integrated into our daily lives. We must not try to control students' usage of devices and technology; we must teach them to use it effectively.
  • Students leaving grade twelve must be able to compose and communicate effectively, including word processing skills, and using the medium of the day.

Teaching: High quality professional development is necessary. Many rural school divisions rely heavily on the Manitoba Rural Learning Consortium’s professional development opportunities. Their services are cost effective and very high quality, which is resulting in an increasing number of requests that the group is starting to have difficulty fulfilling them all. Funding for mRLC from the Province should be increased as they would like to provide services to Northern Divisions but do not have the capacity to do so.14 Finally, their methods should be used as a sustainable model for not only professional development, but educational research as well.

  • As important as having well trained teachers is, the role of the Education Assistant must also be recognized as having great importance as these employees are tasked to work with the students with the greatest of needs. The Department needs to closely examine this part of the system, and at creating an accessible program for Divisions to use to train EA personnel to work effectively with those with the greatest of need.

Accountability for Student Learning:

  • Outcomes rely on opportunity. As part of equal opportunity, we must recognize that there are great gaps in connectivity within our Province. The Province must make it a priority to ensure that cell service and high-speed internet is available, at a reasonable cost, to ALL areas of the province.
  • Students, families, employee groups, management, school boards, and the Provincial Government need to be able to have constructive methods of communication to build a relationship based on mutual understanding and respect. All play an important part in the success of our students, and students learning will only improve when all parties are seen as important parts of an educational team focusing on the needs of children. Government needs to treat all groups as true partners. Collaboration is the key to success.

Governance:

  • A governance structure that can provide the flexibility to meet the diverse needs of students across our Province. Local governance provides our communities that flexibility. It also provides our communities easy access to provide feedback and express concerns, create partnerships, and frequent consultation opportunities for communities to feel a part of their education system. Our communities want to be involved in their education system as they have a vested interest in ensuring their children get the best possible education as they know education prepares our young people to be future contributing members of their community and society as a whole. Best governance is one that knows its public, knows what is going to work, and what is not, instead of trying to make everyone equal under the same model. The Swan Valley School Division has a proven record of being able to respond to community and Provincial needs from the days of small, one room country schools being closed to create schools in larger towns with an accompanying transportation system, to the construction of the impressive Swan Valley Secondary School, to the introduction of full-time Kindergarten to the most recent Heavy Duty and Trades Buildings being built by the High School to create a campus-like atmosphere for our students.
  • We feel very strongly that democratically elected school boards are an important part of our educational system.We feel very strongly that democratically elected school boards are an important part of our education system. We are unsure what is the right number of school boards, but do know that many communities fear losing their local school board. Decisions hopefully will not be made looking for cost savings as history has shown this is not the case. What makes sense in one area of Manitoba is not necessarily a good fit for another area, for example determining that all school divisions should have at least ten thousand students would look very different in various parts of the Province. Geography is an important factor. Ease of accessibility to various regions must also be considered in regards to geography. For example, it is a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Winnipeg to Swan River and we have no air service. It is very difficult to access the Swan Valley efficiently. Travel is difficult and there is always a huge loss in productivity due to travel time.
  • A school system can be most effective when all stakeholders have ownership. The Government, School Boards, administration, teachers, support staff, families, and students should be continuously working together, seeing each other as valuable members of our educational system. Consultation, as you are aware, is a great deal of work. If done well however, the benefits speak for themselves. We hope that an outcome of this review is that more public consultation becomes the norm, before any major decisions are ever made. Effective governance can only be possible when the governing body knows its public.

Centralization is not the answer.

Funding:

  • Existing vocational programming needs to be protected. With recent and upcoming budget cuts many vocational programs have either been eliminated or are the verge of being eliminated. If these programs are all ready in existence (SVSD has not made cuts to technical-vocational programming, yet) the Department needs to consider geography and distance to other centers, and community need funding before funding restrictions are considered.
  • Partnerships with Post-Secondary are crucial in maintaining viability in many rural areas where enrolment is declining. The Swan Valley School Division values our partnership with University College of the North. It is because of this partnership that we recently built out Trades Building which has the capacity to house Carpentry, Industrial Electrical and Plumbing Programs as well.

To ease the burden of increasing numbers of students entering the system without having thorough screenings done, Public Health should be used as a means to ensure all three-year old learners have been screened, and if needed, referred to the appropriate clinician for assistance using direct one-on-one interventions.

  • We must also recognize that there may be situations where services may be offered but due to circumstance, families may not be able to access the available services. Sometimes the greatest service that be provided is to go to the family, or at least make sure transportation is not a barrier for those who need help the most. There is no doubt that dollars spent on early intervention pay off in the future. Having the monetary resources available to provide these services is one issue, however in rural Manitoba the lack of qualified professionals available proves to be an obstacle as well.
  • A positive step that has been taken in SVSD, in partnership with Community groups and assistance from the Provincial Government, is the creation of daycare programs in every school in our Division. With the problem of declining populations and student enrollment in rural Manitoba and their associated Divisions, daycares in schools not only helps create an earlier bond between family and school, but saves money by using space that is readily available in many rural school. A final benefit is that families can support the communities that they live in which boosts their local economy. Jobs are kept local and money is spent locally. SVSD strongly encourages the Provincial Government to motivate community groups and School Divisions to form partnerships to create daycares in schools. The benefits are endless.
  • Communities need to make use of the resources they have available. Throughout the Province there is one resource that is found in every corner but is not used nearly enough. That is resource is our precious senior citizens. We feel the Province should be encouraging seniors by offering tax incentives, to volunteer to act as ‘grandparents’ in schools.
  • Centralization of funding is not the answer. Autonomy must be preserved to best meet local needs.

Brief 23

Date Received: 5/28/2019

Name: Jennifer Fisher and Jackie Ogloza

Organization: Manitoba Network for School OT/PT

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Funding

Brief: Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy Help Children Succeed at School

The Manitoba Network for School OT and PT (previously called School Therapy Interest Group) was created by OT and PT school based clinicians over 20 years ago to help support other OT/PT clinicians throughout the province learn about resources, guidelines, best practice and research and provide a forum for sharing and networking. This volunteer based group continues to be run at the grassroots and hosts meetings 3 times per year to continue this great work. We also have a forum on Mapleforem.

Occupational therapy is a profession in which therapists help individuals to do and engage in the specific activities that make up daily life. For children and youth in schools, Occupational Therapists provide support to ensure that students can participate all the school activities. Occupational therapists don’t just focus on the specific problem that a child’s disability may present; looking at the how whole child, the individual tasks, and the environment are helping or hindering students. OT’s work with students, families and school teams to find ways for the child to do the things they need and want to do.

Physiotherapy is a profession in which therapists have a significant role in health promotion, treatment of injury and disease as well as improve individual’s movement. For children and youth in schools, Physiotherapists provide support to ensure students are able to participate to the best of their ability and obtain and/or maintain their highest level of functional independence in their school environment and education. Through a needs based service delivery model, physiotherapists’ scope of practice is to develop and refine fundamental gross motor skills; facilitate participation in physical education class and recess; assist with equipment needs; provide assistance with accessibility and safety; and collaborate and consult with the school team, family, and outside agencies.

The fields of occupational therapy and physical therapy work collaboratively, and while both roles help individuals perform everyday tasks as independently as possible, one main difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy is that PT typically target interventions towards improving skills (strength, balance, range of motion) to facilitate body movement and support development or adaptations for gross motor skills. OT intervention tends to be more broad, with a focus of supporting children to successfully perform daily activities through skill development or adaptations (e.g. fine motor, problem solving, self-regulation, memory, organization, social skills, routines, etc.)

School-based OT and PT helps children succeed! Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists bring many skills and strengths to the educational team and aim to help students perform particular tasks necessary for participation in learning.

  1. To be an engaged learner, a child must be regulated. When a child experiences stress for a variety of reasons (biological, social, emotional, cognitive or pro-social reasons), they become dysregulated and unavailable for learning. Signs of dysregulation can show up in behaviour, mood, attention and physical well-being. Dr. Stuart Shanker states, “One of the challenges of education is that a certain amount of stress is normal and positive. The question is how to reduce the stressors that are not helping the child” (www.self-reg.ca) while also building the skills a student needs to persevere. Occupational Therapists can provide consultation about how classroom design affects attention, and support the understanding of stressors on learner, identifying when students are dysregulated and implementing school-friendly self-regulation strategies to support students to be engaged and ready to learn. Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists can also provide physical activity that has proven to decrease the stress response and increase mental health. This can become a long term regulation strategy that helps grow healthy minds and bodies.
  2. The Accessibility for Manitobans Act calls on public sector organizations to demonstrate leadership in addressing accessibility barriers in policies and practices. Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists have extensive training and experience in understanding and creating accessible environments. Some school divisions have added OTs and PTs to their Facilities and Operations Committees as they have recognized the added value of the knowledge and experience these clinicians add, as well as their lens with student’s needs and performance. By working together, we can ensure that all our education facilities and policies are consistently accessible to all, whether for physical access of buildings, meaningful engagement in activities, safety in emergencies (e.g. use of evacuation sleds), inclusive (e.g. washrooms that are gender neutral and/or physically accessible), and ensure funds are used effectively (e.g. creation of grooming rooms).
  3. Thousands of students in Manitoba are transported to and from school daily on a school bus and OTs and PTs can work collaboratively with the Transportation Department to ensure that all students are safely transported, and problem solve together when challenges arise and find solutions that fit each students’ individual needs, whether due to physical disabilities (e.g. safe use of tie down straps for wheelchairs), or safety of children with challenging behaviours (e.g. children with ASD; use of lap belts or 5 point harness).
  4. Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists can support children in crisis situations in safe and respectful ways (such as through Low Arousal approaches) through understanding the root causes of a student’s needs, while working proactively with school teams to develop safe, child-centred supports, while keeping everyone safe and ensuring that calming spaces or other strategies are being used appropriately. In addition, OTs can support classroom teachers and administrators in creating safe, positive learning environments with classroom sensory tools and set-up of the classroom environment. We need to reduce injuries in our schools for students and teachers. By including OT on the team, children can be supported so that injuries are reduced and a child can grow with dignity and build the skills to thrive.
  5. The newcomer population in Manitoba continues to grow, and many students are entering our schools with immense physical and/or emotional challenges that have not previously identified or supported. OTs and PTs are available to provide support regarding accessibility, physical supports, equipment needs, and connecting with additional supports in the community. Additionally, OTs and PTs can work with school teams to ensure adequate environmental supports are in place to provide safe learning environments for children how have experienced significant traumatic events.
  6. Occupational therapists and physiotherapists work together with early years teachers and resource teams, providing early intervention in basic self-care and motor skill development which ECDI results have indicated are extremely low throughout the province. Data from 2017 indicates that 25% of students in Manitoba are not ready in terms of their fine and gross motor skills. By providing Tier 1 intervention in classrooms, working with classroom teachers and early learning consultants we can support improved student outcomes by providing students the opportunity to gain the foundational skills they need to be able to learn educational outcomes. Therapists are able to provide the tools and assist teachers to encourage their students to be more physically literate, engaging in motivation and confidence as well as physical competence and the knowledge and understanding of the importance of keeping all children physically literate to remain engage in their environment.
  7. Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapists truly value the opportunity to be part of school divisions and recognize the importance of being a collaborative member of school teams, working together with teachers, administrators, consultants, and other clinicians. We would love to see the opportunity for all clinicians to have the opportunity to ensure more consistency in service delivery of OT and PT services across the province, as well has have the opportunity to ensure there is support available to continue to work collaboratively with other clinical services.
  8. Supporting Inclusive Schools: A Handbook for Resource Teachers in Manitoba Schools (2014) was created by Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning as a support document intended for Resource Teachers and other educators to support the diverse learning needs of Manitoba’s students. The Service Delivery Models as reviewed in the Supporting Inclusive Schools document encourages Manitoba’s philosophy of inclusion. These Service Delivery models are the (i) consultative-collaboration model (ii) co-teaching model (iii) response to intervention model and (iv) universal design model. This is the time to think critically about the necessary intersection of education and clinical services, in particular the inclusion of Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy within each school division in Manitoba. Currently, OTs and PTs in the school setting deliver services from the four Service Delivery models mentioned above. For example, the Response to Intervention (RTI) model has three tiers of intervention that represents a continuum of services. The tiers increase in intensity as a response to the needs of the students. OTs, PTs and school teams need to work closely together within all three levels of tiered intervention in order to attempt to meet the needs of all students and support equity in educational opportunities and improve overall learning outcomes.
  9. A multifaceted approach is needed within the educational context to maintain an adequate level of supports for students and school staff. A holistic approach becomes increasingly important when working with all schools who are supporting Indigenous students and recognizing Indigenous ways of knowing. The ultimate goal is to be able to provide holistic services, and to increase the cultural appropriateness of educational and clinical services delivered to Indigenous students. As clinicians in Manitoba, we would like to see equity in outcomes and increase meaningful participation in every school and community. The intersection of education and OT and PT services on a systems level is essential to shape the conversation about improving student outcomes and supporting success for all.

The purpose of school-based Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy is to help children succeed. Within their own individual scopes of practice, OTs and PTs support the development of foundational skills, adapt the learning environment and work collaboratively with school teams, to help ensure students are able to perform at their best, improving educational outcomes.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning:

  1. Utilize a 3-tiered model to deliver Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy service to schools. This model demonstrates the unique value of the OT and PT in contribution to education and learning, emphasizing collaboration, early intervention and inclusion. This model requires more OT and PT services across the province as it is time and energy intensive. It is important to ensure an adequate number of OTs and PTs to provide reasonable work loads and necessary time in schools to contribute to education and learning. Emphasizing collaboration, early intervention and addressing student learning needs (Tier 1 or Tier 2) is essential before a student gets too far behind or needs to be referred to specialized services (Tier 3). This will strengthen the preventative and proactive components of the entire education system, and has been shown to be a cost-effective method of using school-based occupational therapists and physical therapists while impacting the greatest on student growth and engagement.
  2. Increase the number rehabilitation assistants to support small group or individualized interventions. The use of rehabilitation assistants (under the supervision of OT or PT) can be used as an alternative to educational assistants. Rehabilitation assistants (RA) receive education and training in physical and mental health challenges, understand the underlying factors and safety skills required when working with children. Utilizing rehabilitation assistants as an alternative to educational assistants, can reduce the amount of time PT or OT are required to provide training because they come with a strong foundation of knowledge in areas such as: lifts and transfers of students with mobility challenges, running small group interventions or providing individual intervention in Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy or Speech and Language Pathology. Through the use of RA's, clinicians to provide targeted and classroom based interventions more regularly and more effectively, thus impacting on student growth and success.

Teaching:

  1. Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists should be employed by the school divisions to provide seamless and inclusive service. OT and PT have a unique skill set. They can work through the healthcare system within a team to provide wheelchairs, home access, developmental skills and many other benefits. However, schools are unique environments and it very valuable for clinicians to be able to work within this environment to help teachers and students as much as possible. They can combine their knowledge of development and health needs while looking at the school day and activities so that the recommendations and program are inclusive and best meet the child’s needs. They can provide more classroom support and collaboration to be able to target all children to develop their motor, social and life skills through play or other developmentally appropriate activities. When OT and PT are employed through the school division they can also be a resource for the school division when implementing new programs or providing learning opportunities (ei., PT’s working with physical education teachers to create a physical literacy program for all children with different physical abilities). Working within the school division provides more opportunities to work collaboratively with teachers through co-teaching, short term classroom interventions and ongoing networking through strong relationships.
  2. Utilize Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists to support safe, positive school and classroom environments through education, observation, collaboration and implementation of practical tools and strategies. These include: creating regulation plans and daily plans, sensory hallways, self-regulation supports and tools, movement breaks, classroom set up and environmental supports, and proactive crisis management to decrease stress and improve student attention and engagement. Student and adult safety is of the utmost importance. OT and PT have unique knowledge to be able to help students with developmental or neurological differences remain safe in our busy schools. Through their knowledge, OT and PT can train staff to remain safe during transfers, physical care, transitions or in daily routines. OT’s can also support staff to help children stay safe at school during moments of crisis (such as self-injurious or aggressive behaviour due to dys-regulation, stress or other complex factors).

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding:

  • Implement systemic changes to enable occupational therapists and physical therapists to provide equitable services to children across Manitoba. No matter where a child lives, they need access to OT and PT assessment, consultation and ongoing programming (if required). Many OT and PT’s have 15 or more schools that they must travel to and provide support to. This limits their ability to connect with teachers in classrooms and provide meaningful intervention. OT and PT can be beneficial not only at a Tier 3 level for the most physically involved child, but can also provide support to all children at the Tier 1 level through classroom design, co-teaching (physical literacy programs, self-regulation and mental health programs and fine motor/writing activities) and collaboration with the classroom teacher. Time is required to establish effective, collaborative team relationships with educators through regular and frequent collaboration to provide support and implement programs. When all children have access to OT and PT in the school systems of Manitoba they will be on a more equal footing as they grow and develop.

Brief 24

Date Received: 5/28/2019

Name: John R. Wiens

Organization: N/A

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: FOR THE LOVE OF CHILDREN AND THE WORLD*

SUBMISSION TO THE MANITOBA EDUCATION REVIEW COMMISSION
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY*

I thank the Manitoba Education Review Commission in advance for their willingness to be part of the renewal of our educational dialogue for the sake of our children and our world. The importance of the role of public education in the continuous re-creation and sustaining of our democracy cannot be overstated. Both are at risk if we do not consciously commit ourselves as citizens to the task of endlessly nurturing the public dialogue which makes both education and democracy even thinkable.

I often refer to Manitoba as a little “island of freedom” in the Canadian political, economic and educational landscape. In Manitoba politics, we “wobble about the middle,” mostly avoiding extreme ideological swings and the polarizing rhetoric which often accompanies them. Similarly, our economy, while not always as robust as we would wish it to be, has not been subject to stark “boom and bust” cycles. Our citizens generally accede to the whims of government with relatively little rancor or dissent. In education we have avoided, partially because of legislation but also because of general good will, the work disruptions which have plagued many other jurisdictions. Further, there is and has been a minimum of interorganizational conflict. While we might wish to “perseverate on our woes,” we Manitobans live in a special place which should give us pause about making abrupt, arbitrary changes to our educational relationships, structures and programs.

The review purports to be about “improving student outcomes, ensuring long-term sustainability, and enhancing public confidence in Manitoba’s K to 12 education system.” The first has been the one constant in the education community dialogue; the second is more a question of moral acknowledgment and political will; and, the third has more to do with governmental rhetoric influencing “public” opinion than with thoughtful antipathy.

1. Long-term Vision
(What should the goals and purposes of K to 12 education be in a rapidly changing world?)

We would do well to remind ourselves that schools are a reflection of society more than society a reflection of schooling. We cannot expect the school system to fix itself in areas where society is “broken.” Teachers, by and large, teach what society believes to be important or, in other words, what the world is like as opposed to how it should be. The point is to respect the sophistication of children and young people enough to seek understandings of the adult world, or the world we adults have created, for the sake of figuring out how to make it better when they assume adult responsibilities. I do wish the Commission would have sought more direct input from parents and caregivers because, in one sense, they have more immediately at stake in education.

No matter how quickly the world is changing, particularly technologically, helping prepare our children to take their rightful place as adults participating in democracy, in a global, capitalistic economy and in their increasingly diverse communities remain the major purposes of education and schooling. As for the goals of schooling our current societal challenges need to be in the background of everything we do in schools.

As suggested, the industrial model of schooling may have outlived its efficacy. However, to depart from deeply-engrained concepts like compulsory school entry ages, lock step Grades levels, success based upon tests using grade levels norms, and notions like readiness and time to completion based on age would require nothing short of an organizational revolution requiring unprecedented adaptation and acceptance. Recent Finnish initiatives might prove informative if we are seriously considering changing the way we arrange school programming, relationships and notions of success, including the reducing of existing societal inequities.

Our young should understand what has brought us to where we are and what we adults are trying to do about the following (in no particular order and by no means, conclusive): Indigenous reconciliation and retrieval; environmental reclamation; diversity/newcomer appreciation; child protection; global and local economic disparity; meaningful democratic engagement; and, the ethical use of social media. In addition, they will need to learn how to deal with the impact and consequences, good and bad, of artificial intelligence. Most of all we need to re-emphasize what it means to be human in a world among other humans – self-regulating individuals in a self-governing democracy. Very tall orders!

2. Student Learning
(What are the conditions required to achieve excellence in student achievement and outcomes in Manitoba?)

At the heart of excellence in student achievement is the child-adult relationship both inside and outside schools. Philosophically, excellence in achievement is always a matter of the several inter-related factors: judgment based upon admirable and desirable public norms, children’s capabilities, children demonstrating their best regarding the matter at hand and adults modelling their best behaviours appropriate to the situation at hand.

Perhaps we have achieved as much “excellence” as we can under the current school structures and theoretical educational regimes, a system which leaves a considerable number of our children on the outside and alienated from their schooling.

For children, the judgment of achievement is best made by the people closest to them – people who help create safe spaces for children to make mistakes and adjustments, who are sensitive to their prior achievements, their innate and learned capacities, their mental states and motivations, and who understand how to nurture and encourage movement toward the desired ideal.

Current models of determining human achievement are woefully inadequate and, indeed, often discouraging greater achievement. We now know that education is a lifelong achievement and, thus, as early childhood educators have shown us, should begin at or even prior to birth. However, current technologies in responsible hands could enable us to track the achievements of children/adults from cradle to grave without being inappropriately intrusive. With the help of parents and teachers, we can track children’s/adults’ abilities to adapt, associate, demonstrate individuality, affiliation and altruism, the capabilities required to live full, healthy, contributing lives. Failing to change our attitudes toward judging achievement is probably the greatest deterrent to educating humanely which currently exists.

3. Teaching
(How can teachers and school leaders become more effective?)

Ironically, this question has less to do with credentials, professional standards, teacher supervision, the role of technology than it has with the principal-teacher-parent-child relationship. For clarification, we should remind all adults that, whenever they are in the presence of children, they are their teachers.

Having said that I do believe there are certain shortcomings in the way we “educate” teachers. Given the nature and significance of their work on behalf of all of us, I believe that internships and residencies prior to certification as we currently support in medicine, would greatly enhance the profession in terms of responsibility to people entering it and teacher candidates’ commitment to, and understanding of, the demands of teaching. Perhaps they would also encourage greater mobility and support to areas of the province which, under current practices, have trouble attracting and retaining teachers.

Finally, we might in Manitoba stand out in Canada by following some of the lessons learned from Finland, namely: more rigorous screening to enter teacher training; greater emphasis on teacher collaboration both pre- and in-service; governmental recognition and reinforcement of the significance and value of teaching for the well-being of society; and less emphasis on International tests than on authentic student achievement. The work of teachers is valued and no one would think of making changes in education without their participation and leadership.

4. Accountability for Student Learning
(How can the education system develop a stronger sense of shared accountability for student learning?)

We know how not to do this, which is by setting people against each other and emphasizing personal and organizational interests over educational ones.

A good starting point would be declaring out loud that we enjoy being adults in this world, and we feel blessed to have the responsibility of educating children. Just like education requires all of them to be included and respected, society and government works best when we include and respect everyone even in our times of deepest disagreement. Education is intended not only as a personal achievement, but also a societal one – not only a private matter, but also a public one.

And we take it personally if anyone is left out, discredited or treated unjustly.

5. Governance
(What type of governance structures are needed to create a coordinate a relevant education system?)

Education is a home fed, home grown activity – it happens where children and young people live their lives so there needs to be a reasonable balance between a somewhat local and the provincial involvement. That balance can best be achieved by a respectful and representative dialogue between locally and provincially elected jurisdictions. While the Province may wish to redefine “local” through amalgamation, I believe it would not serve either the province or the school system to arbitrarily eliminate the local representation and quiet the local voice in education.

Education is at least as important as infrastructure and other community services, and in my view, having Boards of Trustees is just as important as having municipal councils. They both ensure a somewhat local voice on behalf of their constituents and, similarly, they were traditionally separated for very good reasons, one of which is to ensure that local resources are used in such a way as to meet and enhance both of their civic, but distinct, responsibilities in a reasonable, relevant and concerted way.

We could learn from the newly formed Manitoba First Nations School System that negotiated agreements with each “local,” however defined, makes for greater commitments to the whole and more harmonious relationships in the longer term.

6. Funding
(What actions are required to ensure that the education system is sustainable and provides equitable learning opportunities for all children and youth?)

It is clear at this point that this is more about moral commitment to our young and about political will than about ability to sustain. Recent polls suggest that education has always been an investment that citizens have been willing to make in their and society’s future.

Educators and the system have always “made do” with publicly determined resources, even while demand has always outstripped the resources provided. In that sense, the funding issue is a “red herring.”

Recent governments and tax-resisters have increasingly promoted the notions that citizens should be unwilling to financially support education at the current rates, that the education system is mainly an unfair personal expense at an inflated cost, education is mainly a private good and the people in the system self-serving and overpaid. None of these claims stand up to public scrutiny but they have become an accepted mantra which deserves to be challenged.

Similarly, the suggestion that eliminating school boards and system administrators, along with removing the ability of school boards to tax property locally, will save money in the long run is simply deceit. The case can be made that the financial oversight provided by trustees and system administrators is much more rigorous than that provided by centralized authorities, and at a lower cost. Furthermore, removing the school boards’ ability to tax property, as other provinces have done, also has reduced local authorities’ ability to relieve the consequences of societal inequalities.

Eliminating inequality may be an ideal but it will always remain a theoretical construct. There exists no funding formula that is considered fair and equitable. While equality remains a pipe dream, the reduction of the impact of inequality does not need to be. Local school systems have shown that they can respond to some the consequences of inequality in sustainable locally accepted ways, and that they can respond responsibly, quickly and directly.

*My recommendations are included in the more comprehensive response which accompanies this Executive Summary.

Respectfully
John R. Wiens

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: THAT THE COMMISSION RECOMMEND TO GOVERNMENT THAT THEY REAFFIRM, AND COMMIT THEMSELVES TO, THE PUBLIC PURPOSES OF EDUCATION AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND THEIR ROLE IN RENEWING DEMOCRACY.

Student Learning: RECOMMENDATION 2

THAT THE COMMISSION ENCOURAGE THE SCHOOL SYSTEM, REGARDLESS OF HOW ARRANGED AND ORGANIZED, TO EXPLORE AND ORGANIZE VISITATIONS, STUDENT EXCHANGES AND INTER-SCHOOL COLLABORATIONS LIKE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITES BETWEEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND FIRST NATIONS SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL SYSTEMS.

RECOMMENDATION 3

THAT THE COMMISSION SUPPORT THE RECOGNITION AND LEGITIMIZATION IN THE CURRICULUM OF LAND-BASED AND OTHER EXPERIENTIAL AND CULTURALLY BASED EDUCATION.

RECOMMENDATION 4

THAT THE COMMISSION OFFER ENCOURAGEMENT, SUPPORT AND VALIDATION TO SCHOOL SYSTEMS TO EXPERIMENT WITH OTHER CURRICULAR FORMATS LIKE CROSS-AGE THEMES AND TOPICS, COOPERATIVE LEARNING AND LEARNING IN DEPTH, AND OTHER STRUCTURES LIKE CHANGES IN THE SCHOOL YEAR LIKE YEAR ROUND SCHOOLING .

RECOMMENDATION 5

THAT THE COMMISSION RECOMMEND FURTHER STUDY OF CRADLE-TO -GRAVE EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT TRACKING AND THE ROLE OF PARENTS, CAREGIVERS, TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IN ITS IMPLEMENTATION.

Teaching: RECOMMENDATION 6

THAT THE COMMISSION RECOMMEND TO GOVERNMENT THAT IT INITIATE NEGOTIATIONS WITH FACULTIES OF EDUCATION, SCHOOL DIVISIONS, FIRST NATIONS AND MTS, MSBA AND MASS WITH A VIEW TO INTRODUCING AND IMPLEMENTING INTERNSHIP AND RESIDENCY PROGRAMS IN RURAL, NORTHERN AND FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES.

RECOMMENDATION 7

THAT THE COMMISSION RECOMMEND TO GOVERNMENT THAT IT INITIATE NEGOTIATIONS WITH FACULTIES OF EDUCATION, SCHOOL DIVISIONS, FIRST NATIONS AND MTS, MSBA AND MASS WITH A VIEW TO INTRODUCING MENTORSHIP PROGRAMS FOR ASPIRING AND NOVICE SCHOOL LEADERS.

Accountability for Student Learning: RECOMMENDATION 8

THAT THE COMMISSION RECOMMEND THAT THE GOVERNMENT DEVELOP AN ANNUAL REPORT ON EDUCATION INCLUDING THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION’S ACTIVITIES OF THE PAST YEAR AND PLANS AND PRIORITIES FOR THE NEXT AND RATIONALE FOR SAME.

Governance: RECOMMENDATION 9

THAT THE COMMISSION REAFFIRM THE VIABILITY OF, THE IMPORTANCE OF, AND THE ROLE OF LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS IN THE GOVERNANCE OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM IN MANITOBA.

Funding: RECOMMENDATION 10

THAT THE COMMISSION RECOMMEND TO GOVERNMENT THAT IT RE-CREATE THE INTER-ORGANIZATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION FINANCE WITH EXPANDED REPRESENTATION TO REGULARLY REVIEW THE EDUCATION FUNDING REGIME.

RECOMMENDATION 11

THAT THE COMMISSION RECOMMEND TO GOVERNMENT THAT THEY UNDERTAKE AN IN-DEPTH REVIEW OF TAXATION POLICIES AND PRACTICES.

RECOMMENDATION 12

THAT THE COMMISSION RECOMMEND TO GOVERNMENT THAT IT RENEW ITS COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION AS AN INVESTMENT AND TO THE PURSUIT OF REDUCING UNWARRANTABLE INEQUITIES.

Brief 25

Date Received: 5/29/2019

Name: Keith Murray, Superintendent

Organization: Prairie Spirit School Division

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Teaching

Brief: Teacher Mentorship Program

As our frontline professional staff, teachers are one of the biggest influencers of success for our students. We also acknowledge the critical role of parents as partners in our work with students.

Each year, we experience an attrition rate of approximately 10% of our teachers due to leaves, resignations and retirements. The onboarding of new teachers into our schools is an intensive process that requires extensive resources. In situations where a teacher is in his/her first year of teaching (approximately 80% of new hires) the responsibility for meeting the needs of students in any given school includes factors that are often unique to the local community and have not been explored in the pre-service teacher training period.

In Prairie Spirit School Division, some of the unique requirements and expectations for teachers include,
Multigrade classrooms
Teaching using video conference equipment
Hutterian students with both significant cultural and EAL factors
Engaging parents in an effective manner
Play-based and Maker approaches
Various Social-Emotional student needs
Supporting students who are living in poverty
Indigenous Knowledge
Responses to student data
Implementing the Foundation Math approach to numeracy.

We are recommending a revision to the current pre-service teaching experience occur at the universities and the Province supports a Division based mentorship program for new teachers. Due to the unique needs for teacher expertise in different areas of the Province, a one size fits all model would not be appropriate. As such, we would be in support of a mentorship model that was Divisionally based.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: The current five-week student teaching time that our new teachers experience may give them a window into the demands of teaching, but it does not adequately prepare them for the day to day reality of being a full-time classroom teacher. New teachers would benefit from a period of months when the teaching load would start on a partial basis and gradually increase to a full-time basis. When a new teacher does not have direct classroom responsibilities s/he would be involved in directed professional growth that supports the needs of students in the school(s).

Student Learning: During this mentorship time, the teacher is in an intense period of learning. The non-classroom time gives the teacher an opportunity to work under an established teacher which would result in
More consistent teaching practices within the Division
More versatility in practice and approach for the new teacher
An opportunity to develop professional and personal relationships with colleagues and students
An opportunity to experience the local culture and how to support students in that culture.

Teaching: Teaching is a profession and not just a craft or art. It requires intentional development, feedback and ongoing growth. The extended period of time, related to a mentor experience, would give new teachers the opportunity to develop their practice while being mentored by experienced teachers and principals. As life-long learners, the experience of starting a teaching career as a new learner is a powerful model for our students.

Accountability for Student Learning: There is significant contamination of accountability for student learning by perceptions that this accountability will be used as the evaluation tool of a teacher. The transition from the assessment of learning to assessment for learning requires a change in mindset, which requires time to develop. Once this approach is understood and used effectively, assessment of learning will become secondary and more of an evaluation of the education system, rather than the evaluation of a lone teacher.

Governance: There is a policy needed to support the inclusion of new teachers as a unique situation in collective agreements. Evaluation of the new teachers would be the responsibility of the school principal, rather than evaluations being contracted out as it is in the current system.

It is unclear at this time what the role of a teachers’ college would be in the mentorship of new teachers but we would welcome this discussion.

Finally, education faculties at our Manitoba universities need to be as responsive to the needs of their students and the future students of these teachers as they are to their tuition payments.

Funding: There is not a funding interest in this proposal, rather we are asking for the support to try new methods of developing and supporting our new teachers.

Brief 26

Date Received: 5/29/2019

Name: Jan McIntyre

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: New ideas for the Manitoba education system are needed and valuable. Change, when strategically undertaken, can be positive and invigorating, resulting in improvements in student learning. Enforced change without local consultation and without adequate rationale will bring resentment and lack of buy-in, ultimately hampering the overall goal of improving education for students. When considering change, it is equally important to celebrate and model the current successes in our system.

Local governance must remain.:

I have served our community as a school trustee in the Pembina Valley and Prairie Spirit School Divisions for 25 years. During that time, we have amalgamated school divisions twice, closed schools and reconfigured schools (all with strong community input), and in the process built a school division that is meeting the educational needs of the students we serve. Students are educated in their home communities, with bus times averaging one hour or less. Our cost per student is approximately average, our local education levy is significantly below provincial average, our graduation rate is above average, our Grade 12 math and language arts marks are consistently at or above average, our students are succeeding in their post graduation choices. Cross grade math and language arts assessments are provided much more frequently and comprehensively than provincial testing, with remedial action taken promptly to address learning deficiencies. High school courses, (core courses as well as optional courses) are provided through a blended learning system that utilizes technology to transmit curriculum, teaching, teacher-student contact time, tests, etc to both our public and Hutterian schools, with teachers moving between distance ed public schools regularly. Our communities are increasingly populated with local graduates returning to their home communities as professionals, trades persons and small business owners. Clearly, the educational system in Prairie Spirit works for students, graduates, and communities, and is an important part in the decision making of young adults as they choose where to live and raise a family.

Our communities are largely dependent on agriculture. As farms have increased in size, sparsity of population is our reality. Community members have consistently been clear that they cannot accept longer bus times for their children. Multi-grade classes in some of the early years classes has required special skills from our teachers, but has proven successful and is well accepted by parents. Distance education has been a part of education in our communities since the late 1990's. In 2011, with low high school numbers in many of our schools, a solution was needed. Manitoba Telephone Systems (the only major telecom at the time) were prohibitively expensive, and the province did not have adequate distance ed programs in place, or financial support to assist with distance learning. The board responded with a courageous $3 million investment (funded by a loan supported by the local levy) in a state of the art distance education and WAN system that met our needs of the day. With changing technology and increasing demands, the system is now utilized in a different way, but remains an integral part of our distance ed delivery. Furthermore, we have been able to utilize the WAN for bus radio communications (enhancing student safety) and phone service to our schools, transferring the savings to the classroom, as well as offer some PD and teacher conferencing over the distance ed system.

To address the problem of the teacher always being in one location with remote students always seeing him/her over the screen, a pod system of schools in similar geographic regions of the division (ie west, central, east) was developed, with the teacher moving between the schools in the pod. This allows for face to face communication between the student and the teacher during the course.

Communities take great pride in their schools, with community members often offering their time to participate in curricular and extra curricular activities that benefit students. The school is not just a school, but a multi purpose community building used outside of the school day. Schools in our communities are viewed as an important element in the community's social fabric as well as an integral part of the community's economy.

Community members are adamantly clear that they do not trust centralization, understood to be one or all of: the amalgamation of schools; massive school division amalgamation resulting in less local representation; or the loss of the school division entirely to be replaced by full provincial control. The public articulate dissatisfying experiences brought through centralization of other government departments (health care, highways, agriculture) and do not want that for education. Centralization of other government departments has left them with an overall loss of service. People feel excluded, devalued, and forgotten by centralized services, with no way to address concerns. A local school board with a proven track record of success, one that is trusted by the public they serve through a time tested record of consulting and inclusion of the public in the major decisions of divisional amalgamations, school closures and school re-configurations, is viewed as a valuable investment. It is important to our communities to have a board who are easily accessible and accountable to local people.

Prairie Spirit trustee indemnities are relatively low, with trustee costs amounting to 0.64% of the divisional budget. As part of the overall approach of community involvement in schools, it is important to view trusteeship as a community service carrying a relatively small indemnity. Trustees need to be compensated for their time and expenses, but it should not be viewed as a part time job. Instead, it is a position of trust by and from the communities the trustees represent.

Change can be positive and invigorating, resulting in enhanced learning for students:

Governance change, in the form of school division amalgamation in 1998 and 2002, was a healthy change for the former Pembina Valley, Tiger Hills and Mountain school divisions that now form Prairie Spirit. With community consultation, amalgamation became an opportunity to build a school division of similar sized communities and needs, one that would utilize the same resources to provide better services for students and supports for teachers. History has proven this to be true.

Practical lessons learned: Bringing two organizations together through amalgamation is a huge amount of work - this cannot be understated - and is therefore best done when all stakeholders (including the public) are in support of the concept. If the commission is considering school division amalgamation, it would be wise to consider meaningful educational incentives as a tool to entice reticent school divisions to amalgamate, rather than forcing amalgamation of unwilling parties. These incentives should also be made available to divisions who have already amalgamated, or are large enough that they provide needed services without amalgamation. In the period immediately prior to amalgamation, planning should include the intentional development of shared goals and the thoughtful development of a new organizational culture and vision so that the new group moves forward together. Land base matters - too large is difficult to manage (Prairie Spirit feels that our 5600 km land base is maximum), and allows communities to still maintain meaningful representation. Sharing services with neighbouring divisions (eg mRLC) provides opportunities for growth and PD available to larger divisions, without amalgamating.

Local taxes must remain local, for school boards to address local needs:

While the issue of high farmland taxes are a concern (but not part of this review process), landowners are clear that they want their taxes sent to their local school board and the decisions of how that money is spent, to be made locally. There is considerable local public distrust of a centralized model that would send taxes to Winnipeg.

Advisory councils have their place, but do not replace school boards. Advisory councils do not, by definition, either make decisions or spend money. Therefore, they are not accountable to anyone. Furthermore, advisory councils are only effective if they can convince the bureaucrat controlling decisions and money to follow their advice.

One size formulas cannot possibly meet the diversity of needs across this province. Staffing needs vary depending on class size and composition. Staffing formulas often do not work well for small schools. Funding must remain in the hands of local boards to address local needs that fall outside of common funding formulas.

Without the local levy and a school board in place to recognize and respond to local needs, Prairie Spirit would not have the distance ed system in place and students would not have had access to quality programming. The other available distance ed choices of correspondence courses, Web CT, broadcast TV and Teacher Mediated Option learning are grossly inadequate. The remaining option would be to close schools and bus students further, a choice that is detrimental to student learning and local communities, and is not viable, particularly given the distances involved.

Local school divisions, with the use of the local levy, are flexible and agile enough to address local needs in a timely fashion. Local levy funding has supported numerous Prairie Spirit learning programs and supports (maker space, graphic design, to name a few) that address local needs and situations, as well as enhanced student assessments in math and language arts and prompt remediation of learning deficiencies, something the province has been unable to do. These programs contribute strongly to enhanced student learning.

It has been said that change is the only constant in life. Prairie Spirit was formed through the courageous leadership of its founding boards seeking positive change through voluntary amalgamation. The resolute determination of succeeding boards to provide excellent learning opportunities for our students, continuously and creatively finding solutions to the challenges of distance and population sparsity, has continued to serve our students and communities well. Success stories such as that of Prairie Spirit need to be celebrated and modeled as examples of communities working together with a local board for common good. It is truly grassroots democracy in action.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision:

  1. All students graduate from their home communities well prepared to follow their post secondary career choices.
  2. Community schools work with parents in order to prepare students for the world they will graduate into.
  3. Children need to be literate, numerate, and critical thinkers.

Student Learning:

  1. Move data and information, not students. Utilize proven distance ed practices for small high schools.
  2. Maintain maximum 1 hr bus times.
  3. To enhance student -teacher communication in distance ed scenarios, organize classes into geographical groupings and move the teacher from location to location.
  4. Engaged communities are an important component of student learning. Schools are an important element of rural communities.

Teaching:

  1. To enhance student -teacher communication in distance ed scenarios, organize classes into geographical groupings and move the teacher from location to location.
  2. Multigrading of early years classes requires specialized teaching skills but is successful in achieving student learning.

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance:

  1. Local school boards provide a valuable role as the first level of democracy in our society and must remain in place. Local rural communities do not want a centralized education system.
  2. Local school boards serve as a cost effective investment to maintain local community input, accessibility and accountability to the local taxpayers and should remain an integral part of the education system.
  3. Local school boards have the flexibility and agility to address local student needs in a timely fashion and need to continue in that role.
  4. Advisory councils are not a substitute for school boards and should not replace school boards.
  5. Small, rural schools provide high quality education, offer opportunity for student engagement with the wider community, and should be maintained.
  6. School division amalgamation has a place and can have benefit for student learning if managed well. Amalgamation can offer the opportunity to build a school division of similar sized communities and needs, utilizing the shared resources of smaller divisions to offer enhanced supports for students and teachers. Amalgamation works best if all parties are willing participants.
  7. Many opportunities for learning, teacher PD, and shared projects can happen with school divisions working together, rather than amalgamating. A well respected example is the mRLC.
  8. Trusteeship is first and foremost a position of trust.

Funding:

  1. Local taxes must remain with local boards. Boards must have access to local funding to address local needs that fall outside of controlled program and staffing formulas.

Brief 27

Date Received: 5/29/2019

Name: Association of Music Administrators of Manitoba

Organization: Association of Music Administrators of Manitoba (AMAM)

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Association of Music Administrators Education Review Submission

“Music is vital to human life; no culture in the world exists without music. Music contributes to personal, social, economic, cultural, and civic aspects of people's lives. In cultures around the world, life's most important events—weddings, funerals, birthdays, graduations, religious holidays, and community occasions—are observed and celebrated through music.”
https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/arts/music/nature.html

Association of Music Administrators of Manitoba
The Association of Music Administrators of Manitoba (AMAM) is an organization that focuses on leading change in music education in Manitoba. It consists of representatives from Brandon University, the Canadian Mennonite University, the University of Manitoba, the Department of Education, the Manitoba Music Educators Association (MMEA), as well as, consultants and coordinators from various Manitoba School Divisions including:

  • Brandon School Division
  • Division scolaire franco-manitobaine
  • Louis Riel School Division
  • River East Transcona School Division
  • Seven Oaks School Division
  • St. James-Assiniboia School Division
  • Sunrise School Division
  • Evergreen School Division

The AMAM members meet regularly to discuss issues related to music education across the province in order to plan for supports for teaching and student learning. In addition, a yearly conference offers opportunities for all music educators and administrators to share, collaborate and plan for future growth. Recent conference topics have included:

  • Inclusive Practices in Education
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Creating a Culture of Creativity

Manitoba has some of the strongest music programs in the country. Ensembles from Manitoba have been recognized at National and International Festivals for their excellence in performance and musical expression. This is due in large part to music specialists in Manitoba classrooms, consistent support by administrators and other stakeholders, community leaders and politicians who understand the importance of music as part of a well-rounded education, despite recurring calls for a “back to basics” agenda.

The music education community in Manitoba communicates and collaborates in ways that are the envy of other jurisdictions. Organizations like AMAM and Manitoba Music Educators Association (MMEA) are able to provide a unified voice which speaks to the value of music education and the importance of continuing to support strong music programming in Manitoba schools.

Recommendation 1: Long-term vision
That the Government of Manitoba ensures equal access for all students to participate in Music and Arts experiences

It is important to support equitable access to music programs in every school and at every level of instruction. The goal of education is to provide students with the skills necessary to become active, contributing members of the community and to prepare them for success in the workplace or post-secondary education. Music and Arts education builds skills students will need to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and citizenship are important 21st century skills that are strengthened by involvement in music and arts education experiences. Research consistently shows that music and the arts improve literacy skills, engage learners and make them feel like they belong. A positive culture of learning creates an atmosphere where children grow and learn socially and emotionally. The body’s response to music demonstrates increased production of immunoglobulin, boosts endorphin levels, calms heart rates, improved immune responses, lifts self-esteem, reduces feelings of stress and symptoms of depression.

https://www.childrenschorusdc.org/news/2018/1/26/daniel-pink-praises-benefits-of-choral-singing-in-new-book

“Research suggests that music functions as a catalyst for cognitive skills and aspects of social-emotional development across disciplines, especially when conditions for transfer are optimized through teaching to principles and processes that engage and deepen learning across disciplines.”
Scripp, Lawrence. (2002). An overview of research on music and learning

Recommendation 2: Student Learning
That the Government of Manitoba supports Music Specialists in their programming for Indigenous, Immigrant and Children in Care

AMAM provides direction and vision for our Provincial and local music leaders to drive change. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, recent stats on immigration and data for children in care requires immediate and continuous action. AMAM strives to meet these challenges by supporting quality arts programming taught by music specialists from Kindergarten to grade 12.

The data collected from various Manitoba school divisions shows that at-risk students need supports in place in order to flourish in the education system. Meeting student needs in terms of quality music programming provides students with a sense of belonging and community. In numerous cases, these children can express themselves through belonging to choirs, bands, dance groups, musical theatre productions and visual arts programming.

Recommendation 3: Governance
That the Government of Manitoba supports funding for Divisional/District Consultants or Coordinators in the Arts.

The role of local music and arts consultant/coordinators is more important than ever as schools adapt their methods to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century while being fiscally responsible. Countless volunteer hours go into providing honour band and choir experiences, elementary music days and divisional events. It is essential that program support is offered locally at the administrative level in terms of Divisional Consultants and Coordinators to allow the following activities to continue:

  • assist teachers and administrators with program development and instructional skills by advising on the selection and application of appropriate instruction and performance materials
  • development of in-service training programs for teachers to share best practice and current exemplary pedagogy
  • assist and advise administrators and teachers with the preparation of budget recommendations for necessary instructional materials and equipment
  • participate in program evaluation by consulting with the school principal and the Superintendent’s department
  • prepare reports and use data to inform teaching and learning experiences
  • review current materials being published and advise teachers and administrators on the use and availability of such materials
  • advise on the establishment of pilot programs and to assist in the implementation of new curricula
  • plan and implement divisional (local) events for enrichment purposes
  • assist with the planning and implementation of extra-curricular activities (i.e. music festival, public performances, etc.)
  • assist the purchasing agent in drawing up specifications for all school musical instruments
  • help teachers integrate technology into their classroom and integrate the arts into core curriculum (STEAM)
  • coordinating the rotation and sharing of resources, and networks with industry to optimize the use of divisional funds with value for money and accountability.

In divisions and jurisdictions where consultant positions in the arts have been cut, programming has inevitably suffered. In the Winnipeg School Division, where the Arts Consultant position was cut, the above responsibilities have either been assumed by already overburdened teachers or not addressed at all in the division with our most at-risk student population.

Recommendation 4: Teaching
That the Government of Manitoba supports Music Programming by Music Specialists from Kindergarten to Grade 12

It is essential that music be taught by qualified music educators. Music education is a specialty area that requires specific expertise. Not only is it important for music teachers to be accomplished musicians themselves, but they must also have the pedagogical skills to be able to foster student learning.

One of the Manitoba Music Educator’s Association vision statements says, “We believe that music education should be taught by professionally trained, music educators with proficient knowledge and skills in the areas of music performance, pedagogy, and musicianship. We value, encourage, and promote ongoing professional development.”

According to a study conducted by the Coalition for Music Education in Canada, “Qualified music teachers are crucial in creating and implementing strong, sustainable music programs. Almost all schools with very strong music education programs have a specialist teacher.”
https://coalitioncanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/COALITION_ADelicateBalance_SUMMARY.pdf

We can no longer assume, as was once the case, that our students entering school have had experience singing and moving to music. The Early Development Instrument Data demonstrates that children have more of a sedentary lifestyle versus active play. Musical activities provide an opportunity for play-based learning that strengthens many academic skills, including literacy and numeracy. Music teachers who are well educated in music pedagogy support the many goals of education in intentional and sophisticated ways.

“Literacy is naturally developed through music. Within a safe, inviting environment with opportunities for play, children learn when they engage in playful musical activities. Rhythm and rhyme seem to magically increase learning and singing frequently provides an emotional hook that can engage students in learning routine facts.”
McIntire, Jean M.Teaching Music, v15 n1 p44 Aug 2007

Studies show that musical literacy and language acquisition occur simultaneously and support phonemic awareness, discrimination between similar auditory elements, speech signals, auditory memory, and more.

“With phoneme awareness, children will learn how sounds come together to form words, enabling them to make sense of the sounds that they hear. In music, this would translate to an awareness of pitches and how they form a musical line.”
https://www.luther.edu/oneota-reading-journal/archive/2012/learning-literacy-through-music/

Recommendation 5: Funding
That the Government of Manitoba provides adequate funding for Music and Arts Programming

Funding for vibrant arts programming must continue to be part of the budget. Music programs are complex and require healthy budgets to build programs, supply instrument inventory, and allow for repair costs. Teaching resources and repertoire are an investment in student learning that must be planned for and allocated appropriately in order to support opportunities for our students to excel.

The Consultant/Coordinator role is essential for optimizing the best use of funds. They work to improve school programs by ensuring students have access to instruments and equipment that work well over time with minimal repair to ensure student success. They have a long-term vision for program and school improvement by creating plans that span over several years. Consultants work with industry and use tenders and purchase in larger amounts to ensure best pricing. They also coordinate maintenance and repair programs to ensure the best price for the care and maintenance of equipment. Consultants also help teachers understand financial accountability through mentorship and guidance. In this time of fiscal responsibility, the consultant role is paramount in ensuring all students have access to quality music/arts education and programming by optimizing the best use of funds and resources and to make sure they are distributed equitably.

In conclusion, The AMAM organization continues to lead change in Music Education to ensure equity for all Manitoba children. The organization recommends:

  • Equal access for all students to participate in Music and Arts Experiences
  • Music Specialists deliver programming for Indigenous, Immigrant and Children in Care
  • Divisional Consultants/Coordinators in every Division/District
  • Music Programming by Music Specialist Kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Funding for Music and Arts Programming at every Manitoba School

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: Recommendation 1: Long-term vision
That the Government of Manitoba ensures equal access for all students to participate in Music and Arts experiences

It is important to support equitable access to music programs in every school and at every level of instruction. The goal of education is to provide students with the skills necessary to become active, contributing members of the community and to prepare them for success in the workplace or post-secondary education. Music and Arts education builds skills students will need to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and citizenship are important 21st century skills that are strengthened by involvement in music and arts education experiences. Research consistently shows that music and the arts improve literacy skills, engage learners and make them feel like they belong. A positive culture of learning creates an atmosphere where children grow and learn socially and emotionally. The body’s response to music demonstrates increased production of immunoglobulin, boosts endorphin levels, calms heart rates, improved immune responses, lifts self-esteem, reduces feelings of stress and symptoms of depression.

https://www.childrenschorusdc.org/news/2018/1/26/daniel-pink-praises-benefits-of-choral-singing-in-new-book

“Research suggests that music functions as a catalyst for cognitive skills and aspects of social-emotional development across disciplines, especially when conditions for transfer are optimized through teaching to principles and processes that engage and deepen learning across disciplines.”
Scripp, Lawrence. (2002). An overview of research on music and learning

Student Learning: Recommendation 2: Student Learning
That the Government of Manitoba supports Music Specialists in their programming for Indigenous, Immigrant and Children in Care

AMAM provides direction and vision for our Provincial and local music leaders to drive change. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, recent stats on immigration and data for children in care requires immediate and continuous action. AMAM strives to meet these challenges by supporting quality arts programming taught by music specialists from Kindergarten to grade 12.

The data collected from various Manitoba school divisions shows that at-risk students need supports in place in order to flourish in the education system. Meeting student needs in terms of quality music programming provides students with a sense of belonging and community. In numerous cases, these children can express themselves through belonging to choirs, bands, dance groups, musical theatre productions and visual arts programming.

Teaching: Recommendation 4: Teaching
That the Government of Manitoba supports Music Programming by Music Specialists from Kindergarten to Grade 12

It is essential that music be taught by qualified music educators. Music education is a specialty area that requires specific expertise. Not only is it important for music teachers to be accomplished musicians themselves, but they must also have the pedagogical skills to be able to foster student learning.

One of the Manitoba Music Educator’s Association vision statements says, “We believe that music education should be taught by professionally trained, music educators with proficient knowledge and skills in the areas of music performance, pedagogy, and musicianship. We value, encourage, and promote ongoing professional development.”

According to a study conducted by the Coalition for Music Education in Canada, “Qualified music teachers are crucial in creating and implementing strong, sustainable music programs. Almost all schools with very strong music education programs have a specialist teacher.”
https://coalitioncanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/COALITION_ADelicateBalance_SUMMARY.pdf

We can no longer assume, as was once the case, that our students entering school have had experience singing and moving to music. The Early Development Instrument Data demonstrates that children have more of a sedentary lifestyle versus active play. Musical activities provide an opportunity for play-based learning that strengthens many academic skills, including literacy and numeracy. Music teachers who are well educated in music pedagogy support the many goals of education in intentional and sophisticated ways.

“Literacy is naturally developed through music. Within a safe, inviting environment with opportunities for play, children learn when they engage in playful musical activities. Rhythm and rhyme seem to magically increase learning and singing frequently provides an emotional hook that can engage students in learning routine facts.”
McIntire, Jean M.Teaching Music, v15 n1 p44 Aug 2007

Studies show that musical literacy and language acquisition occur simultaneously and support phonemic awareness, discrimination between similar auditory elements, speech signals, auditory memory, and more.

“With phoneme awareness, children will learn how sounds come together to form words, enabling them to make sense of the sounds that they hear. In music, this would translate to an awareness of pitches and how they form a musical line.”
https://www.luther.edu/oneota-reading-journal/archive/2012/learning-literacy-through-music/

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: Recommendation 3: Governance
That the Government of Manitoba supports funding for Divisional/District Consultants or Coordinators in the Arts.

The role of local music and arts consultant/coordinators is more important than ever as schools adapt their methods to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century while being fiscally responsible. Countless volunteer hours go into providing honour band and choir experiences, elementary music days and divisional events. It is essential that program support is offered locally at the administrative level in terms of Divisional Consultants and Coordinators to allow the following activities to continue:

  • assist teachers and administrators with program development and instructional skills by advising on the selection and application of appropriate instruction and performance materials
  • development of in-service training programs for teachers to share best practice and current exemplary pedagogy
  • assist and advise administrators and teachers with the preparation of budget recommendations for necessary instructional materials and equipment
  • participate in program evaluation by consulting with the school principal and the Superintendent’s department
  • prepare reports and use data to inform teaching and learning experiences
  • review current materials being published and advise teachers and administrators on the use and availability of such materials
  • advise on the establishment of pilot programs and to assist in the implementation of new curricula
  • plan and implement divisional (local) events for enrichment purposes
  • assist with the planning and implementation of extra-curricular activities (i.e. music festival, public performances, etc.)
  • assist the purchasing agent in drawing up specifications for all school musical instruments
  • help teachers integrate technology into their classroom and integrate the arts into core curriculum (STEAM)
  • coordinating the rotation and sharing of resources, and networks with industry to optimize the use of divisional funds with value for money and accountability.

In divisions and jurisdictions where consultant positions in the arts have been cut, programming has inevitably suffered. In the Winnipeg School Division, where the Arts Consultant position was cut, the above responsibilities have either been assumed by already overburdened teachers or not addressed at all in the division with our most at-risk student population.

Funding: Recommendation 5: Funding
That the Government of Manitoba provides adequate funding for Music and Arts Programming

Funding for vibrant arts programming must continue to be part of the budget. Music programs are complex and require healthy budgets to build programs, supply instrument inventory, and allow for repair costs. Teaching resources and repertoire are an investment in student learning that must be planned for and allocated appropriately in order to support opportunities for our students to excel.

The Consultant/Coordinator role is essential for optimizing the best use of funds. They work to improve school programs by ensuring students have access to instruments and equipment that work well over time with minimal repair to ensure student success. They have a long-term vision for program and school improvement by creating plans that span over several years. Consultants work with industry and use tenders and purchase in larger amounts to ensure best pricing. They also coordinate maintenance and repair programs to ensure the best price for the care and maintenance of equipment. Consultants also help teachers understand financial accountability through mentorship and guidance. In this time of fiscal responsibility, the consultant role is paramount in ensuring all students have access to quality music/arts education and programming by optimizing the best use of funds and resources and to make sure they are distributed equitably.

Brief 28

Date Received: 5/29/2019

Name: Kim Standeven

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: It takes a village to raise one child and raising this child is complex, challenging and extremely rewarding. I am a mother of 2 daughters, a business owner, farmer and a newly appointed trustee in Oct 2018. I attended the new trustee orientation conference where I was in a room with hundreds of trustees from across the province. Are you aware that what you have available to you is one extremely engaged, diverse and passionate workforce? I worked in the corporate world for 13 years in HR, leadership development and creating mentorship programs. I currently coach and teach leadership and wellness programs. What I observed at the conference was the majority of the trustees want to be part of this dynamic system. Why would you set aside this resource? As a former HR professional finding and keeping engaged, passionate people is challenging. There are 200 trustees who want to be involved in making sustainable changes to the system. Your front line people are your biggest assets, put the call out and we will show up.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: As an experienced facilitator of groups of all sizes and expert in leading mission, vision and values work my suggestion is not to get too caught up in finding the perfect statement. The words on a piece of paper will mean nothing if the people who are doing the work on the front line didn't create it or have a stake in it.

Put your boards to work - have each division submit a long term vision. Get the students, teachers, resource staff, trustees, communities involved. Adopt an ask versus tell philosophy and you will be inspired by what is submitted. Create a standardized facilitators guide with key outcomes and let them go.

Student Learning: Adopt an ask versus tell philosophy for student learning. What is important to our kids? What skills do they feel they need. What support do they need? Each child is unique and I think with some powerful questions and listening our kids will tell us what needs to be nurtured based on their unique school experience.

Teaching: Adopt an ask versus tell philosophy. Our teachers are the experts, ask them and listen.

My dream is for my kids to go to a school where their teachers are capable of assessing their strengths and gifts. Please refer to the 9 intelligences by Howard Gardener which I refer to in my work as a coach and facilitator. What if our teachers and kids had more insight into their gifts/strengths and their education had some additional focus on the areas they excel at. This is what success means for me. https://blog.adioma.com/9-types-of-intelligence-infographic/

Accountability for Student Learning: Let's focus on exploring these questions first because from what I have experienced thus far the data we have been given has some major gaps.

What does it mean to be successful?
What does accountability mean for each group within the system?
How can we measure success in a way that represents the whole child?
Again, ask the experts. Give them the power and autonomy to assess and report back on successes.

Governance: I admit that the governance model isn't perfect yet I still think a locally elected board is valuable. Again, put 200 minds to work to find solutions based on what the commission feels is broken. Hold a region by region workshop to brainstorm ideas and solutions.

One area is each board has its own policy manual which I think makes sense for creating policy that reflects the issues in each division however, I do see there are areas of the manual that could be standardized to ensure consistency across the province.

Funding: There are always opportunities for continuous improvement and areas that can be streamlined. Funding is a complex and challenging topic because there is much that is not under our control. My suggestion may not be popular but must be said - what if the commission lobbied the government to implement an education investment on corporations within the province. There is currently 0% provincial tax for corporations and I am sure when you look at the number of corporations registered in the province it is no wonder why we don't have enough money. A .5% investment from corporations who make over 1M annually would make a huge difference. It is an investment in our future, our kids and it needs to be a priority for our government.

Brief 29

Date Received: 5/29/2019

Name: Anna Stokke and Robert Craigen

Organization: Western Initiative for Strengthening Education in Math (WISE Math)

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning

Brief: Anna Stokke is a Professor of Mathematics and Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Winnipeg. Robert Craigen is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Manitoba. In 2011, they co-founded the Western Initiative for Strengthening Education in Mathematics (WISE Math) to advocate for better K-12 math education for children in Canada. In addition to their scientific work, they have written numerous articles for newspapers across Canada and appeared many times on local and national television and radio to discuss math education in Canada. Stokke published a C.D. Howe commentary titled “What to do about Canada’s Declining Math Scores” (Stokke 2015), in which she made three recommendations for improving math scores in Canada. Our presentation will discuss these recommendations and others specific to Manitoba.

Mathematical performance has declined in Manitoba for 15 years, as evidenced in PISA and PCAP scores. Our PISA score in mathematics fell 39 points since 2003, which is the equivalent of about one year of schooling by OECD reckoning. Further, the lowest performing group of Manitoba students (essentially our mathematically illiterate) on PISA doubled since 2003, while those in the highest ranks (our future STEM leaders) halved.

Educational outcomes in Manitoba can be improved, but there is not a one-dimensional solution. To reverse this trend, we suggest three changes: a) revise the math curriculum and the instructional methods used to teach it, b) improve teacher training and licensing requirements in math, and c) better accountability measures in the education system.

The math curriculum and instructional methods:
a) Recommendations concerning the math curriculum: Math is cumulative by nature and requires hard work and practice to master. For example, before learning to multiply two-digit numbers, a student must be proficient with addition and times tables. Delaying important concepts in K-8 results in a packed high school curriculum and students who haven’t had enough practice to have sufficiently mastered concepts.

Our K-8 curriculum must be revised to focus on concepts that have been shown to correlate to later success in math. These concepts must also be introduced earlier. For example, student success with fraction arithmetic has been shown to correlate with later success in algebra, which is the gateway to learning higher-level math. Fluency with fractions is also important in many careers, including the trades. Yet addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of fractions do not appear in the Manitoba curriculum until Grades 7 and 8. In high-performing jurisdictions, students are required to master these skills no later than Grades 5 and 6.

Review of curricula from high-performing jurisdictions and surveys of introductory algebra teachers allowed the National Math Advisory Panel (NMAP), which was established in the US in 2008, to identify several key skills that are important for later success in mathematics. We agree with the NMAP’s concrete recommendations. The complete list, which includes recommended grade levels may be found in (Stokke, 2015, pp. 10).

Currently most of these key math concepts appear later in the Manitoba curriculum than the recommended grades, but historically Manitoba’s curriculum was in line with these recommendations. Some of these concepts were moved in the 1995 curriculum to later grades, then removed altogether in 2006. Times table memorization and the standard algorithms for arithmetic (addition with a carry, long division, etc.) were removed from the Manitoba curriculum in 2006 and then reintroduced in 2013. But they still appear too late in the curriculum.

b) Recommendations concerning instructional methods and teacher professional development: Ensuring that key concepts are taught at appropriate grades is imperative, but they must also be taught using effective teaching techniques.

Over eight years of involvement in math education advocacy, we have noticed a disturbing cycle. A common practice in Manitoba is for schools/divisions to hire expensive consultants to give teacher professional development (PD) on unproven fads. Resources based on ineffective methods are then purchased and teachers are encouraged to implement these methods in the classroom, resulting in more struggling students. This in turn increases the need for more PD and yet more expensive funding and resources.

Education research should be viewed with a skeptical eye. Although we have often been told that “research shows” certain fads are effective, this so-called research is often quite weak, and is contradicted by more rigorous, larger-scale studies.

An example is the push to use inquiry/discovery-based methods in the classroom (also called student-centred learning, discovery-based learning, experiential learning, 21st century learning, etc). Loosely speaking, these approaches focus on student-directed lessons instead of teacher-directed lessons. For example, inquiry-based lessons may focus on open-ended problems (e.g. told “the answer is 37", students must invent a suitable question instead of being given a specific question by a teacher) or students may be encouraged to invent their own methods for multiplication. In contrast, direct instructional techniques involve the teacher directly teaching and demonstrating concepts, followed by student practice.

Stokke’s CD Howe report recommends an 80/20 rule of thumb favouring direct instructional techniques, reflecting their effectiveness relative to discovery-based instruction in large-scale studies. Analysis of 2015 PISA data showed that teacher-directed instruction was associated with higher achievement in science (OECD 2016).

The McKinsey Foundation analyzed the 2015 PISA data and found that in classrooms that employed “teacher-directed instruction, in which the teacher explains and demonstrates ideas, considers questions, and leads classroom discussion” results were generally higher than classrooms that used “inquiry-based teaching, in which students are given a more prominent role in their own learning” (Mourshed et. al 2015). In fact, “across all regions, high levels of inquiry-based teaching without a sufficient foundation of teacher-direction result in lower student outcomes”. Similar to Stokke’s 80/20 recommendation, the analysis found a “sweet spot” is best, where teacher-directed instruction predominates in almost all lessons and inquiry-based in only some lessons.

Despite the evidence that inquiry/discovery-based learning is largely ineffective, our observation has been that numerous PD sessions in Manitoba push this approach. At the very least, these sessions should be balanced by PD sessions given by leaders in direct instructional techniques or those familiar with the cognitive science of learning.

Adopting unproven fads is both harmful to students and expensive as it forces continual acquisition of new resources and expensive PD for teachers. We recommend that PD be scaled back altogether, which would have the benefit of a) saving money and b) encouraging teachers to select methods that best work for them.

Improve teacher training and licensing requirements:

Countries in which students perform well on international math assessments emphasize policies that ensure students accepted into teacher education programs are of high quality, have high standards for teacher licensing and have rigorous systems of assessment and accreditation of teacher education programs (Ingvarson et al. 2013; Schmidt, et al. 2011).

To teach mathematics effectively, teachers must have a strong foundation in math. It is therefore extremely important that K-8 teachers, almost all of whom teach math, be required to complete math content courses in university. Currently six credit-hours of university mathematics is required for pre-service K-8 teachers, which we commend, but loopholes that allow pre-service teachers to avoid taking the required math courses must be closed.

For example, once certification is received, teachers may teach any subject in any grade. K-8 teachers are required to complete six credit-hours of university mathematics because they are expected to be generalists, so will teach math. However, those who complete the high school stream in university (sometimes in order to avoid the math requirement) are not required to take math courses (unless this is the major or minor) because high school teachers are specialists who require strength only in their field of instruction. However, those completing the high school stream can (and do!) take positions as K-8 teachers, undercutting the point of a six credit-hour math requirement for K-8 teachers. We recommend that teachers lacking this prerequisite be barred from teaching math altogether.

In addition to the six credit-hour requirement we recommend that in future K-8 teacher candidates be required to pass a licensure K-8 math exam prior to licensing. This would ensure consistency as well as a suitable level of math content knowledge for K-8 teachers. These exams should assess the proficiency in the mathematics that a teacher candidate will be certified to teach, without the use of calculators.

Better accountability measures in the education system:
Most Canadian provinces have declined in mathematics since 2003, which we attribute largely to changes in curriculum and the emphasis on inquiry/discovery-based learning. However, Manitoba has seen the largest decline in Canada. We believe that this may be related to a lack of rigorous data collection and a lack of transparency surrounding student performance.

Most Canadian provinces administer standardized tests yearly (usually at grades 3,6,9 and 12) and publicly post school-level performance results. At one time Manitoba also administered rigorous standardized tests in early grades but, by the year 2000, only the Grade 12 provincial standardized test remained and school-by-school results have been kept secret now for many years. This lack of transparency may have paved the way for ineffective fads to take over Manitoba schools since provincial data was not available to the public to point out instructional failures. Every year, there is vigorous debate in Ontario, for instance, when the EQAO scores are released. This conversation has been largely absent in Manitoba and only comes up every few years when the PISA or PCAP results are released.

Further, while Manitoba has a “schools of choice” policy (we agree with this policy), which allows parents to choose a school for their children instead of being restricted to catchment areas, parents cannot make informed decisions about school choice without proper data on school performance available to them.

We recommend that standardized tests be introduced at grades 3, 6 and 9. The current Grades 3 and 7 assessments are not “standardized” in that they are teacher interviews, so are subject to teacher bias. A rigorous standardized test should be a sit-down student test that teachers do not see in advance, administered to every student in the province, and taken near the end of the school year after students have completed the year’s material. A test is only as good as the curriculum it assesses so it’s important that the curriculum be revised as recommended above.

Finally, we recommend that average results of standardized tests be made public at the school level, which protects individual student privacy. This is normal practice in other Canadian provinces, such as Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

References
Ingvarson, L., J. Schwille, M. Tatto, G. Rowley, R. Peck, and S. Senk. 2013. An Analysis of Teacher Education Context, Structure, and Quality-Assurance Arrangements in TEDS-M Countries: Findings from the IEA Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

Mourshed, M., Krawitz, M., and Dorn, D. 2017. How to improve student educational outcomes: New insights from data analytics McKinsey and Company. Retrieved 20 May 2019, from https://mck.co/2VSqN29 Schmidt, W.R. Houang, and L. Cogan. 2011. “Preparing Future Mathematics Teachers” Science 332 (6035): 1266-7.

Stokke, Anna. 2015. What to do about Canada’s declining math scores. Commentary 427. Toronto: C.D. Howe Institute.

NMAP (National Mathematics Advisory Panel). 2008. Foundations for Success: The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Jessup, MD: US Department of Education.

OECD. 2016. PISA 2015 Results (Volume II): Policies and Practices for Successful Schools, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: Our recommendations are mainly specific to our area of expertise - mathematics.

Conditions required to achieve excellence in student achievement and outcomes in Manitoba:

1. Revise the math curriculum and the instructional methods used to teach it.

Recommendations concerning the math curriculum: We recommend that the math curriculum be revised to emphasize key concepts that have been shown to correlate with later success in math and that these concepts be introduced at earlier grades.

Recommendations concerning instructional methods and teacher professional development: There is a tendency for teacher PD in Manitoba to focus on unproven or ineffective fads. We recommend more balanced teacher PD and that teacher PD be scaled back altogether.

2. Improve teacher training and licensing requirements in math (recommendations in the teaching category).

4. Improve accountability measures in the education system (recommendations in accountability category).

Teaching:

  1. We recommend that loopholes that allow K-8 pre-service teachers to avoid the required six credit-hours of mathematics in university be closed.
  2. We recommend that future K-8 teacher candidates be required to pass a licensure K-8 math exam prior to licensing.

Accountability for Student Learning:

  1. We recommend introducing standardized provincial exams at Grades 3,6 and 9, in addition to the Grade 12 provincial exam.
  2. We recommend that average results of standardized tests be made public at the school level.

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 30

Date Received: 5/30/2019

Name: jenn kostesky

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning

Brief: K-12 Review: Written Submission or Formal Brief

Summary
Children have a fundamental right to an education free from discrimination. But for LGBTTQ* students and LGBTTQ* families, this right is not always a reality.

This document uses “LGBTTQ*” as an umbrella term used to recognize gender and sexual identities including, but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, asexual, and ally. The asterisk invites folks to self-identify and self-define their identities for themselves.

Currently, the Province of Manitoba, through Manitoba Education and Training, fails to provide adequate LGBTTQ*-inclusive learning materials and curriculum requirements for students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12). This failure, compounded by policies that permit schools to exclude discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity altogether, results in discrimination against and the erasure of LGBTTQ* students and families.

This comprehensive review of the K-12 Education System represents a significant opportunity for the Province of Manitoba to become a leader in creating safe learning environments where all students can thrive by mandating the use of educational materials that reflect the diversity of Manitoba families, including LGBTTQ* students and families, in all grades and subject matters from early to senior years. Other provinces have recognized the benefits of LGBTTQ*-inclusive education and are making it a priority, including Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Yukon.

The diversity of Manitoba families, including matters of sexual orientation and gender identity, must be discussed in classrooms throughout the province in a positive and informed manner. Students must see themselves and their families reflected at school and know that they and their families matter. They need to understand the world and the people in it, including people who may be different from them and their families. The provincial curriculum must be designed and delivered in a non-discriminatory manner that respects and celebrates the diversity of families.

Literature from Canada and other countries demonstrates that the combination of LGBTTQ*-inclusive education, the implementation of LGBTTQ*-specific anti-bullying policies and guidelines, as well as training for educators and schools has demonstrated positive results towards improving school climate for all students, including for LGBTTQ* students and families.

Manitoba's School System
Manitoba Education and Training is the government department responsible for education in the Province of Manitoba where the school system is comprised of public schools, provincially-funded independent schools, non-funded independent schools, and homeschooling.

The mandate of Manitoba Education and Training is to “provide direction and allocate resources in support of youth programming and K-12 education in public and funded independent schools” (see www.edu.gov.mb.ca/edu/mandate.html) and it also has significant responsibilities around each kind of school in Manitoba (www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/schools/gts.html). Except for homeschooling, all other modes of school are expressly required to deliver an education equivalent to that provided in a public school.

The Minister of Education sets the provincial curriculum, which serves as the required standard of a public education in the province of Manitoba (see e.g. The Public Schools Act, CCSM c P250, at s 41(1)(a.1) in concert with the Appropriate Educational Programming Regulation, Man Reg 155/2005, s2(1) which requires school boards to provide the curriculum as prescribed or approved by the Minister).

Manitoba's School System Must Reflect the Diversity of Families

While children have a fundamental right to an education free from discrimination, for LGBTTQ* students and families, this right is not always a reality.

Equity and inclusion have been identified by Manitoba Education and Training as foundational principles which are “essential for the education system and must be integrated into all policies, programs, operations and practices.” (www.edu.gov.mb.ca/edu/mandate.html).

Under the The Public Schools Act, s 41(1)(a.1) and (b.1), school boards have a duty to provide appropriate educational programming and to ensure every student “is provided with a safe and caring school environment that fosters and maintains respectful and responsible behaviours.” In addition, under s 41(1)(b.4), school boards have a responsibility to establish a written policy concerning respect for human diversity, and ensure its implementation in schools.

In my experience, there is a disconnect between these obligations and LGBTTQ* students' and families lived experiences.

How the Provincial Curriculum Fails LGBTTQ* Students and Families
While many schools and educators across Manitoba are committed to providing an inclusive education to students, too many schools are failing to live up to their legal obligations to promote and enhance a safe and inclusive learning environment for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Currently, inadequate curriculum guidelines and a patchwork of inadequate school division/district policies, some of which are incredibly dated, are enabling this failure.

While a relatively modest number of curriculum documents suggest that human diversity should be recognized, accepted and celebrated in learning environments, specific LGBTTQ*-inclusive learning materials and curriculum requirements are sorely lacking. Compounding this problem is the fact that curricula discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation is most prominent within the Physical Education/Health guidelines where the province identifies all facets of “human sexuality” as “potentially sensitive content” (www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/physhlth/c_overview.html).

This reduces integral facets of a person's identity to “potentially sensitive content”, which does not reflect the reality of LGBTTQ* students and families. Manitoba Education and Training gives school boards and divisions or districts considerable discretion regarding “potentially sensitive content” which allows schools to opt out of any positive and meaningful discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation. The curriculum as it exists allows school boards/divisions/districts to defend the continued exclusion of LGBTTQ* students and families from classroom discussions, resulting in continuing discrimination.

While Manitoba schools are required to have a policy regarding respect for diversity, which includes the promotion of a safe and inclusive learning environment as well as training teachers and staff regarding bullying prevention, policies focused on safety and physical violence do not address the roots contributing to an unsafe school climate, namely the lack of positive representations and discussions of the diversity of Manitoba families, including LGBTTQ* students and families, in classrooms and other school settings. This leaves schools ill-equipped and reacting to harms students are experiencing, instead of fostering environments that proactively prevent harm in the first place.

A curricula which does not mandate LGBTTQ*-inclusive learning materials contributes to a culture of exclusion and stigmatization that can have severe and lasting consequences for individuals and families. Without mandatory LGBTTQ*-inclusive learning materials and curriculum requirements for all grade levels from early years to senior years, the gap between policy, practice and the lived experiences of students and families only widens and is untenable.

The Necessity of LGBTTQ*-inclusive curricula in ending discrimination

Opportunity for Manitoba to be a Leader in LGBTTQ*-inclusive Education

This comprehensive review of the K-12 Education System in Manitoba represents an opportunity for Manitoba to become a leader in LGBTTQ*-inclusive education, in accordance with best practices and the latest available research.

Consequences of Failing to Mandate LGBTTQ*-inclusive Education
In Canada and internationally, there are very high incidences of LGBTTQ*-phobic bullying and harassment in schools, contributing to a hostile school climate and an overall unsafe environment for all students. School-based victimization of LGBTTQ* students can have profound consequences for students' school success, health and well-being, including being at higher risk of dropping out, having higher levels of mental health concerns and substance abuse, lower grades, higher levels of anxiety, depression and higher rates of suicide. The following is a non-exhaustive list of sources which document the difficult reality for many LGBTTQ* students and families:

Christine Bellini, “The Pink Lesson Plan: Addressing the Emotional Needs of Gay and Lesbian Students in Canadian Teacher Education Programs” (2012) 9:4 J LGBT Youth 373;

Shannon D, Snapp et al, “LGBTQ-Inclusive Curricula: Why Supportive Curricula Matter” (2015) 15:6 Sex Education 580 at 581;

Todd A Savage and G Thomas Schandling Jr, “Creating and Maintaining Safe and Responsive Schools for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youths: Introduction to the Special Issue” (2013) 12:1 J School Violence 1 at 3;

Holly Bishop and Heather Casida, “Preventing Bullying and Harassment of Sexual Minority Students in Schools”, (2011) 84:4 Clearing House: A J Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas 134 at 135;

2017 GLSEN National Climate Survey, online: https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/GLSEN-2017-National-School-Climate-Survey-NSCS-Full-Report.pdf.

Hidden Curriculum
One of the main causes of victimization of LGBTTQ* students and families is a “hidden curriculum” of heteronormativity, cisnormativity, and the promotion of a gender binary over a gender spectrum.

Heteronormativity teaches students that heterosexuality is the default or “normal” sexual orientation instead of one of many possibilities, and that the preferred or default relationship is between two people of “opposite” genders. Cisnormativity assumes that individuals are cisgender (a person whose gender aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth) and the gender binary is the idea that there are two distinct and opposite genders – male and female. This model is limiting and does not account for the full spectrum of gender identities and expressions.

The hidden curriculum is “composed of the unspoken social norms that are outside of the manifest curriculum but that students are nonetheless expected to learn.” (Donn Short, “Don't Be So Gay!”: Queers, Bullying and Making Schools Safe, (2013) Vancouver: UBC Press, ebook available at: http://site.ebrary.com.libproxy.uwinnipeg.ca/lib/uwinnipeg/reader.action?docID=10650031andppg=1 at 115.)

There is growing recognition that addressing the narrow definitions of bullying and school safety is not enough, and that bullying is in fact a problem of non-inclusive, disrespectful school climates.

Mandating LGBTTQ*-inclusive Materials to Change School Climates

Research demonstrates that one of the most effective approaches to changing school climate is mandating LGBTTQ*-inclusive materials in schools for all grade levels, from early years to senior years.

In other words, an effective approach to creating safe school climates is comprised of “laws, policies and programs that mandate curriculum and educative responses in order to transform knowledge and knowledge systems throughout all years of the schooling experience for all students.” (Donn Short, “Don’t Be So Gay!” Queers, Bullying and Making Schools Safe (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2013) at 223.)

LGBTTQ*-inclusive education is also described as “curriculum, policies, and practices that include positive, accurate information about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two Spirit, queer and questioning people as well as issues related to gender and sexual diversity (GSD), also known as GSD-inclusive education.” (Catherine Taylor, Tracey Peter, Every class in every school: final report on the first national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools, (2011) Toronto: Egale Canada Human Rights Trust at 20.)

The following is a non-exhaustive list of practical examples implementing an LGBTTQ*-inclusive curriculum (see Carolyn Albanese, “Embedding LGBTQ Topics in the Curriculum: Looking at the Need, Examining the Barriers, and Considering the Possibilities in the Secondary School Setting”, (2012), online at: http://www.yrdsb.ca/Programs/PLT/Quest/Documents/2012AlbaneseArticle.pdf at 4):
LGBTTQ* personalities in subject areas,
historical events that demonstrate the oppression of this group,
same-sex word phrases in examples and tests,
positive representations of LGBTTQ* community for films and book selection,
encourage critical thinking skills through deconstruction,
ensure the LGBTTQ* voice is represented when teaching, and
use inclusive vocabulary that demonstrates that there is no assumption that everyone in the classroom is heterosexual or cisgender.

A number of jurisdictions in Canada have recognized the benefits of LGBTTQ*-inclusive education and are making it a priority. Other Canadian jurisdictions include Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yukon. Each have recently taken steps beyond safe school policies and gay-straight alliances, recognizing the important role of LGBTTQ*-inclusive education (See e.g. Ontario, Ministry of Education, Realizing the Promise of Diversity: Ontario's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, (ON: Queen's Printer of Ontario, 2009), online: www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/equity.pdf and Saskatchewan, Ministry of Education, Deepening the Discussion: Gender and Sexual Diversity, (2015), online: www.publications.gov.sk.ca/documents/11/84995-Deepening the Discussion_Saskatchewan Ministry of Education Oct 2015 FINAL.pdf).

Teacher and staff training
Complementary to mandated LGBTTQ*-inclusive material, there is also need for training and personal development for educators on LGBTTQ* issues, including pre-employment and continuing personal development during their career. Working directly with students on a daily basis, teachers have a significant impact on making the school environment safe for all students, including LGBTTQ* youth.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: Recommendation #1 – Long-term vision:
One of the long-term goals of the K-12 education system in Manitoba should be to foster safe and inclusive learning environments in which the diversity of Manitoba families is represented from early to senior years and where all students see themselves reflected and can thrive, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The purpose of the K-12 education system should include preparing students to thrive in a diverse and rapidly changing world by exposing students to the diversity of individuals and families in Manitoba, Canada and globally, thereby fostering inclusion, acceptance and the protection of fundamental human rights.

Student Learning: Recommendation #2 – Student learning:
In order for all students to thrive in a safe learning environment, students must be able to see themselves and their families reflected in Manitoba's school system. To achieve these learning conditions, LGBTTQ*-inclusive materials should be mandated in all grades from K-12.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of practical examples implementing an LGBTTQ*-inclusive curriculum: LGBTQ personalities in subject areas, historical events that demonstrate the oppression of this group, same-sex word phrases in examples and tests, positive representations of LGBTQ community for films and book selection, encourage critical thinking skills through deconstruction, ensure the LGBTQ voice is represented when teaching, use inclusive vocabulary that demonstrates that there is no assumption that everyone in the classroom is heterosexual or cisgender (see Carolyn Albanese, “Embedding LGBTQ Topics in the Curriculum: Looking at the Need, Examining the Barriers, and Considering the Possibilities in the Secondary School Setting”, (2012), online at: http://www.yrdsb.ca/Programs/PLT/Quest/Documents/2012AlbaneseArticle.pdf).

To promote a safe learning environment for LGBTTQ* students and recognizing that not every family is supportive of a student's LGBTTQ* identity, curriculum materials should specify that if a student discloses that they are LGBTTQ* to a staff member, that information will be held in confidence and not shared without the student's permission.

Teaching: Recommendation #3 – Teaching:
To enable teachers, staff and school leaders to provide a safe learning environment in which all students can thrive, tools and training on LGBTTQ*-inclusive materials, policies and best practices should be made available and mandatory during initial teacher training and on an ongoing basis during employment.

Accountability for Student Learning: Recommendation #4 – Accountability for student learning:
The provincial government, through the setting of the provincial curriculum, plays a significant role in setting the standard for K-12 education in this province. LGBTTQ*-inclusive materials should be mandated at the provincial curriculum level to encourage consistency within the province and to ensure that all students, regardless of where they live, can attend school in a safe environment where the diversity of Manitoba families is reflected and celebrated.

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 31

Date Received: 5/30/2019

Name: Senior Administration and Board of Trustees

Organization: St. James-Assiniboia School Division

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Long Term Vision
‘Until all of us have made it, none of us have made it’ - Rosemary Brown

Manitoba’s Public Education System is one that strives to provide a coordinated, coherent framework with the appropriate learning supports for all children from birth to the age of twenty-one (cradle to career). The intent of this vision is to instill a sense of hope for all children through the facilitation of equitable, responsible, evidenced-based and, therefore, quality learning experiences providing all youth with the opportunity to be positive, contributing global citizens in a economically flourishing society.

Student Learning
A conscious and persistent commitment by all educational partners to focus on developing a coherent philosophy of education and a supporting set of beliefs, based on current research, that promotes practices and protocols that address the issue of equity in our schools can lead to reducing the effects of poverty on children, resulting in the creation of more inclusive, quality student learning experiences for all children. These set of beliefs or principles include, but are not limited to the following:

The importance of a positive, nurturing and collaborative relationship between learner and teacher is vital, and therefore non negotiable, to one’s learning experience.

A student’s well being must be part of their programming
Students must be actively engaged in their own learning in order to develop their risk-taking and critical thinking skills. Age appropriate collaboration and student discourse must be a part of the classroom culture in all schools. Students must have opportunities to make sense of their curricular studies and learning experiences in order to be able to apply them to the real world around them. Students must have the opportunities to demonstrate of their learning and global citizenship through a portfolio process that includes action research or project-based learning. Improved achievement and student wellbeing are inextricably linked and therefore requires a shared commitment by all educational partners to taking into consideration the research in this area when setting out to improve student-learning experiences.

Teaching
Effective teaching in the public education system must be a collaborative process - whereby teachers are committed to working with others, understanding the dynamic nature of learning, in the ongoing and never ending pursuit of improving the learning experiences in the classroom.

A commitment by teachers and leaders in supporting the importance of collective efficacy in our work is essential for the improvement of student learning. When the educational partners believe that they, as a collective, can make a difference and consistently use that mantra for their daily work, the learning needs of all students will be met. (Hattie, 2017) Teaching should be responsive to student needs. The process should be collaborative, where administrators, teachers and coaches co-plan and co-teach to support professional learning with the intended outcome being the transformation of teaching practices to meet the needs of all students.

Student achievement and teacher/school leader skills increase when all staff members are involved in collaborative, evidenced-based, reflective processes that are established to determine the following:

  • What do we want students to know?
  • How will we know they know it?
  • What will we do if they don’t know it? (growth for both students and teachers)
  • What will we do if they already know it?

Aligned with this focus on collaboration, ensuring that horizontal and vertical teaming processes (at the school as well as the Divisional level) are in place to ensure that student achievement goals and outcomes are being met is the norm for every school.

Accountability for Student Learning
Formative assessments are ongoing, and use a variety of work samples (conversations, observations and products) and Manitoba Achievement profiles are used as indicators on reporting. Teachers will ensure students will be competent in: conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, application and flexible thinking, reasoning, and engagement.

  • Teacher Agency – Teachers understand that they can act purposefully to affect the significant change in their students’ learning, with Hattie’s effect size research to guide them.
  • Student self - assessments
  • Assessing before, during and after a lesson
  • Determining student needs and next steps using formative assessments
  • Summarizing student progress using summative assessments for the purpose of improving both the teaching and student learning

Diligence is required in monitoring student growth and developing a better understanding of language acquisition. Monitoring to ensure that all students are moving through the stages at appropriate rates.

Have benchmarks (rigor) but allow for learning to be shown in a variety of ways (assessment).

Governance
The ability to implement programming (i.e. Commit2Kids, Peaceful Village, Winnipeg Jet Hockey Academy, Adapted Swim, etc) and staffing based on the needs of our students and their families is a critical component of a flourishing ‘Local Voice, Local Choice’ public education system. Issues around programming vary across all school divisions and may be at risk of becoming less targeted in the event of amalgamation. We continue to advocate for our long- standing school boards and governance structure, including senior administration, working together to make local, educated decisions to improve student learning and create safe learning environments in the local community.

Funding
The Provincial Education Funding Model needs to be reviewed to ensure the appropriate level of Provincial Funding is provided to safeguard public education and ensure a sustainable fiscal framework. In 2019-2020, the Provincial Government Support will represent only 50.70% of the Total Operating Revenue in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division (Table 1). Despite increasing enrolment, St. James-Assiniboia has not received a Provincial Funding increase in 8 years. The last 3 years have been Provincial Funding Announcement decreases (Table 2). SJASD has demonstrated fiscal responsibility by identifying operating reductions and achieving low operating budget expenditure increases (Tables 3 and 4).

Year Operating Expenditure Budget % Increase
2019-2020 $109,485,763 0.66%
2018-2019 $108,772,302 0.45%

In 2019-2020, the SJASD Operating Expenditure Budget included reductions of $1,303,247.


Appendices

Table 1

Actual 1995-1996 Actual 2005-2006 Actual 2009-2010 Actual 2013-2014 Actual 2014-2015 Actual 2015-2016 Actual 2016-2017 Actual 2017-2018 Actual 2018-2019 Actual 2019-2020
Provincial Revenue Percentage 56.40 56.60 59.80 58.20 57.60 56.25 54.40 52.90 51.78 50.70
Property Taxes Percentage 39.70 39.10 35.40 37.60 38.00 39.41 41.06 43.74 44.83 46.04
Other Revenue Percentage 3.90 4.30 4.80 4.20 4.40 4.34 4.54 3.36 3.39 3.26


Table 2

Year Provincial Announcement SJASD Increase
2019/2020 0.50% (0.90%)
2018/2019 0.50% (2.00%)
2017/2018 1.00% (2.00%)
2016/2017 2.55% 0.00%
2015/2016 2.00% 0.00%
2014/2015 2.00% 0.00%
2013/2014 2.30% 0.00%
2012/2013 2.20% 0.00%
2011/2012 2.70% 2.20%
2010/2011 2.95% 2.50%
10 year avg 1.87% (0.02%)


Table 3

Budget Comparison 2019/2020 and 2018/2019 by Object

REVENUE (A) OPERATING

BUDGET 2019-2020 BUDGET 2018-2019 DIFFERENCE % CHANGE ACTUAL 2017-2018
Provincial Govt. Support $56,708,178 $56,853,461 ($145,283) -0.26% $57,874,721
Federal Govt. $9,680 $0 $9,680 100.00% $9,680
Municipal Government $51,500,361 $49,225,406 $2,274,955 4.62% $47,850,609
School Divisions $563,500 $619,209 ($55,709) -9.00% $562,424
First Nations $150,000 $210,000 ($60,000) -28.57% $144,527
Private Organizations and Individuals $2,131,842 $2,129,992 $1,850 0.09% $2,145,228
Other $786,370 $757,602 $28,768 3.80% $814,374
TOTAL REVENUE $111,849,931 $109,795,670 $2,054,261 1.87% $109,401,563

EXPENDITURES (A) OPERATING

Salaries $84,111,645 $83,116,215 $995,430 1.20% $82,134,295
Benefits $6,749,442 $6,390,400 $359,042 5.62% $6,327,082
Services $10,576,769 $11,107,887 ($531,118) -4.78% $10,524,042
Supplies and Equipment $5,711,623 $5,865,321 ($153,698) -2.62% $5,114,384
Interest and Bank Charges $69,696 $75,197 ($5,501) -7.32% $47,686
Transfers $2,266,588 $2,217,282 $49,306 2.22% $2,235,495
TOTAL EXPENSE $109,485,763 $108,772,302 $713,461 0.66% $106,382,984
SURPLUS(DEFICIT) $2,364,168 $1,023,368 $1,340,800 131.02% $3,018,579
TRANSFER FROM RESERVE ($2,335,842) ($1,023,368) ($1,312,474) 128.25% ($2,566,078)
SURPLUS(DEFICIT) RESTATED $28,326 $0 $28,326 100.00% $452,501

Table 4

Budget Comparison 2018/2019 and 2017/2018 by Object

REVENUE (A) OPERATING

BUDGET 2018-2019 BUDGET 2017-2018 DIFFERENCE % CHANGE ACTUAL 2016-2017
Provincial Govt. Support $56,853,461 $57,979,696 ($1,126,235) -1.94% $58,670,463
Federal Govt. $0 $0 $0 0.00% $0
Municipal Government $49,225,406 $47,852,773 $1,372,633 2.87% $44,286,375
School Divisions $619,209 $704,460 ($85,251) -12.10% $609,670
First Nations $210,000 $175,000 $35,000 20.00% $243,955
Private Organizations and Individuals $2,129,992 $1,938,242 $191,750 9.89% $3,173,638
Other $757,602 $730,585 $27,017 3.70% $865,792
TOTAL REVENUE $109,795,670 $109,380,756 $414,914 0.38% $107,849,893

EXPENDITURES (A) OPERATING

Salaries $83,116,215 $82,843,250 $272,965 0.33% $79,891,433
Benefits $6,390,400 $6,711,094 ($320,694) -4.78% $6,115,430
Services $11,107,887 $10,783,609 $324,278 3.01% $11,020,342
Supplies and Equipment $5,865,321 $5,614,109 $251,212 4.47% $5,496,432
Interest and Bank Charges $75,197 $67,700 $7,497 11.07% $52,100
Transfers $2,217,282 $2,270,130 ($52,848) -2.33% $2,189,856
TOTAL EXPENSE $108,772,302 $108,289,892 $482,410 0.45% $104,765,593
SURPLUS(DEFICIT) $1,023,368 $1,090,864 ($67,496) -6.19% $3,084,300
TRANSFER FROM RESERVE ($1,023,368) ($1,261,879) $238,511 -18.90% ($2,109,093)
SURPLUS(DEFICIT) RESTATED $0 ($171,015) $171,015 -100.00% $975,207


Table 5

PORTION PERCENTAGE

RES 1 RES 2 RES 3 FARM RAIL INSTITUTIONAL OTHER HIGHER REC ED OTHER
PORTION % (1994) 45% 64% 35% 30% 50% 25% 65% 0% 8% 65%
PORTION % (2018) 45% 45% 45% 26% 50% 25% 65% 0% 10% 65%
PORTION % (2019) 45% 45% 45% 26% 50% 25% 65% 0% 10% 65%
% SHIFT SINCE 1994 0% -19% 10% -4% 0% 0% 0% 0% 2% 0%


PORTIONED ASSESSMENT

RES 1 RES 2 RES 3 FARM PIPE
1994 $657,739,410 $131,857,340 $22,589,500 $680,220 $717,000
2018 $2,226,237,070 $403,162,200 $159,406,650 $2,350,192 $782,000
2019 $2,231,643,370 $403,158,600 $158,906,250 $3,822,832 $782,000

(as at March 1, 2019)

2019 Increase ($) $5,406,300 -$3,600 -$500,400 $1,472,640 $0
2019 Increase (%) 0.24% 0.00% -0.31% 62.66% 0.00%
Incr (Decr) Since 1994 $1,573,903,960 $271,301,260 $136,316,750 $3,142,612 $65,000
% Change 239.29% 205.75% 603.45% 462.00% 9.07%


RAIL INSTITUTIONAL HIGHER OTHER REC ED OTHER TOTAL
1994 $1,617,280 $44,855,810 $0 $2,087,840 $558,711,990 $1,420,856,390
2018 $5,362,250 $34,702,850 $0 $4,027,600 $1,507,242,092 $4,343,272,904
2019 $5,362,250 $42,898,050 $0 $4,027,600 $1,504,542,707 $4,355,143,659

(as at March 1, 2019) 2019 Increase ($) $0 $8,195,200 $0 $0 -$2,699,385 $11,870,755 2019 Increase (%) 0.00% 23.62% 0.00% 0.00% -0.18% 0.27% Incr (Decr) Since 1994 $3,744,970 -$1,957,760 $0 $1,939,760 $945,830,717 $2,934,287,269 % Change 231.56% -4.36% 0.00% 92.91% 169.29% 206.52%


SPECIAL LEVY RAISED (%)

RES 1 RES 2 RES 3 FARM PIPE
1994 46.29% 9.28% 1.59% 0.05% 0.05%
2018 51.26% 9.28% 3.67% 0.05% 0.02%
2019 51.24% 9.26% 3.65% 0.09% 0.02%
% SHIFT IN 2019 -0.02% -0.02% -0.02% 0.04% 0.00%
% SHIFT SINCE 1994 4.95% -0.02% 2.06% 0.04% -0.03%


RAIL INSTITUTIONAL HIGHER OTHER REC ED OTHER TOTAL
1994 0.11% 3.16% 0.00% 0.15% 39.32% 100.00%
2018 0.12% 0.80% 0.00% 0.09% 34.71% 100.00%
2019 0.12% 0.98% 0.00% 0.09% 34.55%
% SHIFT IN 2019 0.00% 0.18% 0.00% 0.00% -0.16%
% SHIFT SINCE 1994 0.01% -2.18% 0.00% -0.06% -4.77%

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: There must be a comprehensive focus on children from birth to the age of twenty-one (Cradle to Career). A coherent strategy through one Ministry responsible for educating this cohort, along with an integrated strategy with other ministries (health, justice, families, etc) will provide the necessary support and direction required to address the learning needs of all children.

Student Learning: Literacy and Numeracy tasks that are rich, relevant and authentic will ensure rich, inquiry-based learning experiences. Common assessments in the area of literacy and numeracy are needed to ensure consistency of teaching and learning by design.

Teaching: i. Expand the school year to allow for adult learning (teacher PD) to be intensive and intentional prior to the start of school year. This creates the opportunity for purposeful, targeted planning to establish ongoing benchmarks in support of continuously trying to improve student learning. ii. Pre-service education training must include courses that: o Teach literacy and numeracy - in order to address the needs of a diverse classroom with specific literacy and numeracy strategies, o Focus on student wellbeing/well becoming as integral components to the learning process, o Include trauma-informed teaching practices, and o Highlight the importance of professional responsibilities in the area of focused collaboration - with educational partners, working within professional learning communities focused on student data and achievement, learning sprints, action research to achieve student success

Accountability for Student Learning: The current learning gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous, EAL and non-EAL, male and female achievement must be addressed through continued focus on meeting all students where they are at, providing relevant and rigorous instruction, supporting students using evidence-based strategies in addition to implementing a focused approach to the hiring of staff that reflects the community it serves. Assessment must be authentic, meaningful and relevant to the learner with the focus of student assessment on the growth of the learner.

Governance: i. Amalgamation is an expensive option because of the cost to harmonize collective agreements, specialized educational programs, services, and policies. Past amalgamations have shown that overall costs will increase and the efforts involved in combining School Divisions can take years. Administration costs are less than 2.70% of Metro School Division operating budgets. While amalgamation may lead to a fewer number of senior executives, it is likely that assistant management positions will increase. The workload will still be required and central office will need to implement a higher level of internal control to manage the increase in sites. Larger School Divisions are more removed from the front operating line and run the risk of not responding to local concerns in a timely and accurate manner. Local representation should be maintained to ensure the local School Division is responsive to the many changing educational needs of its community. ii. The moratorium on school closure should be discontinued to provide Divisions with the local autonomy to determine the best use of its school buildings.

Funding: i. The Provincial Government used to have an active Minister Advisory Committee for Education Finance that provided an important dialogue between the Provincial Government and Education representatives (MASBO, MASS, etc.) on the Education Funding Model. The reactivation of a similar advisory committee would be beneficial in establishing an Education Funding Model that is current, provides adequate resources within a sustainable fiscal framework, and allows for informed input from multiple sources. ii. The Provincial Government reviews the possibility of Multi-Year Education Funding Announcements. Currently, Divisions must adjust their planning based on a one year Provincial Funding Announcement that is provided in January/February. A budget must be approved by March and Divisions are pressured within tight timelines to effectively allocate the Provincial Education Funding and determine tax requirements. iii. The Provincial Government should review the classification of Property and Portioned Values Regulation to determine if the taxable percentage (%) for each property classification still reflects current market conditions. In St. James-Assiniboia, Residential 1 Portioned Assessment has increased at a faster rate than other property classifications. As a result, the homeowner is paying a larger portion (51.24%) of the overall education tax bill (Table 5). The Residential 2 portioned percentage has declined from 64% (1994) to 45% (2019).

Brief 32

Date Received: 5/30/2019

Name: Tom Simms

Organization: Community Education Development Association

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Governance

Brief: Background

The Community Education Development Association (CEDA) is an inner city community development organization that was established in 1979. Over the past 40 years, CEDA has provided a range of services including community school programs, school-age childcare, adult education, after school tutoring and mentoring programs, neighbourhood renewal, co-op housing development, job training and community economic development initiatives for inner city communities.

Long Term Vision

Schools in low-income communities must play a broader role to support the socio-economic and cultural identity needs of the students they serve in order to improve educational outcomes. The teachings of the Medicine Wheel within Indigenous culture are rooted on the need for holistic development – physical, emotional, spiritual and mental balance. The classic theory of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs points out that individuals cannot reach levels of achievement or self-actualization, like graduating from high school, unless basic needs such as food, clothing, housing, safety, trust and belonging are met. Neuro-science identifies that trauma, including inter-generational trauma from the residential schools experience or the trauma of war-affected refugees, negatively impacts the development and functioning of the amygdala, hippocampus and ventro medial prefrontal regions of the brain. Educational success is not just about trying harder or spending more time on the three Rs, it is also about addressing these environmental barriers to learning.

Avis Glaze’s 2018 Raising the Bar Report for the Nova Scotia government’s review of public education recommended a key role for schools is that of a resource hub for family support known as the SchoolsPlus approach to education. Glaze identified that, "The vision for SchoolsPlus is that schools become a convenient place for government and other services to be delivered to families. This approach makes it easier for professionals to collaborate with each other on behalf of children, youth and families. Families are served in a welcoming, accessible place that they are already familiar with – a school in their own community" (Raising the Bar Report, 2018, P. 32).

The Winnipeg Foundation’s Centennial Neighbourhood Project at Dufferin School in the inner city of Winnipeg between 2003 and 2008 was based on the SchoolsPlus concept. It promoted the role of the school as a resource hub to maximize the use of existing resources, as wells as leveraging new resources through partnerships to support families. One of the initiatives focussed on community-based child welfare prevention strategies that included:

  • early warning system through a “Walking School Bus” program that hired a well-respected local community parent to provide attendance and family support on a daily basis;
  • community self-help through a Family Resource Centre located in the school that provided a range of food security, housing, and parenting supports; and
  • partnerships with non-governmental organizations for child and family supports which reinforced the theme that schools cannot play these roles by themselves.

In Manitoba, the Community Schools Partnership Initiative is based on the SchoolsPlus concept. This is an approach to education that promotes better coordination of wrap- around resources and should be further expanded to address the socio-economic barriers faced by students and families in schools in low-income communities.

Student Learning
The impact of colonization and inter-generational trauma needs to be acknowledged and addressed through equity-centred education initiatives for Indigenous students and families. This includes the importance of identity and language development, as well as land-based education.

A key concept of equity-centred education is understanding the difference between equality, treating everyone the same, and equity, where additional resources are required to address the barriers of inequality that children and families face in their lives and with the education system. In order to improve educational outcomes, treating students fairly means not treating students equally if the barriers to learning are to be meaningfully addressed.

A comparative analysis between Saskatchewan and Manitoba of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) done by the Council of Education Ministers in 2015 for science, reading and mathematics indicates that both of these provinces scored similar PISA test results over a period of time when a conservative government was in power in Saskatchewan and under a social democratic government in Manitoba. An interpretation of this data using an equity-centred lens would bring into question that there are factors beyond the ideological orientation of educational policies of the respective provincial government that impacts student learning. Given the similar demographics of the Indigenous populations in these two provinces, one of the structural factors that needs to be taken into consideration regarding the PISA score results is the underlying impact of colonization on Indigenous students and how this affects their educational outcomes. Unless issues related to colonization are addressed, the learning experiences and potential of many Indigenous students will be compromised.

A comparative presentation of PISA scores in Saskatchewan and Manitoba is provided in the charts below.

Science:

Province 2006 Average PISA Score 2015 Average PISA Score
Manitoba 523 499
Saskatchewan 517 496
Canada 534 528

Reading:

Province 2009 Average PISA Score 2015 Average PISA Score
Manitoba 495 498
Saskatchewan 504 496
Canada 524 527

Mathematics:

Province 2012 Average PISA Score 2015 Average PISA Score
Manitoba 492 489
Saskatchewan 506 484
Canada 518 516

Cindy Blackstock, the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, identifies the limitations of what she describes as “incremental equality” in which cross-cutting issues of inequality are addressed one topic at a time, such as just dealing with child welfare issues, or just dealing with education issues. Blackstock maintains that in order to fundamentally address the impacts of colonization and inter-generational trauma experienced by Indigenous peoples, a holistic approach needs to be taken that does not address issues of inequality one issue at a time, but rather, takes an integrated approach to change through addressing the inter-relationships between self-governance, land claims, education, housing, child welfare, health, economic development and clean drinking water. According to Blackstock, “we need to understand with all our hearts, minds and souls that equality for kids is what you do in a leap, not a shuffle” (One on One Interview with Peter Mansbridge, 2016).

A second theme related to student learning involves improving high school graduation rates in low-income communities through partnerships with non-government organizations (NGOs) to provide after school tutoring and mentoring programs. Pathways to Education Canada is a national NGO that is building a “graduation nation” through partnerships with local NGOs in 20 low-income communities across Canada.

The cost of not graduating from high school is significant for individuals, government and society as a whole. A research study entitled the Cost Estimate for Dropping Out of High School in Canada by Olena Hankivsky of Simon Fraser University in 2008, identified that on an annual basis this cost to the federal government is about $3 billion for social assistance, employment insurance and crime related costs. The private costs for health and earning loss potential is about $34 billion annually. CEDA has recently received a grant from Pathways Canada to develop a similar analysis of the increased cost of health, justice, income assistance and child welfare related impacts to the province of Manitoba of students not graduating from high school which will be released later this year.

George Sefa-Dei, a prominent equity-based educator, argues that the issue of “student drop-outs” needs to be reframed as “student push-outs” (Re-constructing Drop-Out, 1997). Students are not choosing to leave school. Rather, the school system is not adequately meeting their learning needs.

The CEDA Pathways program in the North End of Winnipeg, the local site of the Pathways to Education Canada, is based on developing relationships with students to provide additional after-school supports to further meet their learning needs. The six year mean average pre-program baseline high school graduation rate for the 2009 to 2011 period of time was 28% in the identified North End neighbourhood that CEDA Pathways serves. In 2018, the graduation rate for students involved the CEDA Pathways after school tutoring program was 61% for students who took six years to graduate from high school.

A key feature of the CEDA Pathways program is creating a peer culture for learning, including the role of peer helpers and a focus on hiring staff that are graduates of the program. CEDA Pathways plays an important role in leveraging resources – every $1 contributed by the provincial government leverages $3 in additional funding resources from the public, private and philanthropic sectors. As well, the program has just completed negotiating a partnership with the University of Manitoba to establish a transition to post-secondary education and employment support program.

A third theme related to student learning involves the needs of newcomer and refugee students and families. CEDA is a founding member of the Newcomers Education Coalition which has identified the following priorities for newcomer students, including:

  • teacher training to strengthen capacity to work with newcomer students and to increase the number of newcomer teacher representation in schools;
  • strengthening parental engagement;
  • expanding mental health supports to address the trauma experienced by children and families; and
  • more educational resources for older newcomer youth with interrupted learning due to the extensive amount of time they have spent in refugee camps where they had limited opportunities for education.

Teaching
The 2016 Manitoba Auditor General Report identified that there was a shortage of Indigenous teachers in the province of Manitoba. The provincial government’s most recent Aboriginal Teacher Questionnaire Report in 2013 indicated 9% of the 14,359 teachers in provincial schools self-identified as being Indigenous. In 2013, 19% of the students in provincial schools self-identified as Indigenous. Manitoba’s overall Indigenous population was 17% in 2011. In order to improve educational outcomes, Indigenous students need to see themselves better reflected in curriculum and teaching staff in their schools.

This need for greater representation of Indigenous teachers in schools is consistent with the recommendations made by Avis Glaze in her 2018 Raising the Bar Report for the Nova Scotia provincial government’s review of their public education system. Glaze recommended, "Developing a coordinated workforce strategy to identify, recruit and retain teachers, specialists and educational support staff in the communities that need them. In addition, particular attention should be paid to increasing diversity in teaching and educational leadership programs, particularly African Nova Scotians, Mi’kmaw and Acadian teachers" (Raising the Bar Report, 2018, P. 38).

Strategies to increase the number of Indigenous teachers in the province of Manitoba could include:

  • school divisions providing annual employment equity reports that set goals and monitor progress;
  • promoting faculties of education to work in partnership with school divisions and Indigenous organizations to develop and implement a 10-year strategic plan to address the shortage of Indigenous teachers;
  • increasing the pool of Indigenous people that would like to become teachers through –
    a) community-based education assistant intern programs that attract parents to work in their child’s local schools which build pathways to teacher education programs (i.e Winnipeg Foundation’s Centennial Neighbourhood Project training program at Dufferin School)
    b) expanding laddering programs for existing Indigenous education assistants to teacher education programs (i.e. Community Aboriginal Teacher Education Program at the University of Winnipeg)
    c) expanding laddering programs for Indigenous high school students to enter teacher education programs (i.e. Building from Within Program – a partnership between the Winnipeg School Division and University of Winnipeg); and
  • establishing a Bachelor of Education in Indigenous Knowledges modelled after the University of Manitoba’s Master of Social Work based in Indigenous Knowledges.

Governance
An equity lens needs to be used as a foundation for any restructuring of the school board/governance systems. The representation of Indigenous peoples and racialized groups must be included in decision making systems in order to ensure their needs and aspirations are being addressed. Democratically elected structures are required rather than bureaucratically controlled structures. Regarding the importance of an equity lens involving governance, Avis Glaze’s 2018 Raising the Bar Report for the Nova Scotia government recommended that an equity approach be adopted and implemented to ensure the voices and representation of Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotians were structurally imbedded in systems of governance.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: CEDA recommends that the province support the expansion of the Community Schools Partnership Initiative that promotes the SchoolsPlus approach involving local schools in low-income communities becoming wrap-around resource hubs for family support to address the socio-economic barriers which negatively impact a child’s education

Student Learning:

  1. CEDA recommends that the impact of inter-generational trauma and colonization be acknowledged and addressed through equity-centred education programs and allocation of resources that promotes the importance of culture, language, identity development and land-based education.
  2. CEDA recommends that the province provide ongoing support to after school tutoring and mentoring programs operated by non-profit organizations that work in partnership with local schools to support the improvement of high school graduation rates in low-income communities and transition of high school graduates to post-secondary education and employment.
  3. CEDA recommends that the province supports the learning needs of newcomer students through teacher education training to strengthen capacity of teachers to work with newcomer students; increasing the number of newcomer teachers working in schools; strengthening parental engagement; expanding mental health supports to address the trauma of newcomer children and families; and providing more educational resources for older newcomer youth with interrupted learning due to extensive time spent in refugee camps

Teaching:

  1. CEDA recommends that the province work with Indigenous organizations, school divisions, and faculties of education to develop a 10-year plan for partnership strategies to address the growing shortage of Indigenous teachers in the province that was identified by the Manitoba Auditor General Report in 2016.
  2. CEDA recommends that school divisions provide annual employment equity reports that set goals and monitor progress.
  3. CEDA recommends that province support partnership strategies to increase the pool of Indigenous people that would like to become teachers through (1) community-based training programs to attract Indigenous adults to work in their child’s local schools as interns and build a pathway to teacher education programs; (2) expanding laddering programs for existing Indigenous educational assistants to teacher education programs; and (3) expanding laddering programs for Indigenous high school students to enter the teaching field.
  4. CEDA recommends that the province support partnerships to establish a Bachelor of Education in Indigenous Knowledges modelled after the University of Manitoba’s Masters of Social Work in Indigenous Knowledges program.

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance:

  1. CEDA recommends that an equity lens needs to be used for any restructuring of the school board/governance systems in order that the representation of Indigenous peoples and racialized groups is included in decision making structures to ensure their needs and aspirations are being addressed.
  2. CEDA recommends that any restructuring of the school board/governance systems should be based on democratically elected structures rather than bureaucratically controlled structures.

Funding: N/A

Brief 33

Date Received: 5/30/2019

Name: Heidi Garcia

Organization: Manitoba Society of Occupational Therapists

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: School-based Occupational Therapy (OT) helps children succeed. Occupational therapists in schools promote student’s participation in all school activities; fulfilling their role of student by supporting foundations for academic learning and promoting positive behaviours that are needed for learning (AOTA, 2016). Extensive research to date supports the effectiveness of occupational therapy in school settings by helping children attain goals and develop skills in foundational areas and support school performance (Whalen, 2003).

Whether a child has received a diagnosis or not, school-based occupational therapists focus on identifying students’ strengths and factors that may be interfering with learning and participation in the educational environment, and collaborate with school teams to help children succeed through practical classroom strategies, individual adaptations or developing new skills. This support from occupational therapists can reduce future costs to health, education, and social services systems (CAOT, 2002).

School Occupational Therapists are the ideal candidates to collaborate with school staff to develop mental health promotion programs:

Public school systems are an area of practice in which occupational therapists can positively impact and should continue to expand their role to promote mental health of school-aged children and support school administrators in implementing school-wide programming (Ball, 2018). Teachers report needing “improved instructional resources and training to reach all students” as 87% report teaching students with behavioural issues, the majority of which interfere with teaching (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation p. 51-52, 2012). Most of those teachers reported a strong or very strong impact on student achievement with the in-school behavioural support of clinicians, such as Occupational Therapists.

The numbers of students with diagnoses of ADHD, ASD, and anxiety continue to be on the rise, and occupational therapists strive for collaborative service delivery to best meet the diverse challenges experienced by individuals with ASD (CAOT, 2015), as well as the needs of all individuals with diverse challenges. When a child experiences stress for a variety of reasons (biological, social, emotional, cognitive or prosocial reasons), they become dysregulated and unavailable for learning, display inappropriate behaviours, struggle with social participation and negatively impact the safety in the learning environment. Stress often shows up in misbehaviour (Hopkins and Shepherd, 2019), mood, attention and physical well-being. A stressed brain is not ready or available to learn, and misbehaviour negatively impacts the learning of others in the classroom.

With strong roots in mental health, occupational therapy is recognized as a core mental health profession (AOTA, 2010). With an entry-level Masters’ degree, occupational therapists are equipped to address mental health challenges experienced by children and youth (De Ruiter Blackwell and Bilics, 2018) using a person-centered, trauma-informed lens and culturally safe practices that can be helpful in observing the root cause of behaviours, reframing the understanding of behaviours and altering expectations of the adults in the environment (Whalen, 2003).

With an understanding of trauma and sensory processing needs, occupational therapists can support a healthy climate, decrease negative stress and promote positive mental health in the school setting (Arbesman et al, 2013, Bazyk et al., 2015) through individual or classroom-based strategies to strengthen the preventative and proactive components of the entire education system. Occupational therapists can also support increased engagement through practical strategies such as: classroom management strategies, co-teaching about self-regulation, learning tools and movement breaks, classroom safety and proactive crisis management, sensory hallways or collaborating with school counsellors to provide emotional-regulation lessons, improving social skills and social thinking skills on the playground (Ball, 2018) and building capacity through mental health promotion initiatives, such as Every Moment Counts, (Bazyk et al., 2015; www.everymomentcounts.org).

School Occupational Therapists support educational outcomes by collaborating with educators:
Occupational Therapists are skilled in understanding and supporting appropriate educational programming for all students, particularly adapting tasks to the level a students needs to feel successful, breaking down tasks or modifying to meet individual student needs and identifying appropriate supports to ensure all students are able to be active participants in their learning and social life as required by the Appropriate Education Programming regulation in Manitoba.

Demonstrated to be cost-effective and build capacity, current research highlights the success of using the 3 tiers of response to intervention (RTI), or Partner for Change Model (P4C) to deliver Occupational Therapy supports in educational settings (CanChild, 2012; Chu, 2017). This model supports a change in thinking from an individual deficit-driven model, to a whole-school strength-based approach where occupational therapists provide service as a collaborative member of the team through school-wide, whole classroom, small group and/or individual interventions benefitting more students, teachers and parents (CanChild, 2012,). In a scoping review, Anaby et al. (2019) recommend best-practices and considerations in delivering school-based services to promote participation and inclusion.

Recent research highlights that Occupational Therapy is perceived by teachers as a valuable contribution to the educational team that is underutilized. Positive educational outcomes occur with effective collaboration between these professions (Benson et al., 2016; Truong and Hodgetts, 2017). Another significant theme that emerged from Benson et al. (2016) was that more than 50% of teachers wanted “more” – more opportunities to work with the Occupational Therapist, more direct involvement with the Occupational Therapist, more time for the Occupational Therapist to be in their building/classroom, more time for the Occupational Therapist to spend directly with students, more flexibility in their schedules, and more time to build a collaborative relationship for teachers to receive strategies that can support students in all environments.

Barriers to effective collaboration include when occupational therapists are not in a direct relationship with school divisions or fully integrated with the educational team due to “high caseload numbers and itinerant status” (Benson et al, 2016). In addition, occupational therapists’ fast-growing workloads include immense demands of time and resources (Jackson et al, 2006) and may leave them unable to be as directly involved with the school, or with the ability to interact with teachers or students on a regular basis. Finally, Truong and Hodgetts (2017) found that most teachers do not learn about occupational therapy in their entry to practice education, and this lack of understanding could limit referrals to occupational therapy which may negatively affect student outcomes.

Rehabilitation assistants (under the supervision of Occupational Therapists) can be used as an alternative to educational assistants. Rehabilitation assistants (RA) require less direct time training as they receive education and training and a strong foundation of knowledge in areas such as: safe lifts and transfers of students with mobility challenges, running small group interventions or providing individual intervention in Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy or Speech and Language Pathology.

School Occupational Therapists support development of foundational skills:
While educators have the primary responsibility for literacy, occupational therapists address literacy through supporting the development of the underlying components (Frolek Clark, 2016). The most recent Manitoba Early Development Index (EDI) report from 2016-17 (Healthy Child Manitoba) indicates that 25% of Kindergarten students have difficulty performing skills requiring gross and fine motor competence and 23% do not demonstrate advanced literacy skills (reading, writing simple words/sentences or writing voluntarily). Fine and gross motor skills form the foundation for printing.

When children acquire good printing skills, they write with ease and speed in all subjects (Feder and Majnemer, 2007). Occupational Therapists have education in early childhood development, to support the development of foundational skills and milestones needed before printing, leading to proficient writers who can write with ease and speed in all subjects.

Research extensively documents the consequences of poor handwriting on academic performance, and many children who experience difficulty with printing may avoid writing and decide that they cannot write (Graham, Harris and Fink, 2007). Struggles with writing can affect students’ testable skills in many subjects (e.g. writing, reading, math, critical thinking) and the single best predictor of length and quality of written composition for Grades 1–5, and for high school and college, is the ability to automatically write letters (Frolek Clark, 2016). If you wait too long to intervene, it costs more and there are more secondary effects, such as decreased self-esteem and lower overall academic performance (Engel-Yeger et al, 2009).

Successful children will become successful, productive adults who are able to contribute in meaningful ways to society, rather than a burden on social services, health services, and other government funded systems. Timely access to Occupational Therapy support using a 3-tiered model of service delivery can save money by supporting children to learn new skills or adapt the learning environment, and by building capacity of educators. Occupational Therapists are trained to support foundational skills and ensure students are ready to be engaged learners, which leads to improved educational outcomes.

References:
American Occupational Therapy Association _AOTA_ (2016). Occupational Therapy in School Settings. Retrieved from: https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/AboutOT/Professionals/WhatIsOT/CY/Fact-Sheets/School Settings fact sheet.pdf

American Occupational Therapy Association _AOTA_. (2010). Specialized knowledge and skills in mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention in occupational therapy practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64(Supp l.), S30–S43.

Anaby, D., Campbell, W., Missiuna, C., Shaw, S. (2019). Recommended practices to organize and deliver school-based services for children with disabilities: A scoping review. Child Care Health Development, 45, 15-27.

Arbesman, M., Bazyk, S., and Nochajski, S. M. (2013). Systematic review of occupational therapy and mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention for children and youth. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67(6), e120–e130.

Ball, Maria A. (2018) Revitalizing the OT role in school-based practice: Promoting success for all students, Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention, 11(3), 263-272.

Bazyk, S., Demurjian, L., Laguardia, T., Thompson-Repas, K., Conway, C., and Michaud, P. (2015). Building capacity of occupational therapy practitioners to address mental health needs of children and youth: A mixed methods study of knowledge translation. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69.

Benson, Jeryl D., Szucs, Kimberly A. and Mejasic, J.J. (2016) Teachers’ perceptions of the role of occupational therapist in schools. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention, 9:3, 290-301.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (2012). Primary sources: America’s teachers on the teaching profession. Scholastic Inc. Retrieved from https://www.scholastic.com/primarysources/pdfs/ Gates2012_full.pdf

DeRuiter Blackwell, Cindy and Bilics, Andrea (2018) Preparing occupational therapy students to address mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention in school-based practice, Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention, 11:1, 77-86.

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. _CAOT_ (2002). How occupational therapy makes a difference in the school system: A summary of the literature. Occupational Therapy Now, 4(3), 15–18.

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. _CAOT_ (2015). CAOT Position Statement: Autism spectrum disorders and occupational therapy. Retrieved from: https://www.caot.ca/document/3656/autism.pdf

CanChild Centre for Disability Research (2012). Partnering for Change. Ontario: McMaster University. Retrieved from: http://canchild.ca/en/ourresearch/partneringforchange.asp

Chu, Sidney. (2017) Supporting children with special educational needs (SEN): An introduction to a 3-tiered school-based occupational therapy model of service delivery in the United Kingdom, World Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin, 73:2, 107-116.

Engel-Yeger, Batya, Magauker-Yanuv, Limor and Rosenblum, Sara. (2009). Handwriting Performance, Self Reports, and Perceived Self-Efficacy Among Children with Dysgraphia. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63, 182–192.

Feder, Katya P., and Annette Majnemer. 2007. “Handwriting Development, Competency, and Intervention.” Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 49, 312–317.

Frolek Clark, G. (2016). The occupations of literacy: Occupational therapy’s role. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools and Early Intervention. 9(1), 27-37.

Graham, S., Harris,K., Mason, L., Fink-Chorzempa, B., Moran, S. and Saddler, B. (2007). How do primary grade teachers teach handwriting. A national survey. Reading and Writing 21: 49–69.

Healthy Child Manitoba. (2016-17). The Early Development Instrument (EDI) Report.

Hopkins, Susan and Shepherd, Elisabeth. (2019). Masking Stress with Misbehaviour: A Shanker Self-Reg® Lens. The Journal of Self-Reg, 1(1). Retrieved from https://selfregulationinstitute.org/journal/journal_archives/volume_1_issue_1/#article5

Jackson, L., Polichino, J., and Potter, K. (2006). Transforming caseload to workload in school-based and early intervention occupational therapy services. Retrieved from https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/AboutOT/Professionals/WhatIsOT/CY/Fact-Sheets/Workload-fact.pdf

Missiuna, C., Pollock, N., Campbell, W., Bennett, S., Hecimovich, C., Gaines, R., Molinaro, E. (2012) Use of the Medical Research Council Framework to develop a complex intervention in paediatric occupational therapy: assessing feasibility. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 35(5), 1443-1452.

Truong, V. and Hodgetts, S. (2017). An exploration of teacher perceptions toward occupational therapy and occupational therapy practices: A scoping review. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools and Early Intervention. 10(2). 121-136.

Whalen, S. (2003). Effectiveness of Occupational Therapy in a School-based setting. Retrieved from https://www.canchild.ca/en/resources/201-effectiveness-of-occupational-therapy-in-the-school-environment.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning:

  1. Utilize a 3-tiered model to deliver Occupational Therapy services to schools, as it effectively supports Occupational Therapist’s contribution to education and learning, emphasizing collaboration, building capacity, early intervention and addressing student learning needs before a student gets too far behind or needs to be referred to specialized services. This will strengthen the preventative and proactive components of the entire education system, and has been shown to be a cost-effective method of using school-based occupational therapists.
  2. Implement systemic changes to enable occupational therapists adequate time required to establish collaborative, dynamic team relationships with teachers and administrators by having adequate time allotted and reasonable workload to be in each school environment on a regular and frequent basis to provide both formal and informal meetings to collaborate, provide support and implement programs. Having a direct relationship with a school division supports collaborative teaming with educators and other members of the clinical team (i.e. physiotherapists, speech language pathologists, psychologists and social workers).
  3. Utilize Occupational Therapists to develop, teach and implement mental health curriculum, including health promotion and self-regulation strategies to improve classroom safety.
  4. Engage Occupational Therapists to support safe, positive school and classroom environments through education, observation, collaboration and implementation of practical tools and strategies including: sensory hallways, self-regulation, movement breaks and classroom management tools, and proactive crisis management to decrease stress and improve student attention and engagement.
  5. Provide access to Occupational Therapy services in early years to support early intervention and promote development of foundational skills (e.g. fine and gross motor skills and printing skills), which are critical for children to write with speed and ease in all subject areas, improve educational outcomes and decrease secondary effects of poor self-esteem and academic performance in later years. Implementation of programming may include Tier 1 or 2 screening assessments, co-teaching, and/or small group work. In addition, decrease wait time for individual student assessment for Occupational Therapy to ensure students requiring additional supports are identified earlier upon school-entry (Tier 3).
  6. Consider Occupational Therapists for positions currently filled as specialized teaching positions. Occupational Therapists have a unique skill-set to support schools in these roles.
  7. Utilize Occupational Therapists to educate and support teachers better understand and implement inclusive (Universal Design for Learning) teaching methods of instruction and evaluation during pre-service teacher training, in-services and co-teaching in classrooms.
  8. Consider utilizing rehabilitation assistants to support small group or individualized interventions instead of educational assistants with the additional clinical knowledge and support they can provide, decreasing the amount of time required for training by the Occupational Therapist thereby saving time and money.
  9. All children deserve the supports they need to succeed in school, and participate in meaningful ways. Timely access to Occupational Therapy services province-wide will improve appropriate educational programming for all.

Teaching:

  1. Utilize a 3-tiered model to deliver Occupational Therapy services to schools, as it effectively supports Occupational Therapist’s contribution to education and learning, emphasizing collaboration, building capacity of educators, early intervention and addressing student learning needs before a student gets too far behind or needs to be referred to specialized services. This will strengthen the preventative and proactive components of the entire education system, and has been shown to be a cost-effective method of using school-based occupational therapists.
  2. Implement systemic changes to enable occupational therapists adequate time required to establish collaborative, dynamic team relationships with teachers and administrators by having adequate time allotted and reasonable workload to be in each school environment on a regular and frequent basis to provide both formal and informal meetings to collaborate, provide support and implement programs. Having a direct relationship with a school division supports collaborative teaming with educators and other members of the clinical team (i.e. physiotherapists, speech language pathologists, psychologists and social workers).
  3. Provide explicit education for teachers and administrators about the specific role of occupational therapists in the school context, both for pre-service teachers and current school staff to enhance understanding and collaboration, as indicated in the literature.
  4. Utilize Occupational Therapists to educate and support teachers better understand and implement inclusive (Universal Design for Learning) teaching methods of instruction and evaluation during pre-service teacher training, in-services and co-teaching in classrooms.
  5. Consider Occupational Therapists for positions currently filled as specialized teaching positions. Occupational Therapists have a unique skill-set to support schools in these roles.

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance:

  1. Utilize a 3-tiered model to deliver Occupational Therapy services to schools, as it is a cost effective way to support Occupational Therapist’s contribution to education and learning, emphasizing collaboration, building capacity of educators, early intervention and addressing student learning needs before a student gets too far behind or needs to be referred to specialized services. This will strengthen the preventative and proactive components of the entire education system, and has been shown to be a cost-effective method of using school-based occupational therapists.
  2. Implement systemic changes to enable occupational therapists adequate time required to establish collaborative, dynamic team relationships with teachers and administrators by having adequate time allotted and reasonable workload to be in each school environment on a regular and frequent basis to provide both formal and informal meetings to collaborate, provide support and implement programs. Having a direct relationship with a school division supports collaborative teaming with educators and other members of the clinical team (i.e. physiotherapists, speech language pathologists, psychologists and social workers).

Funding:

  1. Utilize a 3-tiered model to deliver Occupational Therapy services to schools, as it is a cost effective way to support Occupational Therapist’s contribution to education and learning, emphasizing collaboration, building capacity of educators, early intervention and addressing student learning needs before a student gets too far behind or needs to be referred to specialized services. This will strengthen the preventative and proactive components of the entire education system, and has been shown to be a cost-effective method of using school-based occupational therapists.
  2. Implement systemic changes to enable occupational therapists adequate time required to establish collaborative, dynamic team relationships with teachers and administrators by having adequate time allotted and reasonable workload to be in each school environment on a regular and frequent basis to provide both formal and informal meetings to collaborate, provide support and implement programs. Having a direct relationship with a school division supports collaborative teaming with educators and other members of the clinical team (i.e. physiotherapists, speech language pathologists, psychologists and social workers).

Brief 34

Date Received: 5/30/2019

Name: Kathleen Vyrauen, NEC Chair

Organization: Joint submission from Newcomer Education Coalition and Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Who We Are
The Newcomer Education Coalition (NEC) is a multi-stakeholder alliance that works collaboratively with various groups including settlement agencies, educational institutions, community based organizations, ethno-cultural communities, health and social service agencies, and the provincial government to create more welcoming, inclusive, and equitable schools for immigrant and refugee students and their families in Manitoba.

The Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations (MANSO) is a non-profit umbrella organization for settlement service providers in Manitoba. It has almost 70 member organizations, offering settlement programming in communities across the province. These programs offer a wide variety of support to newcomer families, including information and orientation, language training, employment programs, youth programs and community connections. Many of our member organizations work with newcomer youth, either through stand-alone youth programs or as part of holistic programs for families. At least 15 programs operate in direct partnership with school divisions, working to provide additional supports to newcomer students and their families, as well as programs during critical hours and in the summer.

Context

  • According to the 2016 census, Manitoba was the third fastest growing province with a population growth rate of 5.8%. Students from immigrant and refugee backgrounds make up a greater share each year of the student population, and it is critical that their needs are considered._i_ The education system must maintain and expand supports for newcomer youth to meet this growing need.
  • In 2014, Manitoba received the highest number of refugees in its history and the highest number of refugees per capita in Canada. Most recently, there has been a flow of refugees from Syria and Iraq, including Yazidis, adding to ongoing arrivals from Somalia, Eritrea, Congo and other areas of protracted conflict. While some students have formal education backgrounds and a grasp of the English language, many refugees struggle with a myriad of issues during their initial years in Canada, including trauma and interrupted schooling.
  • Offering targeted supports to newcomer students can make the difference between very positive outcomes, and very negative outcomes for students. These supports should be designed for, by, and with these students and their families.
  • The 2017-2023 Manitoba Labour Market Report identifies that approximately 62% of the 166,500 forecasted job openings in this time period will require some post-secondary education and training. Not investing in specific supports for newcomer students can lock them in a cycle of survival jobs while detracting from the labour market of the future.
  • Generally, when newcomer students are well supported all students benefit, and while in some cases targeted supports are needed, many of these recommendations would improve outcomes for K-12 students as a whole.

Recommendations

  1. Long Term Vision
    • NEC and MANSO are part of communities that envision a K-12 system where newcomer children and youth have equitable opportunities to achieve their social and educational goals in culturally safe and supportive environments.
    • Approaching education with an equity lens- investing in targeted supports so that all students have what they need to be successful- is vital so that newcomer students have access to the full range of social and economic opportunities as their Canadian born peers.
  2. Student Learning
    • Newcomer students require culturally safe and trauma-informed learning environments. Youth need to feel that they are listened to and reflected in their learning environment. As detailed in the “Teaching” section, hiring teachers from diverse backgrounds and training teachers in trauma-informed care and cultural competency is key.
    • Additional supports for schools with higher concentrations of newcomer students are needed.
    • Consideration should be given to appropriate outcomes for older youth with interrupted schooling (eg: looking at outcomes beyond “on-time” graduation rates), ensuring that schools are evaluated appropriately for providing supports, when needed, up to age 21.
    • Timely mental health supports are crucial for newcomer students who face additional stressors, including cultural adaption and settlement challenges. Some newcomer students carry significant trauma from their pre-migration experiences, and addressing this is critical for them to learn and develop.
    • There should be specialized culturally appropriate mental health supports directly in schools, including guidance councillors and psychologists who are trained to support newcomer youth with trauma.
    • There is currently a backlog of youth waiting to be assessed. Assessment must be accessible and culturally appropriate.
    • This also requires an initiative to destigmatize mental health issues so that students understand that using support systems is not something to be ashamed of.
    • Lower student to guidance counsellor/psychologist ratios are needed for newcomer youth to connect with resources and plan for their futures.
    • Increased investment in accessible early childhood education is vital. Healthy Child Manitoba emphasizes that early childhood is a pivotal time for brain development and impacts success later in life._iv_ Early childhood education has proven to be very effective in preparing kids for school, learning English, and contributing to their overall development.
    • NEC and MANSO support the Manitoba Teachers’ Society recommendations for free lunch programs as well as small class sizes for K-3 students.
    • NEC and MANSO also support the Sexuality Education Resource Centre’s recommendations that curriculum, resources and all supporting documents need to reflect sexual, gender and relationship diversity to provide relevant education for all students, and that sexuality education needs to be taught and reach all students in every school throughout Manitoba.
    • As detailed in the “Accountability” section, engaging parents and community organizations is vital for student learning.
  3. Teaching
    • School divisions and principals can facilitate a whole-school approach to creating culturally safe and trauma-informed schools, for example by providing trauma-informed care and anti-racism training at all levels of the division.
    • It is important to have teachers, as well as principals and administrators, from diverse backgrounds, including immigrant and refugee teachers, who can inspire and relate to newcomer students._v_
    • Internationally Educated Teachers (IETs) who have received Manitoba teaching certification may still have difficulty getting hired, due to a lack of Canadian experience and a lack of local professional networks. Many end up working as educational assistants. Manitoba Education can promote best practices for the hiring and retention of newcomer educators as well as advocate for opportunities for work experience for IETs. This process can include bridging and mentorship programs as well as more open communication about areas for improvement.
    • Teachers must be well-trained to support immigrant and refugee students, through pre-service, in-service, and post-baccalaureate teacher training in literacy, academics, language and cultural competency. Post-secondary education programs should have mandatory classes in supporting newcomer students as well as optional focused programs for specialists, particularly offering EAL as a teachable subject._vi_
  4. Accountability for student learning
    • Multiple government departments are accountable for student well-being and require investment for student success. Poverty, precarious housing, and lack of mental health supports are major barriers for many newcomer youth to be able to develop, learn, and stay in school.
    • The Province of Manitoba’s 2019 renewed poverty reduction strategy, Pathways to a Better Future: Manitoba’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, has set targets and timelines that were essentially already achieved and do not push the provincial or federal government to make substantial improvements._vii_ NEC and MANSO support Make Poverty History’s recommendation to heed the advice of community and adopt an ambitious, comprehensive plan to end poverty in the province, including the recommendations from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative’s 2015 report The View From Here.
    • Manitoba Education and Training should audit and reform the E-credit system, especially at the 40-level. While these e-designated credits can play an important role in developing pathways for newcomer students, students who graduate high school with 40-level e-credits face significant barriers in pursuing further education. This designation also results in misleading data on graduation rates and does not hold the education system fully accountable for student learning.
    • Schools must be supported in relationship building for parent involvement. Partnering with other funders to invest in Intercultural Support Workers, or similar positions such as Settlement Workers in Schools, is important.
    • Programs and mental health supports are needed for parents so that they can engage in their child’s education and understand how the education system works.
    • The Community Schools Program_viii_ provides support to schools in engaging community and should be continued and expanded. Similar programs are in use elsewhere in Canada and provide additional wrap-around support and resources._ix_
    • Family resource centres and parent rooms provide important spaces for connection to resources and the broader community.
    • Community partnerships can be continued and strengthened to enhance school capacity. Community organizations can bring trauma informed and culturally safe practices into schools. They can also extend the learning day, and the learning year, to minimize learning loss.
    • Bright Futures provides critical supports that have especially significant outcomes for newcomer families, including enhancing graduation rates and increasing post-secondary participation. Support for this program, which includes key programs such as Peaceful Village, IRCOM, Wayfinders, and CSI, should be enhanced.
    • Partnerships with service providers to offer after-school and summer programming should be encouraged, for example through Settlement Workers in Schools and Newcomer Youth Educational Support Service. Newcomer youth cite the importance of these after school programs in supporting their success._x_
  5. Governance
    • While there is a need for coordinated approaches to supporting newcomer youth across school divisions, representing the needs of newcomer youth requires local and diverse voices within the governance structure. Having school trustees who are locally elected, rather than appointed by changing governments, can help maintain the vital stability of the education system, and responsiveness to local needs._xi_ However, there should be additional trustee appointments to reflect the population of the community, e.g. visible minority, Indigenous and disability community representatives.
    • Cultural safety and diverse representation is necessary at all levels of the education system. This requires equity policies and practices with clear targets and timelines, including at the administrative level.
    • A committee of educational stakeholders should be created to oversee systemic changes to the education system, ensuring the specialized educational needs of newcomer students are addressed.
  6. Funding
    • Adopting an equity approach on a provincial level is necessary to provide equitable learning opportunities for all children and youth. As mentioned in the “Accountability” section, economic inequity is one of the greatest threats to student success. Making greater overall investments in education, health care, and housing, particularly in marginalized communities, is vital.
    • Providing robust funding for the supports and partnerships outlined above will not only benefit newcomer students but also support schools in being more inclusive and responsive to the needs of all students.

_i_ The proportion of 0 to 19 year-olds whose mother tongue was a non-official language is increasing. Healthy Child Manitoba, Child and Youth Report, 2017, p. 44, https://manitoba.ca/healthychild/publications/hcm_2017report.pdf.

_ii_ https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/docs/support/ins_grant/index.html

_iii_ Youth are eligible to stay in high school until age 21. Older youth is considered 15-21 and significantly interrupted schooling is considered to be 3 years of limited or no formal education.

_iv_ https://www.gov.mb.ca/healthychild/ecd/index.html

_v_ The Nova Scotia report looks at developing a coordinated workforce strategy with particular attention paid to diversity in teaching. ‘Raise the Bar,’ Recommendation 18, p.38.

_vi_ Mind the Gap: Understanding the Multi-dimensional Needs of Newcomer Students, http://mass.mb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Fall-2018-Literacy.pdf.

_vii_ Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Failing Grade: Manitoba Poverty Reduction Strategy and Budget 2019, https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/failing-grade-manitoba-poverty-reduction-strategy-and-budget-2019

_viii_ https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/csp/unit.html

_ix_ ‘Raise the Bar,’ Recommendation 5, p.31.

_x_ Newcomer Education Coalition Report, Manitoba Newcomer Youth Gatherings Report, 2016, p. 16, https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2s2GTBZOEBfeHd3aTNwT3RNdGM/view.

_xi_ Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Why Strong Manitoba School Boards Matter, https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/Manitoba Office/2019/05/Why Strong School Boards Matter1.pdf

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision:

  • The K-12 education system must adopt an equity approach that includes targeted supports for all students to reach their full potential.

Student Learning:

  • Promote whole-school approaches to cultural safety and trauma informed care with training for all levels of staff.
  • Invest in timely, culturally appropriate and trauma-informed mental health supports within schools.
  • Lower student to guidance counselor ratio so that students have increased access to career counseling, planning and other resource supports.
  • Increase investment in accessible early childhood education.
  • Fund free breakfast and lunch programs for all students in Manitoba.
  • Ensure small class sizes for K-3 students across Manitoba.

Teaching:

  • Provide accessible, specialized pre-service, in-service and post-bachelor teacher training to develop teachers with expertise in teaching EAL students, particularly in the areas of literacy, academics, language, cultural competency (including anti-oppression and anti-racism training), and trauma informed care.
  • Create EAL as a major or minor teachable.
  • Develop clear pathways and supports for internationally educated teachers, including bridging and mentorship programs, that will allow them a smooth and efficient transition back into the classroom.

Accountability for Student Learning:

  • Urge the Provincial Government to implement the poverty reduction approaches outlined in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ report The View from Here, reverse cuts, and allocate adequate resources to end poverty in Manitoba.
  • Audit and reform the E-credit system, notably its implications for student opportunities, maintaining academic rigour and ensuring clear pathways to diverse post secondary options.
  • Invest in programs and staff to facilitate parent involvement and collaboration with community organizations. For example, increase funding to community schools and family resource centres.
  • Partner with community organizations and other levels of government to ensure all schools with high numbers of newcomer students have settlement supports that connect communities, families, students and schools. For example, after-school programs, inter-cultural support workers, community connectors or settlement workers in schools (SWIS), etc.

Governance:

  • Ensure elected, locally controlled education governance structures which also include some appointed positions to ensure diverse representation.
  • Ensure diverse representation of staffing at all levels of the education system through employment equity policies and practices with clear targets and timelines.
  • Create a committee of educational stakeholders to oversee systemic changes to the education system to accommodate the specialized educational needs of newcomer students.

Funding:

  • Increase investment in Intensive Newcomer Support grants and additional funding for schools with higher concentrations of refugee students who face multiple barriers.
  • Invest in specialized and wrap around supports for older newcomer youth with interrupted schooling, including alternative and flexible programming.

Brief 35

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Diane Duma

Organization: Self

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Long Term Vision and purpose:
A long overdue review of the K to 12 Education in Manitoba, not only provides the opportunity for formal and informal public input – it could, if done well, be a great opportunity to reinvigorate critical thinking about the future landscape of public education in this province. There is a need for greater transparency, a greater understanding of what is expected of education, an understanding of whether the present system has the ability to deliver those expectations and what is the cost and what is the public prepared to pay for it.

Public school education, consuming $2.4 billion dollars and increasing annually, roughly educates 200,000 Manitoba pupils, in a province with a total of population of approximately 1.4 million. In other words, each man, woman and child in Manitoba- if broken down equally- would be contributing approximately $1,846 per year to support public school education in this province. The measurements of the quality of education coming out of our schools, should not be left for only the education establishment to assess. All of the students exiting these schools will eventually land at the doorstep of a university, a college, other training programs and /or in the workforce. These are the crucial points for assessments of whether the schools have contributed to the skill development to help students employ their options and launch their future success. Although, the province provides graduation rates annually, I consider this a poor measure of actual skills and knowledge. The assumption that improving graduation rates automatically measures the success of a school system excludes further exploration of the quality of the education and the usefulness of that education in the long term. There have been few if any, to my knowledge, formal or informal evaluations of education from those outside public schools. How much collaboration exists between post secondary, employment training and the work force that would make it possible to gather that information? That, along with feedback from graduating students is a huge information gap that is needed in order to assess the quality and value of public-school education.

Parental Inclusion and Involvement: Despite the 1996 Advisory for School Leadership regulation that outlined subjects and items empowering parents to be involved in; it has not delivered the type of parental involvement that it may have been meant to support. Other types of parent involvement whether as volunteers in the schools or participating in fundraising activities has shown a decline, although it is still more common than involvement in ACSLs. Having voices of parents actively engaged in curriculum, school finances, school plans, report cards, school discipline policies is rare if at all in many schools. Despite Public schools’ regulations regarding the requirement for schools to engage parents in the school plans, nutrition and safe school policies, the engagement is not obvious and rarely encouraged. It is also not evident that parents have any real impact in how education is delivered, how and what is assessed nor on how to provide legitimate feedback and know that some of the feedback will be heard and potentially acted on.

School boards: Mandated to provide fiduciary responsibility and public accountability for K to 12 Education. I would argue that the mandated role does not match the reality. I would also argue that actions by other educational organizations, including the department of education, actually defer most governance items to the superintendents and the secretary treasurers of school divisions. The actual governance role has become obfuscated by contradictory policies and practices recommended by the organizations that are supposed to be supports to boards. The recommended policies have become so endemic across Manitoba boards that to challenge their utility in promoting real board governance is close to futile. In the meantime, boards come under constant scrutiny as there is a mismatch between what the public thinks they do in comparison to what they actually are enabled to do. It has become more and more evident that bureaucracies are increasingly the managers of the education system and the public and the representative elected voices have limited input.

Boards need to be more at arms length and be less influenced by educational organizations. Boards need to have firm employer/employee relationships with their senior staff and understand their legal obligations. Boards need to be more open, transparent and obligated to consult with their public. It would benefit boards to be trained in all aspects of financing from understanding the audit process to school funding and understanding budget development. Boards need to be trained in deliberative debating skills, critical thinking and parliamentary procedures. The quality of discourse, the openness to engaging in rich debates is increasingly lacking, not only at the board level and at various education partner levels, but also in the public square. Education should be important enough to everyone in a democratic society to do everything it can to not just blindly agree, but to demonstrate the intellectual vigour and the curiosity to debate, listen, learn and to seek good evidence before making decisions.

Finances: In contrast to many spokespersons, I would not agree that Education is underfunded. I do believe that the demands made on the education system to support health and social welfare has added extra costs to the education dollar and I don’t see those needs decreasing. What education does not do well is make direct links to expenditures and actual results or benefits for the expenditures.

One example: The education system, through local Boards, provide at substantial cost - the funding of many educational organizations, through subscriptions and memberships with little understanding of the value added for the classroom. In addition, there is little discernment into the credibility, or critical review of resources provided through the multitude of these memberships. The business of education resources and their agencies is an industry in itself that seems to have little oversight, yet through habit and long-standing institutional practices is able to have great influence directly into the public-school classroom.

Education Operating Model:
It seems curious that the management model for education has not had any significant changes to its basic structure. In general, through the public school’s act, there is an understandable requirement for a secretary treasurer but other positions seem to continue as status quo. Often divisions are seen to have superintendents, assistant superintendents, and consultants, with most positions in senior management to be derived from movement of potential candidates from classroom teacher to principal to senior management. With budgets in the millions, there would appear to be few business- oriented CEO’s at the top of these large multi million dollar incorporated organizations. The close alliances of staff within the education sector also make it difficult for anyone to venture out and make any serious changes to this structure without significant negative feedback.

The education system is an insular system that has created over the long term- structures, that have taken on a sustaining system of their own. These structures may have been welcomed and helpful in their early start but over time they have put their focus on self sustainment. At the heart of every decision for education should be the three most important relationships- the student, the teacher and the parents. When structures lose their focus and spend time, money and energy obstructing the inherent relationships and responsibilities of the student, teacher and parent, it is time to reassess their value.

Teachers need to have excellent knowledge of the subject matter they teach.

Parents need to be a part of the educational decision making and ongoing assessments of their child.

Students need to know what is expected of them in their learning and need to know that going to school every day and working hard will result in options and opportunities for success after leaving school.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: Have public confidence in our public schools, that money is being well spent and the focus is on student receiving a solid valued education. Create more school flexibility , innovation and school choice.

Student Learning: Schools need to provide a solid foundation in the basics of reading, writing, math. Beyond that are strong basics in science and history. Beyond that are the arts, music , physical education. At graduation time, students should have the basics to launch themselves further into work or post secondary. Good study skills, work ethic, and a confidence that they have learned well and are ready and prepared to move on.

Teaching: Teachers need to have excellent knowledge of the subject matter they teach.

Accountability for Student Learning: Teachers and school principals are responsible for the student learning, the learning environment in the school, the materials being used to support that learning.

The health , well being and basic needs of the student are the responsibility of the parent.

Governance: Boards need to be more at arms length and be less influenced by educational organizations. Boards need to have firm employer/employee relationships with their senior staff and understand their legal obligations. Boards need to be more open, transparent and obligated to consult with their public. It would benefit boards to be trained in all aspects of financing from understanding the audit process to school funding and understanding budget development. Boards need to be trained in deliberative debating skills, critical thinking and parliamentary procedures. The quality of discourse, the openness to engaging in rich debates is increasingly lacking, not only at the board level and at various education partner levels, but also in the public square. Education should be important enough to everyone in a democratic society to do everything it can to not just blindly agree, but to demonstrate the intellectual vigour and the curiosity to debate, listen, learn and to seek good evidence before making decisions.

Funding: Public school education, consuming $2.4 billion dollars and increasing annually, roughly educates 200,000 Manitoba pupils, in a province with a total of population of approximately 1.4 million. In other words, each man, woman and child in Manitoba- if broken down equally- would be contributing approximately $1,846 per year to support public school education in this province.

The present funding model provides for direct, local responses . Taxation can be controlled by requiring referendums if the tax increase or a planned expense reaches a certain threshold. It makes everyone aware and provides for public response and their approval.

Brief 36

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Christopher

Organization: Mr.

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Teaching
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: INTRODUCTION
This written submission is a report on the current condition of LGBT students in Public and Independent (Funded and Non-Funded) schools across Manitoba. Further, to explain the impact Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA’s) have in the promotion of a positive school environment and the limitations they have under government statutes. The goal is to give an alternate viewpoint of the education system in Manitoba and to promote an atmosphere in Manitoba schools all pupils may be treated as equals regardless of perceived differences such as: sex, race, national origin, sexual orientation gender expression, physical or mental disability, income status, socio-economic power, or any other superficial difference that categorizes us.

GLSEN and EGALE STATISTICS
GLSEN is an organization, originating from the United States, that supports LGBT youth, specifically in individual school environments, by working with students and teachers. GLSEN also uses detailed research to give annual reports on the condition of LGBT youth in schools titled accordingly, National School Climate Survey Report. This report obtains data through a variety of means such as, but not limited to: surveys conducted online, polling school environments, and interviewing individual representatives of different demographics. For the 2017 report,

The final sample consisted of a total of 23,001 students between the ages of 13 and 21. Students were from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and 5 U.S. territories. About two-thirds of the sample (67.5%) was White, a third (34.1%) was cisgender female, and 4 in 10 identified as gay or lesbian (41.6%). The average age of students in the sample was 15.6 years and they were in grades 6 to 12, with the largest numbers in grades 9, 10, and 11.

According to GLSEN’s 2017 report, that year was the first year in over a decade where the condition of LGBT youth worsened, rather than improved. Overall, 59.5% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school. The summary of the findings began with the following distressing statement:

Schools nationwide are hostile environments for a distressing number of LGBTQ students, the overwhelming majority of whom routinely hear anti-LGBTQ language and experience victimization and discrimination at school. As a result, many LGBTQ students avoid school activities or miss school entirely.

That said, GLSEN’s research from its 2017 report shows that almost all of LGBTQ students, 98.5%, have heard the word “gay” used in a negative connotation at school. In addition to the word “gay” being misused, 70% of students heard a variety of other derogatory remarks frequently, if not every day. Furthermore, 56.6% of students have heard homophobic remarks and 71% have heard negative remarks about gender expression from teachers, administration, or other school staff. In addition, 87.3% of LGBT students experienced some form of harassment with less than a half (44.7%) reporting the incident for fear that the issue would not be taken seriously. Of that, 28.9% was physical. In 2018, that number of violence in schools jumped up 65%. In short, because of this, “Hostile School Climate,” according to GLSEN, “…affect_ed_ students’ academic success and mental health. LGBTQ students who experience victimization and discrimination at school have worse educational outcomes and poorer psychological well-being.”

In addition to GLSEN’s research, Egale Canada Human Rights Trust is an organization that conducts research on the condition of the LGBT community in Canada. In 2011, Egale released their own findings as to the condition of schools across Canada, and though completed nearly a decade ago, the statistics paint a clear image as to how the state of affairs within schools for LGBT students have remained basically unchanged.

According to Egale’s report, two-thirds of LGBT students feel unsafe at schools with 70.4% of all students hearing derogatory remarks such as, “that’s so gay,” “faggot,” or, “dyke” every day. Compared to GLSEN’s research in 2017, the same amount of students heard derogatory remarks almost everyday (70%).

LGBTQ YOUTH IN PUBLIC AND INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS
In Manitoba, 90% of the student population (188 744) attends public schools which are governed by The Public Schools Act and The Education Administration Act; the remaining 10% of students (20 052) attend independent schools. Of that, 7% attend funded independent schools, 1% attend non-funded independent schools, and 2% are homeschooled. According to Manitoba law, funded independent schools must use provincial curriculum, employ Manitoba certified teachers, and must meet provincial requirements.

According to GLSEN’s research, LGBT public school students were more likely to hear biased remarks, prejudices, and stereotypes while students in religious based private schools reported the most anti-LGBT discrimination. Considering that, students in non-religious private schools reported the least amount of anti-LGBT related slang or discrimination.

According to GLSEN and Egale’s research, solutions to the issues of violence and harassment stated above include having LGBT inclusive curriculum, educated teaching staff, implementing human diversity policies, and instituting Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA’s). When in the presence of a GSA: students were less likely to hear “gay” used in a negative way by 15 points; were less likely to feel unsafe by 15 points; and “felt greater belonging to their school community.”

THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ACT – AMENDMENT BILL 18
In 2013, the Manitoba Government passed Bill 18 which amended The Public Schools Act to protect students from bullying. Among other changes to the Act, subsection 41(1.6) to (1.8) were added which dictates the responsibilities of school boards. This addition made it a requirement for school boards to adopt a human diversity policy in accordance with The Human Rights Code.

In addition to The Human Rights Code requirement, school boards now would also have to include a section that explains the process in the case that a student wants to establish and lead activities such as a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA).

In accordance with The Public Schools Act, the Manitoba Catholic Schools Board adopted a Respect for Human Dignity and Equality Policy which states in Article 14, following a detailed list of articles that promise inclusion, that,

The Board will accommodate students as per the Administrative Guidelines for Student Groups in Catholic Schools who wish to lead activities and organizations that promote a positive school environment in the framework of a Catholic learning environment based on the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Yet, when the cross reference titled Administrative Guidelines for Student Groups in Catholic Schools is analyzed, as stated above, it appears a bit harsher, or stricter than the human dignity policy the government originally approved. While still stating that all Catholic Schools support “positive practices,” the cross reference guideline lists restrictions by the twelvefold for the creation of a group under subsection 41 (1.8) of The Public Schools Act. Below is a list of quotations, supporting the idea that the cross reference has too much rigidity associated with it and has created an even worse atmosphere for students.

Article 1. Students who desire to establish a student group or organize a specific student activity must submit a written proposal in the form attached as Appendix A for the review and consideration of the Principal.

Article 3. Prior to an initial meeting of the student group, the Principal shall:
(b) Invite the Chaplaincy leader to participate in group meetings whenever possible
(c) Clarify the objectives of the group with the staff advisor and provide any necessary in-service. For reference see: ‘Pastoral Guidelines to Assist Students of Same-Sex Orientation’ (2004) and… ‘Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction’ (2011).

Article 5. The Principal shall ensure that student groups and activities are not used to protest against or advocate for anything that is not in accord with the Catholic Church teaching.

Article 6. All materials for group use and all materials for school/community awareness shall be review and approved by the staff advisor and the principal.

Article 10. The principal shall recommend that groups established under these guidelines be named “Respect for Human Dignity and Equality.”

The club that was once stated in The Public Schools Act to be for, “pupils who want to establish and lead activities,” is now entirely in the hands of school staff.

CONCLUSION
The Administrative Guidelines for Student Groups in Catholic Schools and The Public Schools Act are opposing pieces of rules. If funded independent schools, truly need to follow The Public Schools Act, policies such as this cannot continue. Religious schools in Manitoba are being allowed to supersede over an individual’s right to be themselves. Still, the goal should not be for one party to over power the next, but rather, to develop an atmosphere where a balance between students’ freedom of expression and an individual’s personal belief can coincide in a positive school environment

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: In conclusion, all of this is related. When students are treated equally and feel welcomed at school, they will attend school; thus student learning will improve, and so on. Teaching is related to student learning, student learning is related to overall treatment, that overall treatment is dependent on the GSA's, which falls in the lap of the government. Students should learn to treat one another with kindness and respect first and foremost, not through fear and prejudices. That to me, and I feel for many, is a far greater attribute than achieving an A on an exam. K - 12 education should not be a time of fear, school is hard enough as it is. With that, there is no doubt in my mind, that a Gay-Straight Alliance can help a school, and even then, if it's only one child, that's good enough for me - they just need to be easier to create and organize.

Student Learning: N/A

Teaching:

  • Education and training of teachers to improve the lives of LGBT students
  • Increased staff for students to speak with (i.e. school counsellors)
  • LGBT inclusive curriculum
  • Administration of schools to be involved

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance:

  • Reform in the Public Schools Act to close loop holes for funded independent religious schools to avoid GSA's

Funding: N/A

Brief 37

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Megan Bale-Nick and Jennifer Wojcik

Organization: Dietitians of Canada

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: (note: A PDF of our recommendations and brief have also been emailed to: K12educationcommission@gov.mb.ca, May 31, 2019 from: megan.bale-nick@dietitians.ca)

BACKGROUND
Manitoba currently has one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the world, and the number of children in Manitoba with this chronic disease is 12 times higher than any other province(1). Health status during early education years is important, as it is during this time that students develop healthy habits through what they learn, and through the health-related choices they can make in their school food and nutrition environment(2). Poor nutrition and food experiences not only increases the likelihood of developing physical health issues such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and malnutrition, but can negatively impact social and mental health (3). Poor nutrition has been linked to low self-esteem, depression, decreased attention span, and poor learning outcomes in the classroom (3).

Socioeconomic status is also an important factor in childhood nutrition. In Manitoba, 1 in 8 households and 1 in 5 children are food insecure, meaning they have “inadequate or insecure access to food because of financial constraints”(4). Individuals who are food insecure have an increased likelihood of developing one or more chronic physical and/or mental health conditions (5). Children currently spend a large portion of their time at school and have many food choice opportunities at school, which makes the school-built environment an important aspect in positively influencing a student’s eating habits (3). Additionally, the built environments in which children live have the ability to promote physical activity, healthy food choices, mental health, and social well-being (1). Healthy food systems within the built environment support the access and availability of healthy foods and reduce food insecurity by improving access to healthy foods in neighbourhoods and communities (1,6). Programs and policies that increase exposures to healthy built environments, such as the Comprehensive School Health (CSH) framework, can improve health over a lifetime, and be more effective than treating health problems as they arise later in life (1).

Dietitians are passionate about the potential of food to enhance lives and improve health. As the only regulated food and nutrition professionals, dietitians undergo comprehensive and rigorous training and are governed by the highest standards of education and ethics. Dietitians are required to stay on top of emerging research, skills and techniques. Dietitians work in a variety of settings, including with schools. In Manitoba, dietitians work collaboratively with multiple school stakeholders, community organizations, and researchers to deliver evidence-based food and nutrition advice that enhances students’ health and learning in the school environment.

Comprehensive School Health
Health and education are interdependent: healthy students are better learners, and better-educated individuals are healthier. Research has shown that comprehensive school health (CSH) is an effective way to tap into that linkage, improving both health and educational outcomes and encouraging healthy behaviours that last a lifetime (7).

CSH is an internationally recognized framework that aims to move beyond the individual to address school health as a whole, thereby increasing the number of health-enhancing behaviours while also improving educational outcomes in the classroom (8). The framework encompasses four main pillars: A) teaching and learning, B) social and physical environments, C) healthy school policy, and D) partnerships and services. All four pillars need to be addressed in order to implement a healthy school food and nutrition environment (2), and ultimately promote health and wellness across the lifespan. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, a ‘Healthy School Food and Nutrition Environment’ ensures students are provided with “nutritious and appealing foods and beverages, consistent and accurate messages about good nutrition, and ways to learn about and practice healthy eating” (9). Manitoba Healthy Food in Schools, a Manitoba government initiative in partnership with Dietitians of Canada, supports schools and the CSH framework to promote healthy eating, provide access to affordable healthy food and foster positive school food environments. A dietitian is available to provide one-on-one support to schools across the province to implement healthy eating policies and guidelines, provide expertise in menu planning and improve healthy eating environments. The CSH approach allows for individual schools to assess, plan and implement strategies to meet their unique needs.

A) Teaching and Learning
A healthy school food and nutrition environment within the CSH framework recognizes that schools are the ideal environment to teach and role model health promotion behaviours through both formal and informal education (7). Schools provide an opportunity to support students in making healthy choices and gaining knowledge and food skills, which leads to developing food literacy; improving diet quality and habits formed in childhood are more likely to last into adulthood (10,11). Food literacy is a collection of inter-related knowledge, skills, and behaviours required to plan, manage, select, prepare, and eat foods to meet needs and determine food intake (12). These skills, knowledge and competencies are all needed to succeed in life after high school graduation and there are interconnections between education and the array of external factors that impact student learning and teaching. The “Food Literacy Competencies for Young Adults” framework can be used to inform curriculum development, including cross‐curricular programming (13). Food literacy also promotes generic life skills and social competencies, such as effective communication, problem-solving, coping skills, resilience, self-esteem and self-efficacy, which are, in turn, determinants of positive mental health (14). It is important professional development be provided for educators to enhance good health education in the classroom (2). It is also essential we acknowledge that food and eating are highly personal, it is especially important in our increasingly multi-cultural environment. Family values about food and eating are important for maintaining positive relationships with food, and should be respected and celebrated in the school setting.

B) Social and Physical Environment
Schools are widely acknowledged as an appropriate and logical environmental setting in which to promote healthy behaviors, and thus play an important role in the healthy school food and nutrition environment (2). The school food and nutrition environment can include meal times, vending machines, cafeterias/canteens, classroom learning opportunities, nourishment programs, extracurricular activities, fundraising, and social events within the school (15). Health Canada’s Dietary Guidelines for Health Care Professionals and Policy Makers can make an important contribution to nutritional health, as policies that reflect these guidelines can improve the food environment in settings such as schools and workplaces (6). Creating supportive environments across settings can help increase the positive influence that dietary guidelines can have on individuals, families and communities.

C) Healthy School Policy
Implementation of healthy food policies can increase Canadians’ access to healthier foods as part of a broader vision for food policy in Canada (15). Evidence shows that school food and nutrition policies in Manitoba promote healthy patterns of eating focused on balance, variety, and moderation (15). In addition, school food and nutrition policies foster a healthy school food and nutrition environment and promote a learning plan that highlights the importance of healthy eating (16). Schools and school divisions across Canada have created and implemented school food and nutrition policies. Within Manitoba, school food and nutrition policies are mandatory per the Manitoba Public Schools Act (17).

D) Partnerships and Services
Stakeholders in a healthy school food and nutrition environment include those who take a vested interest in the health and nutrition of the students, and the environment in which they grow and learn. This may include school administrators, teachers, school division/district superintendents, students, families, community partnerships, health professionals and researchers (14). Stakeholders are an important key component within the school food and nutrition environment, as they link the school to the broader community, and are involved in the funding, planning, implementing, and modifying programs and services built to enhance school nutrition. In order to understand possible challenges and barriers to implementing a healthy school food and nutrition environment, it is important to gather the opinions of stakeholders (2).

Prepared and submitted on behalf of Dietitians of Canada (Manitoba Region) by:

Jennifer Wojcik, MSc RD
Regional Executive Director, Manitoba and Saskatchewan
Dietitians of Canada
204-451-4316
jennifer.wojcik@dietitians.ca
www.dietitians.ca

Megan Bale-Nick, RD
Manager, Manitoba Healthy Food in Schools
Dietitians of Canada
204-294-2262
megan.bale-nick@dietitians.ca
www.manitoba.ca/healthyschools/foodinschools

REFERENCES

  1. Manitoba Government (2015). Healthy Environments, Healthy People: 2015 Health Status of Manitobans Report. Available from https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/cppho/docs/hehp.pdf
  2. Veugelers, P., and Schwartz, M. (2010). Comprehensive School Health in Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health. 101(S5-S8).
  3. Orava, T., Manske, S., and Hanning, R. (2017). Support for Healthy Eating at Schools According to the Comprehensive School Health Framework: Evaluation During the Early Years of the Ontario School Food and Beverage Policy Implementation. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada. 37(9):303-12.
  4. Tarasuk, V., Mitchell, A., Dachner, N. (2014). Household Food Insecurity in Canada 2012. Research to Identify Policy Options to Reduce Food Insecurity (PROOF), 2014. Available from https://proof.utoronto.ca/resources/proof-annual-reports/annual-report-2014/
  5. Dietitians of Canada (2017). Household Food Insecurity. Available from https://www.dietitians.ca/Dietitians-Views/Food-Security/Household-Food-Insecurity.aspx
  6. Health Canada (2019). Canada’s Dietary Guidelines for Health Professionals and Policy Makers. Available from: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/guidelines/
  7. Joint Consortium for School Health (2008). What is Comprehensive School Health? Available from: http://www.jcsh-cces.ca/upload/JCSH CSH Framework FINAL Nov 08.pdf
  8. Roberts, E., McLeod, N., Montemurro, G., Veugelers, P. J., Gleddie, D., and Storey, K. E. (2016). Implementing Comprehensive School Health in Alberta, Canada: The Principal's Role. Health Promotion International. 31(4):915-24.
  9. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (2017). School Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/schoolnutrition.htm
  10. Dietitians of Canada (2014). Does involvement in food preparation and cooking improve dietary quality? In: Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition® _PEN_. Available from: http://www.pennutrition.com Access only by subscription. Free trials available. Click Sign Up on PEN login page.
  11. Conference Board of Canada (2013). What’s to Eat? Improving Food Literacy in Canada. Available from: https://www.conferenceboard.ca/temp/1518f58d-44a8-40e3-972d-88ca79e0dc2d/14-091_WhatsToEat_CFIC_RPT.pdf
  12. Vidgen, H.A., Gallegos, D. (2014). Defining Food Literacy and Its Components. Appetite. 1(76):50-9.
  13. Barry, M.M. (2009). Addressing the Determinants of Positive Mental Health: concepts, evidence and practice. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 11(3):4-17.
  14. Slater, J., Falkenberg, T., Rutherford, J., and Colatruglio, S. (2018). Food Literacy Competencies: A cCnceptual Framework for Youth Transitioning to Adulthood. International Journal of Consumer Studies. 42(5):547-56.
  15. Raine, K., Atkey, K., Olstad, D.L., Ferdinands, A., Beaulieu, D., Buhler, S., Campbell, N., Cook, B., L’Abbé, M., Lederer, A., Mowat, D., Maharaj, J., Nykiforuk, C., Shelley, J., and Street, J. (2018). Healthy Food Procurement and Nutrition Standards in Public Facilities: Evidence Synthesis and Consensus Policy Recommendations. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada. 38(1):6-17.
  16. Manitoba Government. (2009). Measuring Success: Series Report on Manitoba Healthy Food in Schools 2009 Manitoba School Nutrition Survey Report. Available from: https://www-gov-mb-ca.uml.idm.oclc.org/healthyschools/foodinschools/documents/2009msnsr.pdf
  17. Manitoba Government. (2017). The Public Schools Act: 41(1)3,i,ii. Available from https://web2.gov.mb.ca/laws/statutes/ccsm/p250e.php

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning:

  1. food literacy and food skills education throughout the K-12 curriculum. Integrating food literacy as a key component of the provincial literacy and numeracy strategy in Manitoba could result in educational, health and social success. Food makes learning relevant through everyday life.
  2. Facilitate a collaborative approach in the development of nutrition-related curriculum that involves dietitians and other stakeholders who have specialized knowledge in developing and teaching nutrition-related curriculum to ensure that current evidence provides the foundation for curriculum and misinformation is avoided.
  3. Encourage schools to involve dietitians in helping to shape and implement school nutrition policies and help create positive school nutrition environments, which can be integrated within existing mental health priorities.
  4. Utilize Comprehensive School Health framework to assess, plan, implement and evaluate school health environments. Specifically, positive school nutrition environments are essential for students to achieve excellence and improve students’ mental and physical wellbeing, ultimately ensuring they are ready to learn.
  5. Ensure schools are reporting, monitoring, and evaluating school nutrition policies annually.

Teaching:

  1. Ensure school staff (administrators, teachers, those working hands-on with food) are supported to participate in ongoing learning and professional development opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills of food and nutrition and the connection to students’ learning and health.

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance:

  1. Facilitate a collaborative approach to creating healthy school environments that would include multiple government departments and external stakeholders. Dietitians of Canada should be part of this coordinated approach.

Funding:

  1. Increase and sustain annual funding for school breakfast, snack and lunch programs to improve access to nutritious food in schools, ultimately enhancing students’ health, well-being and academic success.

Brief 38

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Damon Johnston, Marileen Bartlett and Sonia Prevost-Derbecker

Organization: Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg and Neeginan College and Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Council Education Committee

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Brief to Manitoba’s Commission on Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education

Brief Outline
The Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Council brings together Indigenous organizations to provide a unified voice to strategically plan, advocate and positively influence outcomes that strengthen the delivery of services and policies for the urban Indigenous community in Winnipeg. The executive council focusses on four main priorities areas in order to achieve its goals, these are;

  • Education and Training,
  • Housing,
  • Strengthening Families, and
  • Health and Well-being

This brief is being submitted on behalf of the Education Committee of the Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Council and the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg

Long Term Vision: What should the goals and purpose of K-12 education be in a rapidly changing world? While there is a whole host of educational issues and concerns impacting educational outcomes today, we are choosing to focus our brief on issues as they relate to Indigenous learners. The rapidly changing world we live in poses many challenges in the education of Indigenous students. Like all communities we require our education system to support the development of well rounded, highly skilled students who upon graduation are equipped with the skills necessary to become leaders of tomorrow. These students must have an understanding of who they are and have a sense of belonging with the community, a mastery of skills to contribute, a level of independence that will lead to sustainability, and an understanding that through generosity we must all give of ourselves to support the whole community.

Student Learning: What are the conditions required to achieve excellence in student achievement and outcomes in Manitoba
In order to achieve the above vision, we must create the conditions of cultural safety in our classrooms and school systems structures. Students and families must be able to see themselves reflected in their classroom teachers, the curriculum content that is being taught and the management and system that governs them. This has been echoed in a number of research reports over the past 6 years. In 2011, 17% of the total population of Manitoba identified as being Indigenous. In 2013 Aboriginal Teacher Questionnaire Report indicates 14,359 teachers employed in Manitoba provincial schools, with 1,313 or 9% self-identifying as Indigenous.

Likewise, the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Report identified the need for more Indigenous knowledge, teaching methods, and teachers to eliminate education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Finally, 2016 Manitoba Auditor General Report identified that the need for more Indigenous teachers and that the gap between teachers and students that identify as being Indigenous is growing in Manitoba.

While there are few current Indigenous teachers in the field, we also currently know that there are not enough Indigenous teachers graduating to meet the need. In 2016, the Faculty of Education at the U of Manitoba set diversity category targets for Indigenous students at 15% of the applicants to the faculty. Between 2011-2015, the average number of Indigenous B.Ed graduates at the University of Manitoba was 12 students, or 5.2% of total faculty graduating students. The University of Winnipeg had an average of 23 Indigenous graduates, or 6.6% of the total faculty graduating students. It is evident that 35 Indigenous teacher per year is not enough to meet the broader need. Faculties of Education will not be able to expand the needed supply of Indigenous teacher graduates on their own and need to continue to work in partnership with school divisions and Indigenous organizations to develop a broader range of teacher education program strategies and initiatives such as Indigenous led teacher education programs.

Teaching: How can teachers and school leaders become more effective?
It is recognized that while education is an area were there is much hope for future opportunities in the Indigenous population, it is also an area that faces many challenges. Indigenous people have some of the lowest graduation rates for both high school and post-secondary education in the country, there is a lack of support for Indigenous students in urban settings, there are limited early education options such as head start and there is a need for more Indigenous run schools. Senator Murray Sinclair said, “Education is what has gotten us into this mess and education is what will get us out of it”.

Currently our adult education systems deal with the failings of this early K-12 system that has produced far too many Indigenous students that are either not graduating or are graduating with limited skills to obtain sustainable independence. Creating cultural safety in classrooms and schools will go a long way to changing these outcomes.

Likewise, authentic engagement with the community is necessary to ensure trust is built and cultural safety is created. It is well known that parent engagement is the number one factor leading to increased student academic outcomes. It is also well known that the school system has a long history of poor engagement with Indigenous parents and in fact past colonial approaches have supported disenfranchised relationships between the cultures with the background assumptions that assimilation was a better agenda. It is time for a significant mind shift in this historical relationship with purposeful outreach to parents and community accompanied by thoughtful policy and funding support. It is time to give voice to Indigenous community and listen to the solutions they identify.

Governance: What type of governance structures are needed to create a coordinated and relevant education system?
Historically the education system has operated with a one-way communication path; experts tell us how our children need to learn, what they need to learn and the structure of governance they will learn in. This antiquated system has not produced acceptable outcomes at the school or governance level. It is now understood for continuous meaningful improvement in these outcomes Indigenous people need to be at the decision-making table to truly affect change in the system that is impacting their children. There have been several examples of alternative governance structures that have enabled more equity at the all levels. In particular as noted in Avis Glazes report “Raise the Bar”, the Halifax school board has held specific seats for black and Indigenous representatives to insure equitable and demographic representation in the system. Given the high % of Indigenous students that attend schools in Winnipeg, a similar equity leadership structure should be considered.

Funding: what actions are taken to ensure that the education system is sustainable and provides equitable learning opportunities for all children and youth.
It is well understood that equity is not equality. Following this concept our governments and school divisions cannot continue to fund our wealthiest and poorest schools or communities with the same funding formula and expect the same outcomes. Clearly, we need to refocus towards greater equalization and equity. This equity lens requires a specific allocation of funding to meet the needs of Indigenous community. While there is currently a minimal amount of funding allocated towards Indigenous community needs through the AAA funding portal, it is not understood by the general educational community what this funding is allocated for. This speaks to a broader issue of transparency and the need to effectively communicate what and how we are using our education money.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: Governments need to create the conditions of cultural safety in our classrooms and school systems structures by creating policies and priorities that support this.

Student Learning: Work with community to develop strategies that will lead to an increase in Indigenous teacher graduates.

Develop a teacher education training program that is led by an Indigenous organization or entity.

Teaching: Create a space for authentic and ongoing engagement with the Indigenous community and work with us towards jointly supported solutions.

Accountability for Student Learning: Make learning relevant to students with curriculum and content that is reflective of their culture and lives.

Governance: Mandate equity positions for Indigenous candidates for school boards in Winnipeg.

Funding: Government needs to strive towards greater transparency in what and how they are allocating and spending Indigenous education money.

Brief 39

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Craig Johnson

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: As this is a personal submission, I feel it is incumbent to explain my own experiences that contribute to my comments, opinions and recommendations.

I have had my own K-12 experience with a unique diversity in the 1970s where due to circumstances I attended many elementary and junior high schools. This gave me an option few saw to experience the differences, similarities and diversity of our communities in those days.

I had attended junior high schools in central, suburban Winnipeg and rural Manitoba.

I attended Warren Collegiate and St. John's High School before graduating in 1982.

I attended the University of Manitoba and as a young man served as a member of the University Senate and many of the Faculty Educational Committees and the University of Manitoba Senate Planning and Priorities Committee where I examined the K-12 relationship with post secondary institutions as well as saw the first impact of the K-12 system and how changed impacted then and the workplace.

In my summer employment I worked in both the Legislative Library where I had the opportunity to review many old educational files and documents with the provincial archives that shared the same space and it was an education in our own educational system including the consolidation schools process and the commission reports that existed previously. I had learned a great deal of the past in our educational system in Manitoba.

In another summer job, I co-wrote a report to the DM of Employment Services and Economic Security reviewing the barriers and systemic challenges that existed at the time for persons who were economically dependent and how they could achieve independent self sufficiency. I have been maintaining awareness and understanding of the problems that still exist in this topic today.

I worked in Media Relations and developed a strong issues based knowledge of Manitoba and Canadian news affairs from 1987-1995. This was enhanced by further public participation in both provincial and school board elections in 1989 and 1990 as an unsuccessful but credible candidate. I also served an Inner City representative, elected by the public at a Residential Advisory Group member for central Winnipeg. I also served in 1999 as a Returning Officer for Lord Roberts in central Winnipeg operating a temporary election staff to administer the elections for that constituency in that year's Provincial General Election.

later I joined the Post Secondary Educational System by becoming a Career Services Manager for a Private Vocational Institute. I have 19.5 years experience to date where I have worked with over 5000 Manitoban Graduates of all adult ages, all backgrounds, rural, central Winnipeg, suburban Winnipeg Northern Communities, Newcomers from all continents and many proud Indigenous learners. In this role, I live the deficiencies in the skills shortages with our K-12 system and while post secondary can provide some remedial education, there are tremendous gaps where skills shortages exist in the workplace.

In addition to working with my students and graduates to find temporary part time employment, long term career employment, I soon saw the deficiency in the K-12 system in terms of basic literacy/numeracy, life skills and business skills. I taught adult learners communication skills, conflict management skills, team building, critical thinking, time management, personality assessment, study skills, reading skills, resume writing, job seeking and interview skills. I counsel job seekers and work with past graduates unconditionally maintaining a strong network of many graduates who became successful employees in their field and later becoming leaders and managers.

I have worked with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce serving as a representative and was nominated by them for the Apprenticeship Board and served as their representative for over 7 years as a member of the Technical Vocational Educational Advisory Committee. Some of my areas of focus was on addressing the Skill Shortages with graduates of the K-12 system as well as helping newcomers receive accreditation and prior learning recognition. I also worked with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce with their Workforce Task Force which also examined many challenges in these areas.

I served as a member of TVEAC from its beginning until it was allowed to wither away. This was a terrific method of bringing sustainable, reasoned change involving all stakeholders and presented a model to allow for ideas, innovations and community based development. While it took much work, many meetings and a lot of sharing, it built bridges between stakeholders and developed a tremendous brain trust for knowledge and ideas. The Initiative was a tremendous model of how educational services may be delivered across the board involving all areas of the K-12 system.

I was elected as a School Board Trustee for the St. James Assiniboia School Division Board of Trustees where I served as Chair of the Finance Committee for three years, delivering budgets in times of growing tightening budgets and the complex relationship of public education financing. I also served as Chair of the Marketing Committee building relationships to parents, stakeholders and community members while serving as a representative of the Division to the Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce. I also served on the Personal Committee and worked with Administration in a French Language Middle Schools realignment. I have attended 9 Canadian School Board Association Congresses and over 7 Indigenous Gatherings through the CSBA. These provided me with a direct link to those who have been on other paths in different provinces. Sometimes averting disastrous actions such as plans in Quebec's English Language School System which were averted but also seeing the negative results of removing taxation from School Boards or centralizing Collective Agreement negotiations. I networked and learned about best practices, innovative ideas and the new challenges that effected other educators before the needs became more acute in Manitoba. I attended the American NSBA convention and spoke to American educators learning how much I appreciated and believed in the Manitoba and Canadian models.

My nationalism and Canadian/Manitoban pride were renewed upon seeing how many negative consequences to public education in the US has been occurring over the last decades. Again, the Canadian experiment is one of decentralization from Day One of the BNA Act and one can observe how provincial jurisdiction has removed the ominous and heavy handed actions of a national government as the US example shows.

In the words of Joe Clark, Canada is a Community of Communities. Our education system reflects that and respects that. We must nourish our education system that is decentralized to provide community control and local choices. Our country is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a beacon for personal liberty.

We must cherish these in our education system and nurture this. This includes operating funding for school boards, an end to centralization in areas that are non traditional for the Province, greater information to the public on performance of students that is managed correctly, maintain existing taxation but focusing on the name Local Improvement rather than core funding. The ratepayers need to know their tax dollars are going for enhancements while core funding needs to be restored from the Province.

School Trustees need to have an enhanced profile. They fill a unique role as legislators, adjudicators in final appeals, policy makers, and a corporate board.

The MSBA made fundamental errors in going to a pure corporate model at the expense of the political model that was more common with the previous Manitoba Associations of School Trustees. This is where the school board system needs to improve. The system is not broken but needs to go back to its roots roles and responsibilities. The danger of groupthink is always a challenge with every organization. This is why diversity of opinion chosen by ward electors matters.

A bureaucracy that replaces a school board in provinces like Nova Scotia cannot nor is incapable of being that role. An advisory group no matter how chosen cannot have a community focus unless it has control over its own taxation. That is what an elected authority bases its right to tax from the right of being elected. This is enshrined in Parliamentary history and is the foundation of the division of roles between executive and legislative functions in parliamentary government.

The centralization policy of the Province of Manitoba and the intrusion of its role in interfering and making short term orders to school division on how to govern is the number one problem. This is what brought down performance in the long run and is at the systematic root of most of the problems in education in Manitoba. Our successes have been in spite of underfunding by previous governments, poorly planned funding formulas like TIG, dictated orders on how to manage classrooms like K-3/20 which is an internal matter between School Divisions, Parents, Teachers Representatives and other local stakeholders. The ban on school closures and forced introduction of social justice politicizing policies, mandatory physical education in Grade 12 are a few of many of the decisions that contributed to the undermining of public education in Manitoba.

Another challenge is the need for cross jurisdictional agency to co-operate and collaborate. New school capital projects have been repeatedly harassed and thwarted by the red tape and rivalries between mandarins in City Hall in Winnipeg. This is another matter but it has real impact on program delivery.

The Province mandates accessibility but had blocked its implementation 2010-2016 through the Public Schools Finance Board. Repeatedly, I can count the local requests made were denied and sometimes a child needing accessibility renovations only received them nearly at the end of their time at the school.

The relationship between daycare providers and school divisions needs to be supported by the Province or School Divisions need to be given a clear mandate to focus on K-12 delivery as paramount.

While I support strong healthy daycares as part of our educational community, when their presence in a school is a challenge to delivery of a growing school with k-12 needs, it is incumbent on the Province to support both stakeholders by either providing the means to grow the physical needs of the building or provide a new home for the daycare. The school division needs to not be focused on being a landlord for our needed daycare providers.

The Quebec Creche model is worthy example however it is doubtful if Manitoba can afford that in the near future.

While outside the K-12 Commission - which has a colossal mandate in itself, the Public University/College and Post Secondary Educational System is in need of serious review and restructuring.

Lastly the role of the Commission is not enviable. Each of its point could and perhaps should have been undertaken by a specialized commission unto itself. I would have preferred the Commission to have been a Royal Commission with all the rights therein, however I welcome the commission and realize that the timeframe may not be sufficient for the mammoth task that they are undertaking.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: If one is lost in the forest one needs to step back until one finds their place again. Manitoba Education needs to do this. After the major wrong turns that occurred after 2008, there have been a need to find its ground, establish its priorities and allow for new relationships with school divisions, stakeholders and most of all parents and learners.

Manitoba Education should follow other provinces in shifting from one ministry to two ministries. If not two ministries then two Deputy Ministers. One for K-12 and the other for Training and Post Secondary. The 1997 Agreement with the Federal Government on E1 Training is effectively still the main model for provincial training in that area and K-12 should have a different administrative system than post secondary and training. Around 2008, the departments were consolidated under one deputy minister which was a grave error as it allowed for individual with certain priorities to make those overarching at the expense of the bread and butter issues of each department. Examples began with Green Energy in 2007-2010 then followed by the disastrous social justice priority that lasted until 2016. Regardless of the merits of these concerns, they drained the resources of the Education Department across the board and diverted already scarce resources to these pet projects in every branch of the department.

My vision is that stakeholders are involved in the respective aspects and branches of each part of the Educational picture. The TVI model 2001-2008 ish is a superb example of this.

School Divisions are funded to 80% of Operating Budgets as they were in 1985 and they are allowed to focus the money raised in local levies on strategic initiatives and meeting local needs School Divisions are allowed traditional autonomy that had been stripped away from 2010-2016. This includes school closures and also amalgamations need to be supported by the voters in that area as was done with Duff Roblin's consolidation.

Literacy and numeracy are prioritized further. Civics replaces social justice. Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics are strengthened along with History. The proposal in the 1990s to eliminate mandatory physical education at high school needs to be endorsed as today's implementation of this has become a paper pushing exercise. There are only a limited number of hours in a school week and we need to set priorities and create more options instead of mandating our way out of messes and creating new ones. This has been the case from 2008-2016.

School Divisions need to retain taxation including enhanced Residential 2 and keep their commercial allotment. Operating reserves need to be protected and encouraged as a rainy day fund instead of being mandated to be reduced. The role of school divisions needs to be enhanced and its role included to work closer with business and increased fundamental business math and learning.

Student Learning:

  • Back to the basics. Multiplication table for example. Literacy and numeracy.
  • No more politicizing the curriculum with the social justice mandate
  • Curriculums need to include STEM, Business, Life Skills including home economics.
  • Traditional learning including history, geography, Manitoba and Canadian history need to be included but unbiased and not focused on a political or social agenda.
  • The problems with the poor scores is based on the provincial educational department mandating social agendas and new learning concepts that have been unproven. Too many centralized decisions caused the mess we are in. Centralization IS the problem while a stronger decentralized community focused area will have a prioritization in what parents want, employers need and what is required in order for our constitutional democratic system based on individualism to thrive and prosper. Too much focus on equity at the expense of equality.
  • Skills need to focus on the foundation of Canadian Basic Skills as had existed then followed by enhanced and enriched learning.
  • A successful high school graduate needs to know how to do business math regardless of their academic targets after graduation. Higher algebra is necessary for sciences and some business training however all persons need to balance personal accounts and make change and tell time with a chronometer style watch or clock. Cursive handwriting is a technology that needs to still be known as it is faster to write or print on paper than use a handheld device.
  • Technology must supplement and enhance traditional learning not replace it. New technology is a wonderful tool with tremendous and sometimes yet unforeseen applications but needs to be focused on the target
  • School divisions are the laboratories and incubators of new development, best practices and voluntary collaborative support. This entails improved learning outcomes, techniques and initiatives. A centralized body is too slow, to cumbersome and with too many stakeholders to adapt many embryonic changes and experiments.
  • Vocational training needs to be strengthened and the vocational option needs to be nurtured and supported including educating parents to the benefits of this.
  • There is a role for Alternative Schools though the name of such schools needs to be normalized and destigmatized. Mainstreaming everyone is not in the best interests of the majority nor those who need specialized assistance.
  • Alternative schools and collaboration with the best practices of adult education centres also can be a tremendous opportunity to increase graduation rates and provide efficient low cost support for high school educators.
  • Career focus and altitudinal testing along with nurturing interests needs to continue to start even in Middle School.
  • The Junior High and Senior High models need to be re-examined. I never was comfortable with Grade 9s going to high school. I experienced both the High School and Collegiate model and favoured my own personal experience in the 3 Year High School Model. I favoured going back to the 100,200,300 formula for High School instead of the more American 4 year model.

Teaching: The TVEAC Model is a tremendous method of learning to reform teaching and program delivery through experimental grants, upgrades in the technical vocational educational model and a possible pedagogical opportunity to improve best practices. SAG and other learning events need to be nurtured and strengthened. Educational models of training trainers needs to continue to be positive outcome based and competency based. Pedagogy needs to be focused on results but also on ensuring flexibility exists for innovation. Outdoor learning is a tremendous way to make learning fun as long as results are encouraged. Open area learning is not necessarily that strong because individualized competitive based learning has a strong place in pedagogy which encouraged achievement and individual opportunity for growth.

We must resist the need to adopt social justice trends of the day when it puts fundamentals in jeopardy. Diversity needs to be embraced and so much to be learned from our Indigenous, rural/urban and newcomer communities while still also cherishing our traditions and history. A stew or mosaic cannot be strong without its fundamentals and foundation components but can learn to grow with new ingredients.

Tolerance is a virtue, knowledge is a key to ignorance. Sharing each other's cultural pride, food and knowledge is enriching.

While the wrongs of past need to be visible, we must also celebrate our past and why we are Canadian. We must not practice educational iconoclasm but instead follow many teachings of elders who encourage all knowledge to be shared. Books and learning need to not be censored if they are old and do not reflect current values but instead must be viewed in their place in time. We cannot practice Orwellian rewriting of history but need to embrace the good and the bad and view history objectively rather than any subjective viewpoint.

Accountability for Student Learning:

  • Accountability needs to be competency based, flexible and standardized. A grade based performance based standardized report card will go along way. I reject personality observations and behaviour reporting as I think different reporting mechanisms can be applied. I think that quantitative measurements should be applied here.

While learning can be defined in multiple ways and different learning styles abound, there is still a need for an equal standardized measurement. Should a single exam prevent a person from passing a grade, no, but I favour it contributing to an quantitative evaluation. Performance based learning needs to include quizzes, regular testing, assignments, verbal activities but none should overweight the others to skew the results.

  • While writing skills are important and necessary, essay writing is over focused in academia and perhaps this may be larger than the mandate of the commission but I would advocate less focus on more on short paper writing skills until Grade 11 in the academic stream.
  • One measurement of success is the workplace. How can high school graduates have the skills to obtain a reasonable entry level job.
  • Do the students have the career skills including job seeking skills. I see thousands of resumes in my many capacities and many are templates from substandard websites while others are the result of high school educators who are using outdated resumes.
  • I think employer stakeholder input is critical.
  • Regional identity of each region and each suburb is paramount. Centralization caused the mess we are in, the enlightened diversification period of the 1990s highlighted how decentralization creates prosperity and enhanced results. Student learning will benefit directly with results focused, SMART goals that are above all - measurable and comparable.
  • All Division scores on standardized tests need to be made available to the public. Some years in the previous government it was extremely difficult even for school board trustees and administrators to see the results of tests. Parents need numbers and the contextual background information to have informed judgements.
  • Elements of the Finland Model I still favour over GERM. While I prefer standardized tests for measurement we must strongly avoid falling into the downward spiral of the GERM usage in the American model. Standardized tests have limits so context is critical. The strongest results in surveys internationally are from educators who do not use the GERM Model. Global Education Reform Movement is not a solution and I favour all to review the critiques from Pasi Salhberg https://pasisahlberg.com/global-educational-reform-movement-is-here/
  • However most of all, we need a community focused, stakeholder driven Made in Manitoba solution.

The examples of the nightmares in education brought on by short sighted "bigger is better" centralizers who created Unicity, Toronto's Megacity and the consolidation of urban school divisions must be abandoned and used only as a warning to others. The Nova Scotia and New Brunswick experiments are also disasters with the gaps only starting to become apparent. These extreme measures are again useful as Passion Plays in short sighted centralization.

Governance: Historically the consolidation into modern school divisions in Manitoba took place in the Roblin Government after a referendum of ratepayers. After the case was made all but one districts voted for consolidation. I would recommend any amalgamation of divisions needs the consent of those governed.

I would favour no urban amalgamation - the reasons are legion against. The easiest reasons include the vast problems of huge urban school divisions in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton. Megacity was a failure just as they failed to observe the problems created by Winnipeg' Unicity in 1971. The destruction of cities and school divisions which were highly functional such as North York and Scarborough did not solve the problems of Toronto School District. All it did was created a larger bureaucracy, more management and less democratic control while costing more and more money.

The Toronto Star article in 2008 was blunt about Megacity for Urban governance and K-12 Education - "

"But as an experiment in local democracy, merger has been a huge failure. The megacity's continued survival is a testament mainly to the efforts of a great civic workforce. Its creation was too hurried. Too much was heaped on its head." https://www.thestar.com/news/2008/01/01/amalgamation_10_years_later.html?fbclid=IwAR0eMvdnjA_53WscqYSZaojiaQrJ4o1iQg-xPL4NZcPhhiS4Bg3TjPwDI38

This question was raised by the National Post - https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/after-years-of-amalgamation-are-canadas-school-boards-too-big-to-succeed

"Broadly, the effect has been to centralize power at the government level, devolve certain authority to individual schools, and cut out the boards in between. But by eroding the autonomy of a formerly crucial layer of governance, the provinces have stumbled into problems worse than simple bureaucratic bloat."

and,

The “three-layered structure” of province-board-school, and a fixed tradition of democratic participation, “which we call the vertical and horizontal axes of governance, seem to us as constituting Canada’s institutional heritage, ‘the traces of our origins,’ to borrow an expression,” they wrote.

The modern trend of amalgamation “raises the question of what will henceforth be ‘local,’ as well as about the democratic legitimacy of authorities further and further removed from the schools and the parents of students.”

There were when Unicity was created, there was a larger more representative council, stronger community committees and local advisory groups but today they are eliminated resulting in greater and greater centralized control by a small council that is dominated by a large bureaucracy. There are more MLAs than there are City of Winnipeg Councillors and the municipal (and school board) levels should be more representative and closer to the people than the legislature members.

We see that unicity perhaps is a mistake that we cannot carry on to our school divisions.
http://ocwtest.freeculture.ca/bitstream/handle/10680/1202/255-1998-Klos-StateofUnicity25YearsLater-WEB.pdf?sequence=1andisAllowed=y

Headingley is an example of a municipality that was able to show how smaller communities can grow and prosper and the City of St. James Assiniboia had it been not fettered by Unicity and urban limit lines has not been allowed to grow and became landlocked until recent North of Saskatchewan Avenue plans. St. James could be allowed to grow into Rosser and St. Francis Xavier as a natural growth area as it includes Headingley. 

Funding: As a wise person told me in 1981, 'you cannot bring up the weak by harming the strong nor enriching the poor by taking from the rich'. The funding model that was originally set up had worked however two things went wrong - I) Funding for operations dropped from 1985 levels to nearly 50% in some divisions because the special level was redirected from special division projects to operations more and more. II) Property taxes were redirected in the 1990s from Residential 2 and this meant a higher load for R1 and Commercial III) the Funding formula became too complicated, too focused on equalization and more complicated, a simpler formula is needed IV) Divisions need to be permitted to raise local levies for special services as the formula was designed to do. There needs to be a greater emphasis on not doing the mistakes done in other provinces who set up the rate across the board or established centralized control.

Local taxation by school boards is accountable to the local residents, the closest level of democracy but allows for local control and local input. This would have been better for the 13 parts of pre-unicity Winnipeg.

The fundamental problem with educational K-12 funding is the deviation from the original model by successive governments. Funding 80% of funding for core activities will allow divisions to focus on local needs, innovation and local input. A simpler easier formula without special backroom deals between favoured divisions is required. Much of this occurred to my observation in other divisions between 2010 and 2016. The focus needs to be on core funding with local projects being the part accountable to local communities. This is why homeowners are facing higher taxes as the tax burden shifted to them for core activities.

A nightmare in the US exists in many jurisdictions where some districts need civic approval and a referendum for an annual budget for operating and also for special funding. This is something a parliamentary democracy like Canada must avoid as this totally contributes to the negative situation with American education.

The other area is labour negotiations, province wide negotiations do not work. This is anecdotally told to me directly from members of the SK negotiating committee for management in 2016. Other provinces have followed this path. Divisions should retain both residential and commercial taxation authority but all divisions need to have nearby future urban land to grow and expand their commercial and residential base.

In Centreport, the deal to give commercial/industrial land immunity from the local levy for a long period of time is counter-productive and I would recommend undoing for future agreements.

Brief 40

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Eric Alper

Organization: Manitoba Association of School Psychologists

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Governance

Brief: The Manitoba Association of School Psychologists (MASP) was founded in 1983 and currently represents the large majority of school psychologists in Manitoba. MASP’s mandate includes advocating for school-based psychological services, promoting and supporting school psychology, developing networks of communication among school psychologists, organizing conferences and workshops that aim to further develop and enhance professional skills and competencies, and promote information to educators and the public regarding school psychology and educational issues.

School psychologists provide a comprehensive range of psychological services to the school community that include psychological assessment, diagnosis, intervention, consultation and prevention.

School psychologists assess many areas of student functioning (including intellectual, educational, behavioural, social, emotional and neurodevelopmental) in order to understand the student’s strengths and needs, and to inform appropriate program planning. Specifically, psycho-educational evaluation informs appropriate evidenced-based interventions to address neurodevelopmental deficits adversely affecting the acquisition of skills relating to psycho-social functioning, literacy and numeracy, and the implementation of adapted and individualized programming for students unable to achieve regular curricular outcomes.

School psychologists consult and collaborate with educators, parents and other professionals to discuss and implement student-focused solutions.

School psychologists are regularly involved in the development and implementation of school-wide and division-wide programs which aim to reduce or prevent the prevalence of problems (e.g. crisis response, risk-threat assessment, bullying prevention).

In Manitoba, school psychology services are organized within a school division’s administrative structure (e.g. clinical or student support services). School staff and students continue to benefit from the close proximity and relationships with the school psychologist and the broad range of services provided.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: In Manitoba, school psychology services are organized within a school division’s administrative structure (e.g. clinical or student support services). School staff and students continue to benefit from the close proximity and relationships with the school psychologist and the broad range of services provided.

Recommendation: School based psychological services are essential and integral to school communities and school divisions.

Therefore, the Manitoba Association of School Psychologists (MASP) recommends that school psychological services continue to be structured and administratively organized within an educational context.

Teaching: In Manitoba, school psychology services are organized within a school division’s administrative structure (e.g. clinical or student support services). School staff and students continue to benefit from the close proximity and relationships with the school psychologist and the broad range of services provided.

Recommendation: School based psychological services are essential and integral to school communities and school divisions.

Therefore, the Manitoba Association of School Psychologists (MASP) recommends that school psychological services continue to be structured and administratively organized within an educational context.

Accountability for Student Learning:

Governance: In Manitoba, school psychology services are organized within a school division’s administrative structure (e.g. clinical or student support services). School staff and students continue to benefit from the close proximity and relationships with the school psychologist and the broad range of services provided.

Recommendation: School based psychological services are essential and integral to school communities and school divisions.

Therefore, the Manitoba Association of School Psychologists (MASP) recommends that school psychological services continue to be structured and administratively organized within an educational context.

Funding: N/A

Brief 41

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Tracy Thibodeau

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning

Brief: Our organizations and our institutions are the most tuned social system that exists in our society. We have seen the organization evolve from an industrial, highly rigid system to one which incorporates the whole of the human - highlighting the importance of flex-time, individual needs and diversity in the make up of the system. Organizations have evolved with the changing needs of society, however our school systems are slow to evolve.

As society evolves faster and faster, there is a need to evolve the school system to be more flexible and adaptable so that today’s student can succeed in tomorrow’s world.

In his book Reinventing Organizations, Frederic Laloux walks through the evolutionary steps of organizations and includes an example of a school system that is evolving beyond the assembly line structure to one which empowers children, provides an environment for teachers to succeed and fosters a community that contributes to successful outcomes for the students.

Not to be forgotten, we've seen significant improvements in the school systems with a focus on inclusive schools, sensory rooms and other initiatives which support and honor the neuro-diversity of today's generations. We've also seen a change in approach where children are less likely to be held back, an approach that results in classrooms with a wide spectrum of understanding of content. Teachers are then putting together curriculum content for delayed learners, a content track for the average learner and even an additional content track for the advance learner. A single teacher teaches a curriculum in three different ways to a single classroom. Clearly there is a better way.

The expectations of today's generations are changing, information is more accessible then ever and tomorrow's homework can easily be accomplished with a "Hey Google..." It has become more important than ever that the learning environment provides for the intrinsic needs of our children to keep them engaged by finding ways to spark the innate sense of curiosity, by creating more opportunities for community engagement and to highlight the importance of being a well-rounded human even over academic performance.

The school environment is a powerful environment to collectively raise socially conscious, community-focused children where learning is seen as a lifelong adventure and not the means to a mark. Organizations are beginning to hire right out of high school (Google, Yahoo) and we see a subtle shift from the importance of a formal education (outside of specialized jobs), to a focus on the overall characteristics of an individual and their ability to learn and grow in to a role.

The future for today's generations can't be fully understood, however studies are predicting that 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven't been invented yet (institute for the Future). As we bring children through the doors of an education system, we do them a disservice by lining them up by age and assigning them to a desk without asking more from them as they progress through the system.

In order to create an environment where children are evolving in preparation for a future unknown, the school system must be a flexible learning environment where children are supported in achieving self-directed learning outcomes as well as fulfilling the requirements of the traditional educational system. At first glance, this may seem like it would require additional inputs from the educators, however, there are other possible ways.

By shifting part of the burden of the responsibility for learning outcomes on a community, that burden is subsequently shifted from the educators, allowing for educators to become, at times, a coach and guide on a learning journey rather than the dictator. As children progress through the education system, they can benefit from having more and more responsibility for learning placed on them. This shift, with proper guidance, can create communities of learning on topics that are most interesting, and thus more likely to engage and take a student toward a vocation.

Community learning, including classrooms beyond the school, can play a part in supporting an environment of learning that helps students continuously evolve and more likely to stay on top of the needs of society, creating marketable skills from team learning environments. This type of classroom can connect students directly to the community and alleviate pressure from the educator and pass some of the responsibility back to the community. It's very easy for community members to comment on the state of today's generation, but what happens when we ask community members, businesses and organizations to be a part of the evolution?

Tomorrow's organization will require a different type of worker and today's education system has a unique opportunity to help our children grow into the individual that contribute to society as a whole. By keeping some of the required elements in place to support the academic path towards post-secondary and specialized training while also opening up the classroom to a different way of learning, we can create an environment where our children of all abilities are well-poised to be a successful contributing member of society tomorrow.

The rise of gig work, remote work and freelance contributions is growing, and our kids need to get clearer on the strengths they can bring to the community through educational programming that allows for skills exploration.

Research has always shown that a number one need for humans is a sense of belonging and community, yet with the rise of social media and online presence, our students are feeling less connected then ever. Once again, the educational system has an opportunity to support and grow social skillsets through a community learning environment that isn't created through age, but through interests and individual developmental progress.

As society evolves and better understands and appreciates the unique differences that each individual has, our education must continue to make room for evolved learning environments. We have seen the benefits of having older students work with younger students, engaging students with the elderly community and providing credits to students engaging in the workforce and the community. These steps are all in the right direction to removing the walls that classrooms have provided but there are more steps to be taken.

Having modular learning that is open to various age groups has shown to be a way that individuals can find time to put extra effort into topics that are more challenging by taking time from topics that they find less difficult easy. Modular learning opens up the classrooms to a community style learning, where individuals can help each other and teachers are more able to provide one-on-one guidance and support to individuals as needed.

We've also seen the impact that programs like "one person for every child" has when a child feels that they have a support person as they progress through the adolescent years. By creating community learning classrooms guided and coached by educators, adolescents can develop a closer coaching relationship with their educators and feel more connected to their learning experience.

The education system has come a long way in the last two decades and made great strides in the last five years, however, society is evolving at an accelerated rate and in order to give our students the best chance of success, we need to look at changing the environment they learn in. Reformed education doesn't need to start with changing the bureaucratic structure that governs the schools, reformed education comes from creating and supporting initiatives that begin to evolve our schools in to learning communities rather than a building with classrooms full of individuals grouped by age.

If the problem statement is that our province is spending more money than most other provinces and receiving poorer outcomes than all provinces, we need to be looking at the environments our students are in and why that environment is not successful. We need to be looking at child poverty and social factors that prevent our students from feeling optimistic about their future. We need to be connecting and building bridges from schools to home to community and business to provide multiple pathways for our children to feel and be successful.

We need to honor the reality of home situations that make learning more challenging and provide opportunities for communities of students to connect over unorthodox curriculum that bring them together, develop meaningful skills and give them meaningful wins to help them move forward.

We need to provide support to children who aren't getting enough to eat, who can't participate in programming because of funding, who try to hide the fact that they don't have proper clothes or school supplies. We need more programming to support the complex environment in the schools and level up the multi-disciplinarian approach to supporting our children.

Every child should have an adult in their life who is watching out for them and who has the means to support them. That is not always available from the home, but our communities and our governments have the means to provide an environment where children feel safe, where they feel a sense of purpose and where they are able to cast a vision for their future.

It may all sound lofty, one would have thought the same of the General Electric company back in 1960 when Jack Welsh proposed a boundaryless organization. But it all starts with a vision and a plan to start with the first steps.

The first steps are not removing the voice that is most connected with the needs of the school and amalgamating school boards. The first step is to give the schools the distributed authority to propose a budget that will support their unique student needs. The first step is to have school administrators look to engage community organizations and break open the classroom walls so that our students can learn both inside and outside the classroom. The first step is to have a government that takes into account the changing needs of our communities and our organizations and to start to open up the education system to embrace a less formal path of learning, to slowly shift expectation of a thirteen year education track and make way for students to move through the education system in ways more aligned with the workforce of tomorrow.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: Schools are viewed as learning communities, where rooms are groupings of individuals working towards common learning objectives because of their individual abilities, not because of their age. All schools have a community engagement role that expresses the purpose of connecting students back to the community in ways that advance their learning and fulfill a need to belong and have purpose. All schools have a business engagement role that expresses the purpose of connecting local business to the students and providing opportunities for assignments to be completed outside the classroom.

Our educators are better able to become the mentors and coaches, encouraging, challenging and supporting learning, while students actively create their own assignments that will help them understand the concepts. Younger classrooms open up to volunteers to help support the student body in their learning with more accessible volunteer opportunities for community members. Older classrooms have an expectation that students will teach and support each other, leveraging the philosophy that "to teach is to learn twice" and giving students an opportunity to better absorb and integrate the content rather than merely memorizing it for the highest mark.

The concept of grades will slowly fade away and modular learning supported by technology will keep our students challenged at their unique learning ability. The makeup of the staff of a learning community includes educators, volunteers, mental health workers, physical education providers, business owners and parents. Students feel connected to the communities they are a part of, they build their own sense of community and they learn skills that go beyond the final exam.

Student Learning: For early learning years, students from higher grades become helpers for students in lower grades with support from an educator in the classroom. Classrooms are comprised of breakouts where students working on the same module are working on it together. This could mean moving in to a different classroom to work on a module that is being provided by a different educator.

For older learning opportunities, students sit down at the beginning of the year to go through the curriculum and propose activities to dive in to the content. For many courses, the educator works with the students to massage a plan that students are mostly excited about and will provide the desired outcomes. Students select different topics to become the expert in and become the teacher of that topic, helping their peers to progress through the assignments. The educator becomes a mentor and guide, ensuring students stay on track are achieving their outcomes, but supporting a more self-directed learning environment.

Core curriculum continues to evolve, bringing in outside community and business members to deliver a unit of content. Other assignments would have students engage in providing back to the community - writing assignments for the local paper and blog posts to spread social consciousness.

Community engagement officers reach out to the community to create opportunities where classrooms come out to libraries, non-profits and businesses to learn. They work with organizations to create and share ideas and share their ideas back to the classroom.

Over time, connections become common place and students are moving from classrooms in the school to classrooms in their community.

Curriculum and learning objectives are posted and educators have the opportunity to utilize resources from outside their classroom to assist in the learning environment.

Teaching: Information is more accessible then ever and the role of the teacher continues to evolve. Teachers are one of the most influential roles in our children's development. By growing the multi-disciplinarian approach to learning in the school systems, teacher's have more time to provide coaching and guidance on topics to help our children be successful.

Teachers need to feel supported with supporting the various abilities and by breaking up classrooms into progressive modules, teachers start to oversee similar abilities on similar modules, helping them have more time with one-on-one support for those that are struggling.

Accountability for Student Learning: Organizations are looking for a different type of worker, it's time that they also start being accountable for helping education systems support that student. The accountability for student learning falls on the student, but with a system that allows for multiple avenues for success, guidance and support from multiple sources and an evolved approach to the student situation. The education system has the best visibility in to the needs of the student and can create recommendations for what support is needed and build those supports in place, with modular learning, flexible classrooms and community involvement.

Governance: There is no one who knows what is needed better than the school that needs it. Holocracy and self-management are an evolved method for organizing that businesses and institutions are adopting to distribute authority, create parameters for individuals and teams to be successful in and allowing those teams to make decisions best suited for those within their influence.

It doesn't make any sense to move decision making further away from the decisions. That will only create further gaps in what unique programming is needed, in being able to honor and support the unique needs of our communities and impede progress on our education system. Decision making needs to be closer to the problems in order to come up with the best solutions.

Funding: Public funding is one of the most proven methods for creating educational programming. However, there are opportunities for governments to create incentive programs to get organizations to fund and contribute to the education system. By creating partnerships between businesses and education systems, companies can increase their pool of applicants, give back to the communities and build bridges to support the worker of the future. Having government establish programs that make this accessible will allow for businesses to plug in to their local schools in meaningful ways, contributing to content, contributing to programming and helping to support students who don't have the support in their homes.

Brief 42

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Janet Forbes

Organization: Inclusion Winnipeg

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Funding

Brief: May 31, 2019

Manitoba’s Commission on Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education

Dear Commissioners,

Inclusion Winnipeg is pleased to provide our perspective on the Manitoba’s Commission on Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education. Our submission to the commission is to bring attention to the benefits of inclusive education in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 education. What do we mean by inclusive education? Stated simply, it is the creation of learning environments that maximize the potential for every young person to receive high quality education alongside their peers in local schools that serve the whole community. An important element of this diversity relates to disability. As many as one in five young people has some form of physical or mental variation from the “norm”. In the past this has been the basis for educational discrimination and segregation…

The right to an inclusive education has been most recently expressed in Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which calls unequivocally on governments to ‘ensure an inclusive system of education at all levels’.” (SOURCE: Advancing Inclusive Education: Keys to transformational change in public education systems; Gordon L. Porter and David Towell, May 2017).

Inclusion Winnipeg is of the strong opinion that “all people with an intellectual disability should be fully included with their peers in regular education, with appropriate supports from early childhood through to post-secondary and adult life-long learning” (SOURCE: Canadian Association of Community Living).

Inclusion Winnipeg is a registered charity which, for 60 years, has been dedicated to making life better for children and adults living with intellectual disabilities. We do this by connecting people, assisting their families to navigate systems and leading the way in advancing their human rights. We promote respect, empowerment and belonging to ensure equality for all.

We would be pleased to present to the Commission if the opportunity arises.

Sincerely,

Janet Forbes
Executive Director

James Kelm
Advocacy Coordinator

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: According to the Canadian Association of Community Living, “sixty per cent of children and youth with an intellectual disability are denied the right to inclusive quality education, resulting in negative impacts on quality of life, health status, income and employment outcomes”.

RECOMMENDATION: All people with an intellectual disability should be fully included with their peers in regular education, with appropriate supports from early childhood through to post-secondary and adult life-long learning.

Student Learning: N/A

Teaching: N/A

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding: Early success in early education, primary and secondary school leads to later success in post-secondary schools, in the workforce and in life. Funding, as it now stands, is barely able to meet current demands to provide a fully inclusive education system for children and youth with intellectual disabilities. Future costs are contained through early intervention and investment in inclusive education.

RECOMMENDATION: All people with an intellectual disability should be fully included with their peers in regular education. Funding should consider the long-term positive benefit of children and youth with intellectual disabilities having appropriate supports from early childhood through to post-secondary and adult life-long learning.

Brief 43

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Provincial Executive

Organization: The Manitoba School Boards Association

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: 2020 VISION

Our brief to the Kindergarten to Grade 12
Education Review Commission

May, 2019
The Manitoba School Boards Association
On behalf of our 38 school board members, we are pleased to contribute to the Commission’s important work.

  1. LONG-TERM VISION

As school boards, our vision is to provide every student with access to the high-quality, equitable educational opportunities that will help them fulfill their potential.

Providing access to equitable education for Indigenous and newcomer communities requires protecting locally offered programs, supports and services, tailored to meet their needs. Achieving reconciliation for Indigenous communities and inclusion for newcomer communities, must remain our compelling objectives, as our province’s growth will be increasingly driven by both of these communities into the future.

All education partners must strengthen capacity to deliver French language programs that also provide access to the cultural dimensions. Meeting ongoing human resource challenges will be important. We believe that protecting the constitutional right of Manitoba’s Franco-manitobaine community to exercise autonomy over programs and services must remain an important guiding principle of education into the future.

Preparing students for the world beyond our classrooms requires balancing a combination of citizenship and social skills, as well as responding to the demands of our province’s economy. We must acknowledge that employment in Manitoba reflects the reality that on-the-job, occupation specific, technical, and post-secondary education and training. These are the new standards for meaningful entry across most every occupation.

We must therefore strive to ensure that all students equipped with the right skills for lifelong learning. Through strong partnerships with local business and industry communities, we must continue to make every effort to provide students with access to career preparation programs. We must ensure they graduate with the resilience and adaptability to respond to diverse career opportunities across their life experience.

  1. STUDENT LEARNING

One size does not fit all when it comes to student learning and success. Schools provide a core program to every student, promoting student equity across the province, while the overall student experience is enhanced by local programs, supports and services provided through the distinct character of each school board. This responds to both community and student needs and remains the ultimate responsibility of public education as a whole.

Over the past century, the number of courses, subjects and programs that have been made available to students has grown substantially and serve to address many needs and priorities. It is important that students receive a rich diversity of educational experiences, to help realize their full promise and potential in life and in career.

Addressing poverty is imperative. Poverty accounts for why two out of ten students do not meet or exceed anticipated standards on assessment exams. Poverty remains evident in attendance and graduation rates, and provincial assessment results.

School board initiatives have achieved demonstrable results in ameliorating the negative impact of poverty on students. Early childhood programs, community schools, wrap-around supports, nutrition programming, after-school and summer learning opportunities, and time management practices, are only a few of the many ways that poverty can and has been addressed.

We recognize that in addressing poverty, early years literacy and numeracy are essential. Nursery, pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten programming provide vital foundations for academic success, especially for students in poverty. Expanding their availability may be an important consideration for improving early childhood learning and readiness to start school.

Responding to language and culture, and promoting accessibility and inclusion remain significant goals towards greater student achievement, performance and success.

Manitoba reports among the highest rates of self-identified disability in Canada. Inclusion, integration and accessibility for students with special needs and exceptionalities as part of mainstream educational programming remains a cornerstone of excellence and equity in student learning.

The Minister and Department of Education, school boards, divisional personnel, students and families each share responsibility for student success, as do First Nations and independent schools, early and adult learning centres. Ultimate responsibility is shared.

From cradle to career, student learning is impacted by the influence of many different individuals, groups and organizations. Each plays an important role in student learning.

School boards regularly partner to offer programs, supports and services that enhance success and equity. This collaboration serves to maintain local autonomy, while achieving efficiencies and enhancing equity province-wide, through sharing of resources and capacity.

Going forward, we believe it is important to explore student learning through both input and outcome indicators, as well as formative and summative evaluations, to reflect the richness of each student’s educational experience. We very much look forward to working with the Government to enhance measurement and assessment for continuous improvement.

It is important for all Manitobans to understand that reviews tend to focus on addressing areas for further improvement. We know that across every aspect of the human experience, we can always do better and improve.

Focus on improvement should not take away from the enduring fact that Manitoba’s system of public education remains one of the best in the world, as determined through measurement of overall student performance and achievement. Addressing poverty can help us to further improve.

  1. TEACHING

The questions of capacity and supply of qualified teachers, educational assistants and other professionals is one key to student learning success. Enhancing, distribution, diversity, targeted subject expertise, and practicum experiences can be addressed under specific review of education-related human resource capacity and supply in Manitoba.

The same applies to professionals who deliver important services in support of the work of our teachers. Addressing clinician supply and capacity will be equally as important.

MSBA believes that providing meaningful professional development, especially for rural and northern teachers, can be promoted through greater implementation of technology. Appropriate resourcing for such opportunities will remain important, while promoting accessibility and equity for students.

The establishment of a regulatory college structure would not benefit Manitoba or strengthen outcomes, even while we do posit that continuous competency-focused improvement can be achieved through enhancements that build upon existing practices.

  1. ACCOUNTABILITY FOR STUDENT SUCCESS

It takes a village to raise a child. Those who contribute to public education each share responsibility and accountability for student success. Proper identification of “who is responsible for what” has always led Manitoba in the right direction: to a deep appreciation of how each part contributes to the whole. We respectfully suggest that accountability for student learning and success in Manitoba is equally shared by many different entities and partners.

Public education has long addressed the many “silos” that tend to divide each of these parts in other jurisdictions, leading to a strong sense of shared accountability among each partner in education. We well understand it is our students and communities who will suffer, if we fail to work together.

Manitoba’s education partners regularly collaborate for better outcomes in public education. Advisory structures that bring education partners together for frequent consultation, as well as inter-jurisdictional working groups at the federal, provincial, and local level, represent added sharing of responsibilities.

MSBA would like to signal its support-in-principle for the current work being undertaken by the Government of Manitoba to adopt balanced scorecard and other integrated data management strategies. Better data management and integration will serve to enhance accountability. We also stand committed to working with the Government and all education partners towards meeting the long-term targets for literacy and numeracy, established in January 2018.

  1. GOVERNANCE

Community-based school boards remain the most appropriate model of local educational governance. School boards are local voices making local choices for the betterment of public education in their communities.

It is the right of every community to exercise democratic representation through local school boards. Two recent MSBA initiatives, an independent public opinion survey and interviews with military veterans, have demonstrated that local autonomy still resonates with communities and deserves protection.

Such right to local autonomy holds for every community, whether majority or minority. Education belongs to every community. Community-led governance closely follows.

Governance comes with accountability. Centralizing decision-making would remove accountability, reduce local community voice, diminish input in decision-making processes, and strain access by constituents to decision-makers. A regional model of school board governance would achieve the same. School boards are not opposed to change. Our sole interest is vested in ensuring that educational governance supports efficiency and responsiveness for the people of Manitoba.

Manitoba has downsized from 54 divisions twenty years ago, to the current 38. Over the past fifty years, total numbers of trustees have decreased 54 percent.

Combined operational expenditures as school boards represents half a cent on every dollar invested in the operations of public education. Increases to trustee remuneration have remained fixed at 0.2 percent each year.

The majority of trustees are parents or grandparents of children in schools, are working professionals who balance full-time employment with their duties as trustees, and hold post-secondary credentials. School boards remain the only level of elected governance where women hold the majority.

Approximately a quarter of trustees represent important diversity categories, including Indigenous peoples, newcomer communities, visible minorities, and persons with disabilities. Twenty percent are bilingual. Communities benefit from this strength and level of representation among school trustees.

School board decisions enhance delivery of programs, services and supports that meet local community needs. MSBA’s “This is Local Choice” series illustrates why school boards matter, through examples of the programmatic diversity across school divisions. Boards remain engaged in ongoing dialogue with communities, in search of further changes that benefit students.

Further reductions to school boards or administrative costs will not strengthen public education, nor serve to promote greater efficiency. They would however, deprive communities of a local focus in the provision of public education. Focus would shift away from student learning and success, towards organizational restructuring and rebalancing. Costs would be maintained if not increased, and the strong program, support and service collaborations that currently exist would become at risk.

The past three election cycles have revealed significant trends:

  • One third of trustees are new to their school board following each election;
  • Two thirds are returned incumbents;
  • Half are elected via democratic contest.

These indicators demonstrate that local democracy is vibrant and dynamic. Each election results in a balance of experienced and new perspectives, promoting stability and growth. Our citizens take an interest in board elections.

School board operations remain non-partisan. Election cycles are not about defining political platforms and policies, but rather about who can best serve the public trust in relation to local education.

Shared services, cost-effectiveness and coordination are achieved through the services hat are provided by the Manitoba School Boards Association. Supporting these services will strengthen our ability to control costs, and maintain employee benefits and student safety.

  1. FUNDING

Based on ongoing consultations with our communities and partners, we believe that the time is long past due in Manitoba for a comprehensive review of taxation, as well as a review of the educational funding formula.

While we advocate for meaningful change, meeting the needs of students across school divisions remains the first priority in terms of building a sustainable funding model. Geographical location, enrolment size, and property assessment each serve to indicate where opportunities for change will not unduly impact students and educational programming.

We believe that movement towards 80 percent provincial funding for educational operating remains a desirable target overall.

Centralized funding will not serve the best interests of students or communities, as our ability to meet local needs requires retention of some fiscal autonomy.

Funding must respond to inflationary pressures to remain sustainable and protect frontline services. Over the past two decades, services have remained largely the same, while costing more to maintain.

Downloading of costs to the public education system from other budget portfolios (health, justice, and social services) has added significantly to school expenditures. Resourcing for these is challenging.

The age of capital and information technology infrastructure means that needs across public education will continue to expand in future. It will be increasingly important to keep pace with need for such investments, to promote safe learning environments for Manitoba’s students and communities.

Were it possible to adapt the annual budget cycle to achieve multi-year investments, this would certainly help address system-wide priorities.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: MSBA would recommend that the Commission:

  1. construct its long-term vision for public education using reliable projections of population growth, by way of supporting the resources necessary to respond, adapt to and sustain educational demands across urban, rural and northern communities.
  2. recognize the need for programming, supports and services that will assist Aboriginal and Indigenous communities, as well as newcomer and refugee communities, to promote their ongoing integration and inclusion within public education and in preparation for labour market entry.
  3. inform its long-term vision for public education by embracing the importance of opportunities for continued excellence through provision of French language (FL1 and FL2) programming, supports and services– both to respond to the constitutional rights of the Francophone minority language community in Manitoba and also to meet parental and student demand for French language education at the FL2 level, including basic and immersion programs.
  4. recognize the importance of maintaining focus on and response to work relevant experience (through high school apprenticeships, work practica, career preparation and other student experiences), as well as through resources for the expansion of dual credit courses and community connectors. This recognition will help to promote ongoing alignment between secondary and post-secondary sectors of study and training while also providing even greater opportunities for student preparedness beyond high school.

Student Learning: MSBA would recommend that the Commission:

  1. review successful programs that demonstrate evidence-based and proven results in addressing the impacts and risks of student poverty, to determine opportunities for possible expansion of such programs to all school divisions across the province in future.
  2. consider opportunities for province-wide expansion of nursery, pre-Kindergarten and full-day Kindergarten programming for optimal early years impact.
  3. consider the importance of Manitoba’s current commitment to integration, inclusion and accessibility for all students, staff and community members by way of promoting the ongoing delivery of equitable, effective and efficient programming, supports and services that serve to meet community needs.
  4. consider evidence-based models that demonstrate the interdependence and interrelationships between all significant providers of education and learning, when responding to the question of ultimate responsibility for student success and learning in Manitoba.
  5. extend consideration to the establishment of a formal, education-focused poverty reduction strategy, led by a working group composed of representatives from the Government of Manitoba, school divisions (school boards, senior administration and teachers), parents and students, to identify and collate promising practices and other initiatives, in order to enhance current response to poverty in the school context. This would help accentuate focus on poverty mitigation in relation to Manitoba Education's poverty reduction strategy.
  6. lend consideration to the establishment of an advisory committee that will be mandated to study alternate and enhanced measurement in student performance and success, in order to ensure that improvement is focused on measures and indicators reflective of both inputs and outputs, while also reflective of both summative and formative learning and evaluation.

Teaching: MSBA would recommend that the Commission:

  1. consider recommendation for a province-wide review of education and training programs designed to respond to the human resource requirements of school divisions in Manitoba, to explore options for optimizing capacity and supply to meet provincial demand.
  2. include a province-wide review of clinician capacity in Manitoba within the scope of the above human resource study, to explore options for optimizing clinician supply to meet provincial demand.
  3. consider that Pupil to Educator Ratios are generally indicative of class size in each province, but that considerable intra-provincial variation does occur, according to class size management choices that reflect autonomy and community context at the local level.
  4. extend consideration to the opportunity for the establishment of a specialized rural and northern technology grant, that will enable delivery of professional development as well as a wider array of secondary courses for pupils, to promote accessibility and equity to expanded learning opportunities.
  5. consider the establishment of a continuous competency framework to help enhance professional practice insight, led by representatives from the Department of Education, school boards, senior administrators, teachers and members representing the public interest. Rather than proceed to regulation of the teacher profession in Manitoba, such a recommendation would help to implement a non-disciplinary strategy for added value to the regular evaluation and feedback procedures that are currently mandated.

Accountability for Student Learning: MSBA would recommend that the Commission:

  1. acknowledge that accountability and responsibility for student learning is in fact shared when it comes to public education in Manitoba and that therefore, enhancement to public education must appropriately contemplate the individual and interdependent roles and responsibilities of each part within this whole.
  2. support current data management strategies focused on achieving balance and identifying relationships between input, output, formative, summative, financial and non-financial measures, indicators and performance drivers, and with encouragement to continue efforts to link key databases relating to social, cultural, economic, academic and other educational indicators towards the establishment of a continuous framework of informed assessment and accountability.

MSBA would note that deepening a sense of shared accountability can also be achieved through fostering of enhanced opportunities for dialogue and meaningful planning and collaboration between three important "systems", including K-12 education providers; educational entities and partners who reflect the educational spectrum from cradle to careers; and entities and partners who reflect the ongoing alignment between education, training and workforce development.

Governance: MSBA would recommend that the Commission:

  1. recognize that the principle of local autonomy remains informative and instructive for the structuration of educational governance in Manitoba, with all community held rights pertaining thereto.
  2. respect the constitutional protection of Manitoba’s Francophone minority language community to continued local governance through the Commission scolaire franco-manitobaine and further, that the Commission recognize that such guarantee and protection reflects the rights that were already held by majority language communities through their local school boards.
  3. support the introduction of enabling legislation by the Government of Manitoba to establish electronic means of satisfying all candidacy and voting responsibilities during future municipal and school board elections.
  4. consider opportunities to extend voting rights to all persons who will merit representation through their taxation during the most recent four year election cycle, including persons whose identities have been confirmed on the Elections Manitoba permanent voters registry and Permanent Residents whose citizenship applications remain in process.
  5. support the introduction of legislation or regulation that shall provide gratis media coverage for school board candidates, in order to promote appropriate public awareness and information concerning school board elections prior to the conclusion of each election.
  6. support amendment to The Municipal and School Board Elections Act, in order to mandate placement of election polling stations in population centres that will enable greater proximity and accessibility for voters on each local registry and further, that municipal and school board ballots be consolidated into one single ballot for each community and at each polling station.

The Commission has inquired about changes to entities other than school boards that may improve governance. In order to strengthen the shared services that are provided by the Manitoba School Boards Association, we recommend that the Commission:

  1. support future exclusion of all fees and rebates associated with maintaining coverage under the Manitoba Schools Insurance Program, from calculation of administrative cost ceilings.
  2. support advocacy by the Manitoba School Boards Association to amend our statutory membership criteria, in order to provide services and programming to First Nations, Métis and Inuit education providers.

In general we would also strongly encourage the Commission to inquire with our members, as well as with members of the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents and the Council of School Leaders, concerning the future role and responsibilities of principals within the overall context of governance, administration and management.

Lastly, MSBA would like to offer one general recommendation to the Commission that would not seem to correspond to any particular focus area but may best be addressed under governance. This recommendation would be that the Commission encourage the Government of Manitoba to provide for more regular review education as a general means of enhancing opportunities to achieve shared vision, take stock of student learning and teaching, affirm accountabilities, confirm appropriate governance in public education, and review funding.

Given the importance of education to the vitality, success and well-being of our province, that a comprehensive review has not taken place sooner is an important consideration for Government that transcends all focus areas.

Funding: Lastly, MSBA would recommend that the Commission:

  1. recommend that the Government of Manitoba establish a comprehensive tax commission to study taxation in general in our province, inclusive of representation from school boards, municipal government, and other public interest representatives. It is further recommended that such a tax commission be established at the Government's earliest possible opportunity.
  2. recommend that the Government of Manitoba undertake a review of the education funding formula at the earliest possible opportunity, with focus on enhancing student and fiscal equity and guided by the principle of promoting investment of a greater share of provincial revenues to offset local taxes.
  3. consider the importance of school board retention of fiscal autonomy and revenue capacity, in order to address distinctive educational needs at a local level.
  4. consider the important differences between actual and constant levels of investment in the public education system when determining how investments in public education have changed over time, as this can be used to inform and contextualise sustainability and adequacy of overall funding support.
  5. take into account the absorption by the public education system of programming, supports and services normally delivered under health, justice and social services portfolios, when examining sustainability of expenditures for public education in Manitoba.
  6. extend consideration to the overall capacity of school divisions to address short and long-term goals for public education in Manitoba in relation to the current annualized funding model. Further, that the Commission support multi-year funding for core program and capital infrastructure by way of promoting achievement of a longer term vision focused on enhanced student achievement and equity.

For further access to MSBA recommendations on finance of public education, please also consult our Association's Manual of Policies and Beliefs, available at www.mbschoolboards.ca

Commissioners and members of the public who may be interested in reading more concerning the priorities addressed under this brief and the recommendations that MSBA has tabled for consideration of the Commission can also visit www.localvoices.ca for further information.

On behalf of our association and its members, we would like to extend our collegial wishes to the Commission as it completes the important work that lies ahead of it. We remain available to provide any information that the Commission may require in fulfilment of its mandate.

Brief 44

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Peter Narth

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning

Brief: Introduction
With apologies to Swift, I wish to make a modest proposal touching on the two topics of "Long-term vision" and "Student Learning".

The primary focus is on Career and Technology Education (CTE, typically referred to as Technical-Vocational Education in Manitoba) in the K-12 system, and the second will touch on student learning in relation to CTE.

My comments are based on relevant experience:

  • 42 years of public education at various levels
  • Founding Director of the St. Boniface Arts and Technology Centre (now Louis Riel ATC)
  • Senior Executive Director of the provincial Technical Vocational Initiative.

Background:
After WWII Canada and the US were able to benefit from the immigration of many skilled tradespeople, As a result, Canada did not have a need to develop its own trades programs until the early '70s.

Technical-Vocational Education (TVE) became a more significant program option for senior high school students in the '70's, and helped implement more trades-based program options and the creation of vocational schools. The establishment of these programs and schools was greatly supported by an infusion of federal funding. This increased emphasis on TVE was partly in response to increasing industry demands and the perceived need to offer viable program options for so-called non-academic students. The focus of schools, for the most part, remained on preparing students for post-secondary education (PSE), particularly university.

By the mid ‘90s, many TVE programs had become "stale", equipment and facilities needed upgrading or replacement, and funding was tight. The emphasis on university as an educational outcome continued, despite enrollment and graduation rates that showed a small percentage of HS graduates successfully completed PSE. Meanwhile, vocational students continued to be regarded as less capable or ambitious, or both, as evidenced by the fact that those enrolled in vocational programs were not required to take advanced math (consumer math sufficed), nor History.

In the late '90s the Senior Years Apprenticeship Option (SYAO) was introduced to high schools. It allowed students to acquire credit hours towards L1 Apprenticeship. After approximately 10 years of SYAO as an available option, only about 175 students province-wide had enrolled in the program, with even fewer completing the program requirements.

About the same time vocational school administrators formed the Vocational Administrators’ Council. The group included representatives from colleges and met regularly to share exchange ideas and consider program options, improvement and relevance. It was obvious to administrators that approaching government for simply more funding was not appropriate without proposing changes to programming, options and requirements. Schools were not turning out students with competencies required by business and industry. Consequently, two members of the group, the late Al Yoshino, Principal of Kildonan East Collegiate, and I were tasked with developing a TVE position paper for presentation to the provincial government. The emphasis was on program innovation, currency and outcomes. There was some ask for specific financial support.

Subsequent discussions with elected and Department of Education officials led to the creation of the Technical Vocational Initiative (TVI), which functioned from 2004 -2012. The Initiative was funded by three departments, K-12, PSE and Apprenticeship. The core funding component rested with K-12.

The goal of the TVI was to bring about the revitalization of TVE in Manitoba and produce greater program relevance. Specifically, the articulated TVI vision was: to offer Manitobans a comprehensive continuum of technical vocational education (TVE) pathways that is universally accessible, seamless across education levels, and synchronized with labour market needs.

With departmental restructuring and leadership changes, TVI was eliminated in 2012 and vocational education was again submerged in the Curriculum and Assessment branch of the Department of Education. Much of the profile and enthusiasm of and for TVE was lost.

Long -term Vision, Student Learning relative to Career and Technology Education:
Over the last quarter of a century or so, Canada has lost most of its manufacturing industries to overseas countries or Mexico, and it is unlikely that those industries and the attendant, usually well-paying jobs, will return. We are now focussed on "new", supposedly knowledge-based jobs, and those that haven't been invented yet - which is a rather absurd concept. Thus there has been no coherent articulation of what sort of training/schooling would be required to meet these largely undefined needs. Thus arises the question: how do we educate and train our youth to be able to meet current and future social-economic needs while at the same time building productive , self-fulfilling lives for themselves and their families?

In his 2009 book Shopcraft as Soul Class, Matthew B. Crawford comments that "... the disappearance of tools from our common education is the first step toward a wider ignorance of the world of artifacts we inhabit." (p. 1). He then quotes from a 2006 Wall Street Journal article which wonders whether "... skilled _manual_ labour is becoming one of the few sure paths to a good living." (Shopcraft, p.3) CTE can address both aspects.

Consequently, Manitoba’s Commission on Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education is a welcome, necessary and overdue effort. Current observations, however, suggest that while a significant focus of the Commission's Public Meetings (e.g. May 25, 2019) has been on jurisdictional, social justice and identity issues, there appears to have been little interest in CTE.

The importance of issues cited notwithstanding, houses and roads still need to be built, air conditioners and cars need to be repaired here, even if they were built outside the country. In short, we need, and will continue to need, skilled tradespeople. In March 2019, the Manitoba Business Council lamented the fact that at least ten thousand jobs can't be filled. We're not producing young people with the necessary skills to support key economic drivers. We also can no longer rely on immigration to fill the gap. These shortages of skilled people to work in the trades are just a bad or worse in other provinces and the US.

More recently, it was reported that the Manitoba Building Trades are building a $12 million training centre to prepare people for work in construction and the trades. (Winnipeg Free Press, May 29, 2019) This undertaking has the support of the unions. Clearly, industry cannot rely on, nor wait for the school system to prepare young people for generally rewarding, satisfying and lucrative careers.

Currently too many students become disengaged from their school programs, particularly as they move into high school, mainly because too many courses fail to show any relevance to what the school system likes to refer to as "the real world". (By-the-way, school is part of the "real world".) Many subjects, such as physics and math, are taught in isolation and their relevance to daily functioning remains obscure. Now more than ever, careers in the trades require communication and computational skills, along with an understanding of things such as physics, if one wants to explore a career in, say, automotive mechanics or aircraft industry.

A long -term vision for education in Manitoba ought to include relevant, engaging, challenging and rigorous CTE. We have to wean ourselves of the delusion that the majority of high school graduates want our ought to go to university in order to eventually lead successful lives. It's a cruel myth.

The majority of students who successfully complete relevant vocational programs, especially when culminating in a Red Seal Apprentice accreditation, will find meaningful and rewarding employment either upon, or even before graduation.

Furthermore, experience has shown that business and industry are willing to partner with schools to develop program currency and relevance. In many cases they are willing to share or participate in curriculum development. When able, many welcome the opportunity to provide work experience placements for students. Participating students are often more engaged, learn skills otherwise not available to them, and develop more mature attitudes by working in inter-generational settings. Industry and business support sometimes also results in reduced program costs for schools/divisions.

Another aspect of long-term vision should include ongoing program evaluation for relevance and currency. Those courses/programs that fail muster should be discontinued or modified to meet the necessary criteria. If schools offer students courses and programs that let them acquire skills they can use in everyday life and from which they get a sense of fulfillment and tangible accomplishment, they will be engaged. The prospect of earning a good living in the trades is usually a further enticement.

In order to offer these outcomes to young people, we must end our fixation, particularly in high school, with suggesting that pursuit of a university diploma is the only truly worthwhile educational achievement. It is high time that public education in Manitoba becomes more appropriate for the reality of the times. We must educate our educators accordingly. Thus, Faculties of Education need to be involved in creating an awareness and understanding of the importance and relevance of CTE in the educational framework. The majority of teacher and counsellors have, at best, a limited understanding of the trades and the vital role they play in society and the excellent opportunities they afford to young people. Attempts to engage Faculties of Education have not been very successful.

Students, however, and, indeed their parents/guardian also have to take responsibility for their learning. Young people are naturally curious, and we must channel that curiosity and potential enthusiasm. Consequently, programs must be intellectually challenging and rigorous, with clearly defines standards and outcomes expectations. CTE lends itself well to this, because it relies, at least in good part, on demonstrable task outcomes. Additionally, more than ever, the trades require good communication, research and numeracy skills, as well as the ability to problem-solve and innovate ( see some of the home renovation or car shows, such as "Bitchin Rides". Also see Canada's "Essential Skills" list.)

Student learning must focus on skills acquisition and competence and should be measured against appropriate standards. (I wouldn't want a mechanic who doesn't know the significance of a decimal placement in a brake pad measurement working on my car, or have a physician who had 50% in anatomy remove someone's gall bladder.) Most young people prefer to be challenged and strive to achieve meaningful outcomes. It enhances their self-esteem, although, as we know, they often don't admit it publicly.

In conclusion, I emphatically suggest that Manitoba develops, pursues and implements a long-term vision of education that includes a key role for CTE in its framework. The vision has to be coherent, flexible and should involve participation of business and industry. The approach to date has been too hap-hazard, resulting in a "one step forward, two steps back" outcome. Inclusion of Training (i.e. Apprenticeship) in the educational framework would also be an asset.

Some specific recommendation follow below.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: Long-term vision recommendations relate to Career and Technology Education.

  1. Articulate a clear vision for CTE. For example: CTE will offer Manitobans a comprehensive continuum of career and technical (vocational) education pathways that is universally accessible, seamless across education levels, and synchronized with labour market needs.
  2. Increase career/technical-vocational education opportunities and access to northern and remote communities.
  3. Ensure a sustainability focus including green technologies, and alternative and renewable energy sources that will focus on programming in energy-efficient and sustainable technologies with emphasis on hydro, geothermal, biomass, solar and wind.
  4. Work closely with education and industry partners to ensure curriculum is directly related to world-class, cutting-edge resources for students and professional staff.
  5. Regional program development – support technical vocational programming with regional relevance and thereby support regional economic development and sustainability through youth retention.
  6. Include Apprenticeship within the broader educational framework to achieve better coherence.
  7. Work with Faculties of Education to include a teacher training component on CTE and basic economics.
  8. Provide professional development for in-school career counsellors to impart/improve understanding of CTE and student access opportunities.
  9. Create a permanent CTE unit within Dept of Ed ( deploy/redeploy existing staff) and also act as liaison between schools/business/industry/unions.
  10. Review divisional/school equipment purchase practices. Where possible, have CTE unit bulk purchase on behalf of schools/division for better pricing.
  11. Establish criteria for CTE course/program currency/relevance review.

Student Learning: Student learning relative to CTE should include:

  1. Cross-curricular/interdisciplinary programming to promote educational coherence and show the integral relationship between "academic" and "technical" courses (e.g. math and electronics).
  2. A course on basic economics in Gr. 11 or 12.
  3. Test students for core competencies in literacy, numeracy.
  4. Provide students with exposure to career and trade awareness and opportunities in late elementary or early middle years. Gr. 5 would be a good starting level. Include some actual shop time.
  5. Structure program options to allow students to "sample" different skills/trade options in order to gain sufficient understanding of trade to make a reasonably informed decision whether or what program to explore/pursue in more depth.
  6. Promote/help expand and have students attend "Career Expo".
  7. Have Apprenticeship Manitoba play a more active role in schools
  8. Explore potential of offering program beyond/outside regular instructional hours, allowing students extended opportunities for in-shop learning.

Teaching: N/A

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 45

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Jim Hayes, Executive Director

Organization: Manitoba Physiotherapy Association

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Funding

Brief: Introduction:
Physiotherapy is a profession in which therapists have a significant role in health promotion, treatment of injury and disease as well as unique expertise in movement and function for individuals. For children and youth in schools, physiotherapists provide support to ensure students are able to participate to the best of their ability to obtain and/or maintain their highest level of functional independence in their school environment. Through a needs based service delivery model, physiotherapists’ scope of practice is to develop and refine fundamental gross motor skills; facilitate participation; assist with equipment needs; provide assistance with accessibility and safety and collaborate and consult with the school team, family and outside agencies. The school based physical therapist promotes motor development and the student’s participation in everyday routines and activities that are part of his or her program (American Physical Therapy Association, Physical Therapy in School Settings 2016).

In their document, “Appropriate Education Programming in Manitoba- Standards for Student Services (2006) the Department of Education includes physiotherapists in the listing and definition of clinicians. A clinician is defined as an individual in the provision of support services within the school setting who provides services for students with exceptional learning needs and consultative services for school personnel and parents; and is certified under the Teaching Certificates and Qualifications, Manitoba Regulation 515/88, as are speech-language pathologists, school psychologists, school social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists or reading clinicians. Physiotherapists are recognized members of the school clinician team.

Through their Masters’ level education degree, physiotherapists are equipped to address the needs of children and have the knowledge and skills to support schools in implementing individual, classroom, or school-wide programs to support and promote physical literacy and movement. Physiotherapists use their skilled expertise to identify the students’ strengths, promote the understanding of physical challenges and barriers and determine what factors may interfere with the students ability to participate and move throughout and within their school environment and community.

Recommendation: Invest in increased access to Physiotherapy services in early years in school.

Physiotherapists support the development and refinement of foundational gross motor skills by assessing a student’s range of movement, posture, muscle tone strength and transitional movements along with complex motor skills such as the ability to jump, hop, skip, throw and catch. Chiarelli et al (2016) assessed student outcomes of school based physiotherapy and determined that after one year of PT input, students exceeded their goals in the categories of posture/mobility, recreation/fitness, self care and academics. When completing assessments physiotherapists can use a variety of screening tools and instruments including standardized testing to determine current level of function. Once that is determined, physiotherapists work to design, implement and monitor programming which can be done on an individual level, small group or class wide setting.

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act calls on public sector organizations to demonstrate leadership in addressing accessibility barriers in policy and practices. Some school divisions have added physiotherapists to their Facilities and Operations Committees or consult with them on an as needed basis as they have recognize the experience they can add. Physiotherapists can assist with safety plans for emergencies (i.e. use of evacuation sleds for fire drills or evacuation)) and provide recommendations to help allocate funds effectively, (i.e. assist with planning for grooming rooms).

Recommendation: Utilize Physiotherapists to support early intervention and implementation of programming to support gross motor skills in early year’s classrooms.

The most recent Manitoba Early Development Index (EDI) report from 2016-17 (Healthy Child Manitoba) indicates that 25% of Kindergarten students have difficulty performing skills requiring gross and fine motor competence.

Physiotherapists provide information, strategies and recommendations to classroom teachers on how to provide additional opportunities for their students to move safely within their classroom/school setting. The benefits of moving while learning often meet the needs of many students in the classroom. This movement provides a strategy for self regulation which will help with their ability to stay attentive and engaged in the classroom. Providing tier one and interventions supports improved student outcomes and encourages students to become more physically literate by increasing their confidence, motivation and physical competence. The most current literature is clear that improvements in Physical Literacy are linked to improvements in physical, mental and social health (Cairney 2019).

Physiotherapists facilitate and support active inclusion in community based activities and assist families to find programs that fit the student’s needs. Physiotherapists provide information and recommendations to students about after school programming, summer camps and other community events that may provide meaningful opportunities for the student and their families to engage in life long physical activity.

Physiotherapists have a role participating in student’s individual education plan by providing goals outlined and determined by the physical therapist in collaboration with the student, the school team and their family.

Recommendation: Decrease the wait time for individual student Physiotherapy assessment.

Physiotherapists work with school staff and outside agencies to identify those students entering school who require clinical services. As part of the school team they assist in the smooth transition of these students to school and. By increasing access to physiotherapy services, students receive service when needed and school staff can be trained in meeting the student’s needs sooner.

Recommendation: Utilize Physiotherapists to support physical education teachers.

Physiotherapists can provide information to physical education teachers regarding the adaptations and modifications of the game played or the equipment used to allow students to be as successful as possible. Examples include learning to skate or play hockey, swimming or learning to play a specific game/sport. These activities may take place in a school or at home within their communities. Physiotherapists liaison and collaborate with staff at The Rehabilitation Centre for Children (RCC) who work on and provide adaptations for equipment so our students can participate and play with their peers to the best of their ability.

Physiotherapists play a role in modified education programs during school hours, for instance supervising and coordinating students to participate in adapted swim programs or coordinating schools to participate in Special Olympics.

Recommendation: Consider utilizing rehabilitation assistants to support small group or individualized interventions.

The use of rehabilitation assistants (under supervision of physiotherapists) can be used as an alternative to educational assistants. Rehabilitation assistants receive education and training in physical and mental health challenges and understand the underlying factors and safety skills required when working with children. Utilizing rehabilitation assistants can reduce the time physiotherapists are required to provide training because they come with a strong foundation of knowledge in areas such as: lifts and transfers of students, running small group interventions or providing individual intervention in Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy or Speech and Language Pathology.

Recommendation: enable physiotherapist’s time required to establish collaborative, dynamic team relationships with school staff by having adequate time allotted and reasonable workload to be in each school environment on a regular and frequent basis to attend both formal and informal meetings to collaborate, provide support and implement programs.

School physiotherapists are the ideal professionals to collaborate with school staff to develop physical literacy programs that benefit all students. By being a part of the in school team and division employees allows more time and dedication to tier one and two activities, for instance active start programs, class movement breaks, poster groups and sensory pathways.

Physiotherapists can promote healthy school climate through practical strategies such as sensory hallways, classroom management including co-teaching movement breaks, classroom safety and set up for accessibility.

For students who require assistance to physically move between positions or pieces of equipment, physiotherapists provide specific individualized training to school staff working with that child. Equipment may include walkers, wheelchairs, standers and bikes. We liaison with staff from RCC to discuss equipment options or recommend equipment to families and seek funding for equipment.

Physiotherapists ensure schools are following safe work practices when training staff in the safe and proper use of lifting equipment as well as determine safe transfers for students and train staff on lifting or transferring a student. This ensures that the student and school staff members are preventing injury to themselves by using the proper techniques for these lifts and transfers. We follow the WRHA Safe Patient Handling guidelines and work within division guidelines.

Recommendation: Utilize a 3-tiered model to deliver physiotherapy services to schools, as it demonstrates the unique value of physiotherapists’ contribution to education and learning, emphasizing collaboration, early intervention and movement. This will strengthen the preventative and proactive components of the entire education system, (pyramid of inclusive practices have been emailed as an attachment).

Recommendation: Physical therapist to provide education for teachers and administrators.

Physiotherapists provide professional development on a variety of topics including back care and safe lifting techniques, class movement breaks, health/ wellness for staff as well as ways to adapt/ modify physical education class to support inclusive education in all areas of the school environment. Physiotherapists can share their knowledge informally in the class setting or more formally through presentations, in-services and sharing of resources.

Recommendation: Physiotherapists are hired by their school divisions to be embedded into the division and be a part of the in school teams to provide seamless service for all schools.

Physiotherapists are a recognized member of the school clinician team, providing support service in all 3 Tiers-- for recommendations to enhance physical development of all students, for small groups and for the student with specific additional needs.

We strive to help students develop to their potential, allowing the student to participate in their school and community to the best of their abilities. This also helps to enhance students’ social and emotional development.

References
Healthy Child Manitoba. (2016-17). The Early Development Instrument (EDI) Report.

American Physical Therapy Association _APTA_ (2016). Physical Therapy in School Settings. Retrieved from: http://www.apta.org/uploadedFiles/APTAorg/Advocacy/Federal/Legislative_Issues/IDEA_ESEA/PhysicalTherapyintheSchoolSystem.pdf#search="school therapy"

Appropriate Education Programming in Manitoba- Standards for Student Services (2006) The Department of Education.

Cairney, J., Dudley D., Kwan M., Bulten R., Kriellaars D. Physical Literacy, Physical Activity and Health: Toward an Evidence-Informed Conceptual Model. (2019). Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(3): 371-383.

Chiarello, Lisa A., Effgen, Susan K., Jeffries, Lynn., Westcott McCoy, Sarah, Bush, Heather. (2016) Student Outcomes of School-Based Physical Therapy as Measured by Goal Attainment Scaling, Pediatric Physical Therapy, 277-284.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: Invest in increased access to Physiotherapy services in early years in school to promote the development of gross motor skills and physical literacy, which are foundational for children to move safely and with ease in all environments.

Utilize Physiotherapists to support early intervention and implementation of programming to support gross motor skills in early year’s classrooms through consultation, co-teaching, small group work

Utilize a 3-tiered model to deliver physiotherapy services to schools, as it demonstrates the unique value of physiotherapists’ contribution to education and learning, emphasizing collaboration, early intervention and movement. This will strengthen the preventative and proactive components of the entire education system.

Consider utilizing rehabilitation assistants to support small group or individualized interventions. They have been trained with additional clinical knowledge and, decreasing the amount of time required for training by the physiotherapist.

Teaching: Utilize Physiotherapists to support physical education teachers in modifications and adaptations for active participation.

Physiotherapist to provide education for teachers and administrators about specific topics where the physiotherapist can enhance learning for school staff to provide optimal education in the school context.

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding: Physiotherapists are hired by their school divisions to be embedded into the division and be a part of the in school teams to provide seamless service for all schools.

Enable physiotherapist’s time required to establish collaborative, dynamic team relationships with school staff by having adequate time allotted and reasonable workload to be in each school environment on a regular and frequent basis to attend both formal and informal meetings to collaborate, provide support and implement programs.

Decrease the wait time for individual student Physiotherapy assessment to ensure students requiring additional supports are assessed earlier upon school-entry.

Additional submission: PT Pyramid of Interventions [PDF, 212 KB]

Brief 46

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Janice Watson, Valdine Bjornson, Karla Gutierrez, Kelly Fawcett-Neufeld

Organization: Parent - Educator Partnership for Literacy Achievement

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: The foundation of language and literacy skills is laid in early childhood development and continues on when students enter kindergarten. Parents and educators form a natural partnership very early on in a child’s life that is critical to lifelong development of our children. The expectation is when children begin kindergarten, they will be enriched and inspired as they begin their education journey. What actually happens is that some students will be grade levels ahead of their classmates, while others will not be as prepared for school due to lack of experience at home, and 28% of Canadian 6-year-olds will have cognitive or behavioral problems, which makes them unprepared for the challenges of Grade 1 and potentially learning how to read and write.

There is much confusion in the Manitoba Education system with respects to dyslexia. Some school divisions are not permitted to recognize a dyslexia diagnosis. Most educators don’t know what dyslexia is, or how to recognize it. Even if educators have identified dyslexic students in their classrooms most often don’t have the tools or the administrative support to provide appropriate instruction and intervention for these students. Current intervention strategies for struggling readers are not adequately supporting the dyslexia component. Parents are frustrated and are being forced to seek outside support at great expense. Many families cannot afford private tutoring and these most vulnerable families are faced with letting their children fail, many of who never finish school.

According to Measuring Up: Canadian results of the OECD PISA Study (2012), Manitoba has declined by 34 points in reading performance, from 2000-2012, which is the greatest decline of all Canadian provinces. Manitoba schools are one of the lowest ranking in Canada (PISA, 2012). According to Manitoba Education, using the data from the Provincial Grade 3 Assessment (excluding Manitoba First Nations schools), approximately 40% of students “need(s) some help or needs ongoing help” to meet expectations for “reflecting on and setting reading goals; using strategies during reading to make sense of texts and demonstrating comprehension.” Further, for the provincial English Language Arts Grade 12 Manitoba Provincial Test, the average score for students since 2013 to present has been between 65%-67.7% (excluding Manitoba First Nations schools).

These results are staggering especially when evidence shows that with effective instruction from the beginning, most reading problems can be prevented and “all children can learn to read” (Mathes and Torgeson, 1998). What becomes apparent in studies on effective reading interventions is the importance of identifying risk factors early (Fletcher and Foorman, 1994).

There are huge economic savings to society when the teaching of reading is guided by scientific evidence. According to a Statistics Canada study by Coulombe, Tremblay, and Marchand (2004), a 1% increase in literacy (relative to other countries) produces a 2.5% increase in the level of labor productivity and a 1.5% rise in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person. In Canada, this equates to an increase of $32 billion in national income for every 1% increase in literacy scores. There can be severe consequences for individuals with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, in Canada. According to Statistics Canada (2013), Canadians with a learning disability are “six times more likely” to be unemployed than the general population. Further, in Canada, learning disabilities are correlated with higher levels of stress, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, visits to mental health professionals and poor physical health including a greater chance of being incarcerated (2013). A full quarter of the inmates in Canadian prisons have a learning disability (2013). Manitoba youth with learning disabilities have a higher incidence of drug use, alcoholism and school dropout rates (2013). Further, there is a lower educational attainment level for those with a learning disability in Canada, which conversely impacts their employment options (Statistic Canada, 2013). If students with a learning disability require assistive technology, almost half stated that they were not able to receive those types of supports, primarily because of the associated costs (Statistics Canada, 2013).

Teaching children to read and write using effective instruction is of tremendous importance to society. Teachers have a significant role to play. This leads to a number of challenges for our teachers as they are not (1) equipped /knowledgeable to support the differences in cognitive ability and (2) do not have the proper support systems in place within the classroom to ensure that students are adequately supported. Parents are using tutors outside of school hours to provide additional support in a desperate attempt to bring their children to what would be considered grade level reading and writing levels. This is putting a huge financial burden on families and the social impacts to children are profound.

This is our chance to make a difference and to pull together as one. Parents, educators, academia and the government need to work together to help our children. A movement is starting across Canada and we need to inform the Manitoba government that something needs to change. This is our chance and we need to convey that dyslexia needs to be recognized and talked about as it is impacting our children.

Universities are not equipping our new teachers to understand dyslexia and how to teach our children. It may be a learning disability but the “research literature is robust and clear: all children are advantaged by a structured literacy approach that includes elicit instruction of the alphabetic code using systematic synthetic phonics. Yet schools across Canada continue to follow ‘balanced literacy’ frameworks that promote practices with no roots in science of reading, including memorization of sight words beginning in kindergarten and patterned leveled readers that promote guessing and memorization. Teachers deserve to be taught the science of reading and children deserve teachers who know the science of reading. Anything less is unacceptable.” The Voice of the People: May 13, 2019/The Chronicle Herald.

Students are suffering, and this is seen not only through academics, but the social impacts are evident through low self-esteem, social disorders such as anxiety and depression. Parents feel the financial burden as they are forced to pay for diagnosis, private tutors or home school their children, all in the hopes that this will help their children catch up. This is an incredible amount of pressure as our current education system has not recognized dyslexia as a learning disability that needs specialized support and attention and teachers need to be equipped to support our children.

A movement has started, and we have reached out to families, teachers, academics, literacy groups, school divisions to support improving literacy achievement for all Manitobans. To date we have over 558 supporters that have signed their name to acknowledge that change needs to occur. www.Change.org

The following recommendations have been submitted for consideration highlighting suggested changes within Manitoba’s education system. These recommendations are supported through research that is occurring not only in Canada, but worldwide.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: Acknowledge that not all students are the same. Recognize that dyslexia exists, implement a framework that introduces screening and assessments for children in kindergarten or no later than the first grade. If a child has dyslexia, there must be remediation via the professional services team. MB Ed needs to further refines its mission statement to guide the development of a policy framework impacting early detection, educator training, mandated faculty education courses and Level III Funding vs Basic School Support.

In Australia, it is recommended to “screen all students in kindergarten allows teachers to identify skills to explicitly teach and devise practice that enables the transition to decoding.” http://www.fivefromfive.org.au/principal/

Western countries recognize dyslexia and have taken positive steps to ensure dyslexic children get a fair and just education. Thirty nine American states have legislated dyslexia-related educational laws. Research from the DSM-5 suggests dyslexia should be 3- 15% translating to 2 or 3 children that have dyslexia from kindergarten to grade 12. Dyslexia is real, science based research exists on how dyslexia is manifested in the brain, how it shows up manifests in the classroom and what works for students with dyslexia. Despite this research students with dyslexia continue to be underserved and misunderstood in MB schools. Canada stumbles along and our schools prefer to use the "wait-and-see" approach. In Ontario more than 40,000 children are waiting for an assessment out of 250,000 who struggle with dyslexia. Children with learning disabilities, 80-85% of them are believed to be dyslexic.

Quebec CAQ party leader, François Legault, indicated that the government is to reimburse the medical expenses incurred by parents who have to turn to the private sector for assessments. https://globalnews.ca/news/4912113/quebec-planning-to-implement-early-screenings-of-learning-disabilities-in-children/

We must incorporate dyslexia training into Universities to initiate early education and intervention so that new teachers are equipped. We must also expand the professional resource team by incorporating dyslexia specialists into the school systems. Victor Mager School has several educators who noted learning challenges for their students when it came to phonological awareness and sound-letter correspondence which are vital skills that impact a student’s ability to read and write effectively. They organized themselves into an informal learning cohort and have begun to explore and learn more about potential reading and writing interventions. Early assessments have shown overall improvement in reading and writing, suggesting that the work is paying off and students are benefiting. https://www.lrsd.net/schools/SiteGovernImages/schools/News/Reading_and_Writing_Interventiondad8a3fe_f38e_4904_bc85_534f81cb93be_cmp/Reading and Writing Interventions at Victor Mager School.pdf

The School Psychologist Association of SE MB states, “Reading Recovery and Leveled Literacy Intervention uses the 3 cueing systems model (syntactic, semantic visual) which is insufficient to help struggling readers. Efforts must begin early on at Tier 1. The National Reading Panel (2000) found that training kindergartners and first graders in phonemic awareness skills, along with explicit and systematic phonics instruction substantially reduced the percentage of students with reading difficulties.” http://psych.hsd.ca/Better Instruction for Struggling Readers.pdf

The Virginia Depart of Education offer PD days to receive professional development in the Orton-Gillingham instructional approach. It is designed to address the needs of struggling readers who have difficulty with reading, spelling and writing. http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2018/048-18.shtml

Student Learning: Revised educational standards are required to the existing curriculum where millions of dollars are being spent on a single approach that is not effective. One needs to understand the connection of dyslexia and the use of multi sensory methods makes links between the visual, auditory and kinesthetic-tactile; this provides students with three pathways for learning sound, letters and letter formation (Henry, 2000). These techniques, used in special interventions for students with dyslexia, enhance memory and learning; and are not only beneficial for students with dyslexia, but also for all children learning the foundation skills for reading. https://www.idaontario.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Hawkin-2008-Foundations-for-literacy-an-evidence-based-toolkit-for-the-effective-reading-and-writing-teacher.pdf

Roger Partridge, chairman of The New Zealand Initiative: “While Reading Recovery has been widely adopted, we are failing dismally to teach our own children to read. The International Reading Literacy Study, indicates that New Zealand's Year five students ranked 33rd among the 50 participating countries. They were last out of English-speaking countries. A TEC report in 2014 reported grim statistics, a sample of Year 11 students with NCEA Level 1, only 49% achieved the international reading benchmark. More than half of the students were functionally illiterate. These illiteracy rates are shocking! Especially when Reading Recovery has been adopted in schools throughout the country since the 1980's? A report from the Education Review Office published in April indicates: for many struggling readers, Reading Recovery does not work. The problem appears to lie with Reading Recovery's word-level instructional approach. Rather than decoding words using phonics, Reading Recovery expects children to grasp actual text. https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/education/104124717/an-answer-to-new-zealands-illiteracy-enigma

  • In Manitoba, we must investigate a broad understanding of systematic synthetic phonics. One example is the Orton Gillingham (OG) approach which is most properly understood and practiced as an approach, for individuals who have difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing. With well-trained and experienced instructor, it's a powerful tool of exceptional breadth, depth, and flexibility. From a cognitive perspective, students understand the reasons for what they are learning and for the learning strategies they are employing. Confidence is gained as they gain in abilities to apply newly gained knowledge about and knowledge how to develop their skills with reading, spelling, and writing. A lesson is both diagnostic and prescriptive. It is diagnostic in the sense that the instructor continuously monitors the verbal, nonverbal, and written responses of the student to identify and analyze both the student’s problems and progress. It's multi sensory as it uses all the learning pathways: seeing, hearing, feeling, and awareness of motion, brought together by the thinking brain. It uses systematic phonics, stressing the alphabetic principle in the initial stages of reading development. It takes advantage of the sound/symbol relationships inherent in the alphabetic system of writing. It draws upon applied linguistics not only in the initial decoding and encoding stages of reading and writing but in more advanced stages dealing with syllabic, morphemic, syntactic, semantic, and grammatical structures of language and our writing system. In the US, many states have adopted this form of teaching and have seen great improvements in the literacy of their students.

Teaching: Teachers want to know - In general, educators are also unclear on appropriate identification, assessment and school support methods for students with dyslexia (Aladwani and Al Shaya, 2012; Bell et al., 2011; Bengoa et al., 2017; Cook, 2017; Echegaray-Bengoa et al., 2017Elias, 2014; Foreman-Sinclair, 2012; Nascimento et al., 2018; Sichere, 2014; Sónia, 2012; Soriano-Ferrer et al., 2016; Srivastava et al., 2017; Worthy et al., 2016).

  • Educator Training
Incorporate dyslexia training into Universities to initiate early education and intervention so that are new teachers are equipped with the necessary skills. Expanding the professional resource team by incorporating Dyslexia Specialists into the school systems. One cannot underestimate the profound impacts that this will have in providing the support that is so desperately needed. We have seen the profound effects when a specific school division in Manitoba decides to take matter into their own hands:
Victor Mager School - As previously discussed, several educators had noted learning challenges for their students when it came to phonological awareness and sound-letter correspondence which are vital skills that impact a student’s ability to read and write effectively. They organized themselves into an informal learning cohort and have begun to explore and learn more about potential reading and writing interventions that may benefit our learners.
Early assessments have shown overall improvement in reading and writing, suggesting that the work is paying off and students are benefiting from this learning.
https://www.lrsd.net/schools/SiteGovernImages/schools/News/Reading_and_Writing_Interventiondad8a3fe_f38e_4904_bc85_534f81cb93be_cmp/Reading and Writing Interventions at Victor Mager School.pdf

Universal Screening from the International Dyslexia Association – “It is essential to identify the instructional needs of struggling students as soon as possible and catch them before they fall”. https://dyslexiaida.org/universal-screening-k-2-reading/

In the United States, the Virginia Department of Education Offices of Special Education Instructional Services and Humanities and Early Childhood is offering four days of training to receive professional development in the Orton-Gillingham instructional approach. This instructional approach is a direct, systematic approach to teaching language structure for reading remediation. It is designed to address the needs of struggling readers who have difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing including those with a specific learning disability such as dyslexia. http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2018/048-18.shtml

  • Formalize Dyslexia Programs:

Examples of this occurring are education programs in the US. The dyslexia education pilot programs detailed herein show promise with results that demonstrate improved reading competence and fewer special education referrals and outside placements. This report is not all inclusive -- there are successful public and private dyslexia charter and magnet schools in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Mississippi to name a few. There are also a number of well-designed dyslexia pilots just that have not yet reported results. https://www.idaontario.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Maryland-Report-of-the-Task-Force-to-Study-the-Implementation-of-a-Dyslexia-Education-Program-Dec-2016.pdf

Accountability for Student Learning:

  • Establish a governance system that mandates accountability and improved practice. Governance should be about building teacher capacity; introducing dyslexia specialists that will be part of the support team to ensure that there is consistent practices throughout the life cycle of intervention. Currently assessments are subjective which doesn’t give guidance for instruction.
  • Direct instruction with theory, practice and knowledge regarding SLD and especially dyslexia as it is 80% of the SLD population. Introduce teachers to how we might offer Early screening for reading-writing difficulties such as the work that is being piloted with Manitoba Education (Manitoba Education and Training partnered to provide Classroom Educator Orton-Gillingham training twice this school year 2018-19) as well as numerous Departments of education across the US.
  • Commit specialized resources and staff training (higher ed and K-12) for the specific needs of students with dyslexia including instructional approaches and policies within the existing curriculum or as a separate course offering for education and school psychology faculties.
  • Offer a post baccalaureate option for educators to receive a specialization certificate as a Dyslexia Specialist or SLD specialist who is solely focused upon supporting the needs of students with a Specific Learning Disabilities – such as reading, writing and math especially using practice-based approaches (which are specifically designed for students with SLD).
  • There is a great deal of interest with practice-based training, learning and coursework from pre and in-service educators.
  • Develop a Reading Lab in which educators, SLP’s, school psychologists and Dyslexia specialists work together to improve instruction and responses to those who struggle with reading, including those with dyslexia. An example of this can be found at the University of Alberta – Memory Learning and Learning Disabilities (Neuroscience and Mental Health). In Manitoba, we have at least 2 researchers who are studying reading disabilities, one at U of Manitoba (Dr. Kruk) and the other at U of Winnipeg (Dr. Desroches) both in the Psychology Department. The U of M Faculty of Education might begin conversations between the Faculty of Education and Psychology Department in the hopes of coordinating our knowledge regarding reading instruction as well as those who might struggle with reading-writing including developing our own Reading Lab.
  • The Minister of Education and Training Platform Commitments (May 3/16); “Establish province wide reading labs with trained educators and effective resources Assign collaborative reading assessment teams to assist students whose reading proficiency is low or not improving to determine actionable improvement strategies Establish a clear and reputable bench marking system for student literacy with key milestone indicators to track progress”.
  • University Programs: Examine the potential to collaborate with other universities and associations. For example:
    • International Dyslexia Association Accredited programs https://dyslexiaida.org/university- programs-accredited-by-ida/
    • University of Florida promotes a dyslexia specialist program; Anitoch University - Foundations and Psychology of Reading
    • Introduction to Dyslexia; Advanced Phonics; Diagnosis and Assessment of Students and Dyslexia - Structured Language Teaching I and II
    • Multisensory Reading – Reading Comprehension; Written Expression; Computer
    • Gillingham for Resource Center Teaching; Electives in Reading

Governance:

  • Introduction of laws to support reading instruction based on the science behind how the brain learns to read. It involves explicit, systematic instruction in phonics, teaching students the patterns of how sounds and letters go together. Pillars are established to oversee progress, mandate, bring in multi-disciplinary professionals (School Psychology, Speech-Language Pathologists, Reading Scientists, Linguists, Cognitive Scientists) to encourage dialogue; reduce the silos; provide accountability for the framework. We must focus upon closing the gap, not simply observe ‘progress’ for our students.
  • Governance Laws and Legislation - The Minister of Education to introduce a Training Platform that highlights an established province wide reading lab with trained educators and effective resources including (School Psychology, Speech-Language Pathologists, Reading Scientists, Linguists, Cognitive Scientists. Develop collaborative reading assessment teams to assist students whose reading proficiency is low or not improving to determine actionable improvement strategies. Establish a clear and reputable bench marking system for student literacy with key milestone indicators to track progress.
  • Funding / support for parents for early diagnosis – Introduce early assessment tools for proper identification of those at reading risk in Kindergarten and Grade one. Provide the proper support systems within the school system so that parents are not having to use tutors outside of school hours to provide additional support in a desperate attempt to bring their children to what would be considered grade level reading and writing levels. This financial burden should not be on families and money to support them should be available. Ultimately, these types of services should be provided in a fair and appropriate public education (FAPE) and better yet, less demands as students begin to develop reading skills more efficiently and effectively due to instructional approaches more grounded in reading sciences.
  • Collaboration between Universities, Teachers and Parents - Commit specialized resources and staff training (higher ed and K-12) for the specific needs of students with dyslexia including instructional approaches and policies within the existing curriculum or as a separate course offering at higher education campuses.
  • Proper Training Platforms – Incorporate dyslexia training into Universities to initiate early education and intervention so that new teachers are equipped. Expand the professional resource team by incorporating dyslexia specialists into the school systems.

Funding:

  • Move funding from current based assessment that are not providing accurate information for literacy based intervention and start using skill based assessment tools to provide specific information to guide effective literacy instruction for all students. Reading Recovery does not work for children with dyslexia.
  • Assessment protocols should assess word attack skills and language comprehension skills which lead to effective reading comprehension skills (Simple View of Reading). This system includes explicit instruction in phonics, teaching students how letters and sounds go together to help the brain process the written word as well as vocabulary and comprehension development. This is the most effective way to teach children to read. This approach works well for all students, not just those with dyslexia. Studies have shown that reading is not a natural process, reading has to be taught and it needs to be taught systematically.

Teachers are highly motivated for more training and care deeply for their students. We need to provide them support. A preeminent researcher in dyslexia, Dr. Sally Shaywitz, once said, “We do not have a knowledge gap, we have an action gap.” For those who can't read well by the end of third grade, there are lifelong consequences, including higher school dropout and poverty rates.

Parents and educators have debated and fought for laws to transform reading instruction, often battling an education establishment resistant to change. The current system is not working, the system needs to be revamped – from dyslexia screening to reading instruction to teacher training which will cost money. Where does this come from? Millions of dollars are spent on reading recovery and it doesn’t work. In Arkansas, when schools started implementing dyslexia programs, and suddenly their reading literacy results were improving, yet not all these kids were dyslexic. Scientific evidence that shows how students learn to read is being ignored, largely because of the ideological fight over how to be teach reading. Parents are leading the way and now in over 40 U.S. states have laws, pilot programs, or bills ready to be signed around reading and dyslexia. Requirements and mandates may vary widely however in Arkansas, by the school year 2021, all elementary and special ed teachers must show that they know how to teach reading based on the science.
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/what-parents-of-dyslexic-children-are-teaching-schools-about-literacy?fbclid=IwAR0xbOVzy657UNL0a6

Brief 47

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Kristine Janz

Organization: Personal

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Recently the Department of Education cut funding for the Tell Them From Me Program. As the Province of Manitoba is in the middle of the K-12 review I find this cut surprising.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: TTFM is one of the few programs that exist in Manitoba that hears the voices of our students. The program provides a baseline of information to measure how students feel about their student experience. Going into the future, as in the past, the information gathered assists our front line workers with their decision making. Those decisions must include the input of students and their needs. Of particular interest to me is the information that TTFM gathered on the Social Emotional Well Being of students.

Student Learning: It is well documented that the Social Emotional health of a student contributes to student success. It is also well documented that Social Emotional and Well-Being is subjective and hard to measure. So, how do we measure it? TTFM is one of those tools that listens to students.

Teaching: Every tool that teacher's and support staff can use to understand what students are feeling and experiencing is worthy of government support.

Accountability for Student Learning: Analysis of data is at the forefront of moving forward. We just can't assume that decisions are the best decisions without a proper gathering of information and a shared discussion from front line workers, administrations and the Department of Education.

Governance: The Department of Education needs to be in the position to provide leadership. It is relatively easy to measure numeracy and literacy and rely on very subjective tests to make decisions. But without meeting the needs of a student's socially emotional issues, making decisions on tests alone is not addressing student's underlying issues.

Funding: Financially supporting a program that can identify issues that student's are facing in their lives right now will pay dividends now and into the future.

Brief 48

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Keystone Agricultural Producers

Organization: Keystone Agricultural Producers<

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) is Manitoba’s general farm policy organization, representing and promoting the interests of thousands of agricultural producers in Manitoba. Our membership consists of over 6,000 members and 25 commodity groups who set our organization’s policy through a grassroots governance structure.

On behalf of KAP, please accept the following comments regarding the Manitoba Government K-12 Education Review. The comments below were developed in consultation with KAP’s taxation committee and center on the funding focus area of the review, as well as governance.

While KAP does not have specific policy on many of the details included in the current review, as representatives of Manitoba’s farmers, we are advocates for rural schools and their students. The review speaks about providing equitable learning opportunities for all students and we urge the commission to ensure that rural students have access to the same learning opportunities and resources as those in urban areas (transportation, extracurricular activities, technology resources, etc.). Additionally, our taxation committee would like to advocate for the preservation of local autonomy and the ability of locally elected trustees to respond to the specific requirements that their communities want for their schools. School trustees play an important role in assessing the needs of local school divisions and determining local priorities, and we would like to see this role preserved in any future education system.

While we are aware that the review will not be looking at technical details of the education funding model, one cannot discuss changes to a system without considering the funding for that system. In terms of the current education funding model, our main concern is the increasingly disproportionate amount of the province’s education bill that is paid for by Manitoba’s farmers. KAP policy supports the complete removal of education taxes from all property, including agricultural land and production buildings. In the interim, KAP believes that the current farmland school tax rebate should not be capped and should be applied at the point of payment, the property tax bill.

In recent years, farmland has been increasing in value at a rate that far outpaces other property classes. The 2016 reassessment proved to be particularly impactful on farmers across the province. KAP research has indicated that following the 2016 reassessment, the average increase in value for farmland across the province was 45%. In some rural municipalities, the value of the farmland nearly doubled from 2015 to 2016. While the taxable portion of farmland value is lower than most other property classes (currently 26%), the rapid, significant and disproportionate increases in farmland value that have occurred demonstrate the need to re-evaluate whether the use of property taxes is an equitable method of funding education. Successful farming today requires substantial amounts of land. Excessive taxation, due to the market value method of assessment applied to farmland in Manitoba, creates heavy burdens on farmers. It also results in farmers carrying a greater share of the education tax burden, relative to other residents, in many rural municipalities. KAP therefore recommends that the commission explore moving away from funding education through property taxes and evaluate alternative funding methods in Manitoba, focusing on a more equitable and sustainable funding model.

On behalf of KAP, thank you for your consideration of this submission. We appreciate the opportunity to be involved in this comprehensive review of the Manitoba education system.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: We recommend that rural students have access to the same learning opportunities and resources as those in urban areas (transportation, extracurricular activities, technology resources, etc.).

Teaching: N/A

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: We recommend the preservation of local autonomy and the ability of locally elected trustees to respond to the specific requirements that their communities want for their schools.

Funding: We recommend that the commission explore moving away from funding education through property taxes and evaluate alternative funding methods in Manitoba, focusing on a more equitable and sustainable funding model.

Brief 49

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Dr. Martha J Koch

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning
  • Teaching

Brief: Introduction
As a mathematics teacher educator/researcher at University of Manitoba, I appreciate the opportunity to share my perspective with the Commission. In my submission, I identify specific cost effective, sustainable actions to improve student outcomes and begin to close the deeply troubling achievement gaps in K – 12 mathematics learning in Manitoba. I begin from the premise that equitable access to high quality mathematics education is a shared goal for Manitoba educators, parents and members of the public. At the same time, many indicators, not just national and international test scores, underscore the urgent need for coordinated efforts to improve mathematics teaching and learning to achieve that goal.

My recommendations, principally related to “Student Learning” and “Teaching”, are based on expertise I have gained from reviewing, analysing, and conducting mathematics education research. While presenting my research at national and international conferences, I have also had opportunities to critically reflect on mathematics education initiatives in other jurisdictions. The work I have done in various provinces to support pre-service teachers and collaborate with practicing teachers, coaches and school leaders seeking to improve their mathematics teaching practices also influences my recommendations and helps ensure they remain practical.

In order to provide concise, yet detailed recommendations, I have used action-oriented headings to introduce nine key elements. Taken together, I believe these elements form the basis of a coherent course of action for improving mathematics outcomes in Manitoba. Implementing these recommendations can be best achieved through collaboration across levels of the education system (Fullan, 2007; Lemke and Sabelli, 2008). I hope the Committee finds this brief helpful and will provide complete bibliographic citations and additional references and resources to support each recommendation upon request.

Enacting the Manitoba Curriculum
Analysis of the Manitoba K-12 mathematics curriculum documents reveals specific learning outcomes and mathematics learning processes closely aligned with curricula in many other Canadian or international jurisdictions. And yet, many of these jurisdictions demonstrate better student outcomes in mathematics than we see in Manitoba. These observations suggest allocating resources to curriculum revision is neither the most effective nor expeditious way to improve mathematics learning in Manitoba. Instead, we must focus on supporting pre-service and practicing teachers as well as school leaders as they enact our current curriculum using a coherent set of highly effective, research-based mathematics teaching practices.

Using Research-based Mathematics Teaching Practices
Myths and misconceptions about mathematics teaching abound. A 2018 special issue of the open access journal, Education Sciences, explores some of the most pervasive, damaging myths. In Manitoba and elsewhere, these myths fuel a polarizing debate about how mathematics should be taught, creating uncertainty that can undermine efforts to improve practices. Manitoba educators must move beyond this debate, cast aside myths, and use teaching practices grounded in contemporary theory and research.

Eight essential mathematics teaching practices have been identified in "Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All" (NCTM, 2014). These practices are based on more than three decades of mathematics education research and on recent studies in neuroscience. The eight practices align with current learning theories including various expressions of 21st century learning. Written with contributions from Canadian researchers and educators, the document (downloadable for less than $7 CAD) provides a clear path for ensuring all students in Manitoba graduate with greater confidence and competence in mathematics. Common obstacles to enacting each teaching practice are identified and actions that can be taken by teachers, principals and school divisions to overcome these obstacles are presented to ensure that improved mathematics outcomes for learners from all socioeconomic, gender, linguistic, racial and cultural identities occur. This document has become an authoritative, critically acclaimed framework for improving mathematics education.

Supporting educators in enacting the eight teaching practices will move Manitoba beyond the myths and polarizing debates that undermine public confidence in mathematics education. Rather than purchasing costly programs often based on inadequate theoretical or empirical support, educators and students across Manitoba would see greater returns from collaborative efforts to enact the existing curriculum using these eight teaching practices. Doing so will also provide a consistent message to parents and other members of the public about what effective mathematics teaching and learning looks like.

Incorporating Indigenous Perspectives into Mathematics Teaching and Learning
Incorporating Indigenous perspectives on mathematics and including approaches to teaching and learning mathematics consistent with Indigenous views is essential in achieving equitable outcomes for Manitoba students. People often think mathematics exists independent of culture, yet ethnomathematics has long recognized that cultural diversity is inherent in mathematics and in mathematical practices (François, 2016). The efforts of Elders and other members of Inuit, Métis and First Nations communities across Canada, at times working alongside educators and scholars, have resulted in resources that convey Indigenous perspectives of mathematics. Two Manitoba examples are “The Birch Bark Canoe: Navigating a New World” and “The Three Sisters”. Many other projects help educators understand land and place-based approaches, storywork and other aspects of culturally responsive learning in K-12 mathematics programs (e.g. Lunney Borden and Wiseman, 2016; Nicol, Archibald and Baker, 2013; Stavrou and Miller, 2018; Sterenberg, 2013 etc.).

In collaboration with Inuit, Métis and First Nations communities, educators in Manitoba must have opportunities to increase their awareness and understanding of Indigenous perspectives of mathematics learning and be supported to take steps to incorporate these ideas in their classrooms. I have made this a part of every B.Ed. or M.Ed. mathematics education course I teach and I believe a range of initiatives can be undertaken at the school, division and provincial levels to ensure support for incorporating Indigenous perspectives in mathematics continues to grow.

Disrupting Beliefs about Who is Mathematically Capable and Reducing Mathematics Anxiety
The myth that mathematics is only for those who possess certain intellectual qualities is pervasive. This myth demonstrably undermines the confidence and achievement of many learners such as students from lower socioeconomic groups, female students, and those from some racial groups (Berry, 2018; Chestnut et al., 2018). Support for children to develop positive mathematical identities must begin in early years education (Smith and Chao, 2018). Beliefs about who can and cannot learn and do mathematics have been shown to contribute to mathematics anxiety, a widespread and extensively researched phenomenon. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of 131 studies shows that mathematics achievement is significantly reduced among school aged children with mathematics anxiety (Namkung, Peng and Lin, 2019).

Given that mathematics anxiety is not uncommon and that we have a good sense of factors that create and intensify this condition, increasing student achievement in Manitoba must include teaching in ways that reduce mathematics anxiety. The eight teaching practices include strategies to build students’ confidence and competence such as facilitating mathematical discourse, building procedural fluency from conceptual understanding, and recognizing that “productive struggle” is part of mathematics learning. Moving away from practices such as timed tests which have a negative impact on working memory and impair mathematical thinking is critical, particularly in elementary classrooms (Beilock, 2011; Boaler, 2014). We must use other more effective ways of teaching and assessing learning that disrupt beliefs about who is mathematically capable and reduce the negative impact of mathematics anxiety on achievement.

Offering High-quality, Sustained Professional Learning in K-12 Mathematics
Simply stated, we know that practicing teachers and most individuals entering B.Ed. programs in Manitoba did not learn mathematics in the ways we now know are the most effective. This fact, along with our knowledge of the tremendous improvements in achievement that occur when students experience high quality teaching year after year (Hargreaves and Fullan, 2012), makes it clear that sustained professional learning opportunities must be at the heart of improving mathematics achievement in Manitoba.

We know a great deal about ways to design and facilitate excellent professional learning for mathematics teachers (Loucks-Horsley and Matsumoto, 1999; Loucks-Horsely et al., 2010). Numerous studies, including several Canadian projects, confirm the significant impact collaborative inquiry (CI) can have in helping mathematics teachers develop their classroom practices. These studies highlight the characteristics of CI that led to substantial change including:

  • an explicit focus on the mathematics curriculum,
  • using models of professional learning such as lesson study, co-planning/co-teaching, and analysis of student work
  • teacher-directed learning and distributed leadership
  • access to more knowledgeable others to support and provoke teacher learning, and
  • recognizing change takes time and requires sustained initiatives.

Attending to these characteristics while facilitating CI initiatives centered on the eight teaching practices has and will enhance mathematics learning in Manitoba. In the "Spring 2019 MASS Journal", McKiel describes an example of a successful initiative with these features that took place in St. James-Assiniboia School Division. His article demonstrates how we have begun to draw on existing capacity among mathematics leaders in Manitoba and can continue to build that capacity through sustained collaborative professional learning initiatives.

Building Mathematics Knowledge for Teaching
Teachers need to understand and use mathematics in ways that are distinct from what takes place in fields such as engineering, chemistry or physics. The unique mathematics work teachers engage in requires a form of knowledge sometimes called “mathematics knowledge for teaching (MKT)” (Ball and Bass, 2002). MKT includes many elements such as being able to:

  • offer mathematically accurate explanations that are meaningful to students
  • flexibly use and connect physical, graphical and symbolic representations,
  • pose problems that support student learning, and
  • make mathematical and pedagogical judgements about students’ questions, solutions and ideas.

Teachers continue to deepen these skills throughout their careers. The concept of MKT helps explain the findings of studies showing better mathematics outcomes for students are less related to the number of undergraduate mathematics credits a teacher has and more related to sustained opportunities for teachers to build their MKT. Building MKT begins in B.Ed. programs but must continue for all practicing teachers. Rather than buying commercial packages that claim to increase educators’ knowledge of mathematics content, improved student outcomes in Manitoba will occur as teachers and school leaders have more opportunities to work collaboratively to build their MKT within the context of the eight teaching practices.

Leveraging the Power of Classroom Assessment for Improving Learning
Classroom assessment is one of the most powerful tools for ensuring student learning in mathematics. Specifically, greater emphasis on observation, questioning, and providing feedback to students enhances mathematics learning (Suurtamm and Arden, 2015; Wiliam, 2015). These assessment practices are embedded in the eight teaching practices. Canadian research shows how mathematics educators engaged in coherent, collaborative activities can improve their assessment practices and that dilemmas they encounter as they transform their assessment practices can be addressed through sustained CI initiatives supported at various levels of the education system (Suurtamm, Lazarus, Koch et al., 2017; Suurtamm and Koch, 2014; Suurtamm, Koch and Arden, 2010). Thus, focusing on classroom assessment practices as part of teacher-directed CI is another key recommendation for improving mathematics outcomes in Manitoba.

Measuring Improvements in Mathematics Learning in Varied Ways
Evidence of improved mathematics learning cannot be limited to large scale assessments or the number of high school graduates in Manitoba. Other recommended strategies include monitoring:

  • student and teacher confidence and attitudes toward mathematics using existing tools
  • numbers of students taking each level of mathematics courses (essentials, applied, pre-calculus)
  • numbers of secondary mathematics credits granted across the province
  • numbers of students enrolling in post-secondary mathematics courses
  • numbers of students choosing mathematics as a teachable subject in B.Ed. programs
  • number of students engaged in graduate studies who focus on mathematics education.

Such measures will provide evidence that the capacity for high quality mathematics teaching, a foundation for student achievement, is growing in Manitoba.

Conducting Mathematics Education Research in Manitoba
Identifying the most effective approaches to mathematics teaching and learning comes from rigorous, theoretically grounded research. Unfortunately, little research has been done to better understand mathematics classrooms and programs in Manitoba. Claims that discovery learning or other approaches cause poor mathematics achievement cannot be accepted because we lack systematic evidence of what is taking place in Manitoba classrooms. Thus, while drawing on Canadian and international research findings is a good course of action for now, conducting research in Manitoba classrooms, schools and divisions will help us better understand how our curriculum is being enacted.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning: I believe that the recommendations in my brief apply equally to student learning and teaching but rather than duplicate my recommendations in both sections or try to sort them into two groups, I have summarized them all within the "Teaching" focus.

Teaching: Taken together, I believe the following recommendations form the basis of a coherent course of action for improving mathematics outcomes in Manitoba. Implementing these recommendations can be best achieved through collaboration across levels of the education system. My brief explains each recommendation and provides supporting evidence.

  • Enact the existing Manitoba mathematics curriculum rather than devoting resources to revising these documents.
  • Use the eight research-based mathematics teaching practices detailed in NCTM (2014) as the basis for supporting educators to enact the mathematics curriculum in all school divisions.
  • In collaboration with Inuit, Métis and First Nations communities, support teachers in incorporating Indigenous perspectives of mathematics and mathematics teaching and learning in their classrooms.
  • Disrupt beliefs about who is mathematically capable and reduce the mathematics anxiety linked to reduced student achievement by using the eight teaching practices.
  • Offer high-quality sustained professional learning opportunities for K-12 mathematics educators using collaborative inquiry approaches based on research about effective professional learning for mathematics teachers.
  • Understand the concept of "mathematics knowledge for teaching (MKT)" and put strategies in place to build Manitoba educators MKT.
  • Leverage the power of classroom assessment for improved mathematics learning by increasing emphasis on observation, questioning and providing feedback to students.
  • Measure improvements in mathematics learning in varied ways in addition to large-scale assessments and graduation rates.
  • Conduct rigorous research focused on how the mathematics curriculum is enacted in Manitoba classrooms.

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 50

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Michelle McHale

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning

Brief: Summary
Children have a fundamental right to an education free from discrimination. But for LGBTTQ* students and LGBTTQ* families, this right is not always a reality.

This document uses “LGBTTQ*” as an umbrella term used to recognize gender and sexual identities including, but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, asexual, and ally. The asterisk represents folks who self-identify and self-define their identities for themselves.

Currently, the Province of Manitoba, through Manitoba Education and Training, fails to provide adequate LGBTTQ*-inclusive learning materials and curriculum requirements for students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12), and most significantly for K-9 students. This failure, compounded by policies that permit schools to exclude discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity altogether, results in discrimination against and the erasure of LGBTTQ* students and families.

This comprehensive review of the K-12 Education System represents a significant opportunity for the Province of Manitoba to become a leader in creating safe learning environments where all students can thrive by mandating the use of educational materials that reflect the diversity of Manitoba families, including LGBTTQ* students and families, in all grades and subject matters from early to senior years. Other provinces have recognized the benefits of LGBTTQ*-inclusive education and are making it a priority, including Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Yukon.

The diversity of Manitoba families, including matters of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, must be discussed in classrooms throughout the province in a positive and informed manner. Students must see themselves and their families reflected at school to know that they and their families matter. They need to understand the world and the diversity of people in it. The provincial curriculum must be designed and delivered in a non-discriminatory manner that reflects, respects and celebrates the diversity of families.

Literature from Canada and other countries demonstrates that the combination of LGBTTQ*-inclusive education, the implementation of LGBTTQ*-specific anti-bullying policies and guidelines, as well as training for educators and schools has demonstrated positive results towards improving school climate for all students, including for LGBTTQ* students and families.

Manitoba's School System
Manitoba Education and Training is the government department responsible for education in the Province of Manitoba where the school system is comprised of public schools, provincially-funded independent schools, non-funded independent schools, and homeschooling.

The mandate of Manitoba Education and Training is to “provide direction and allocate resources in support of youth programming and K-12 education in public and funded independent schools” (see www.edu.gov.mb.ca/edu/mandate.html) and it also has significant responsibilities around each kind of school in Manitoba (www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/schools/gts.html). Except for homeschooling, all other modes of school are expressly required to deliver an education equivalent to that provided in a public school. Homeschooling must also be included to represent and educate on the diversity of all families in Manitoba.

The Minister of Education sets the provincial curriculum, which serves as the required standard of a public education in the province of Manitoba (see e.g. The Public Schools Act, CCSM c P250, at s 41(1)(a.1) in concert with the Appropriate Educational Programming Regulation, Man Reg 155/2005, s2(1) which requires school boards to provide the curriculum as prescribed or approved by the Minister).

Manitoba's School System Must Reflect the Diversity of Families
While children have a fundamental right to an education free from discrimination, for LGBTTQ* students and families, this right is not always a reality.

Equity and inclusion have been identified by Manitoba Education and Training as foundational principles which are “essential for the education system and must be integrated into all policies, programs, operations and practices.” (www.edu.gov.mb.ca/edu/mandate.html).

Under the The Public Schools Act, s 41(1)(a.1) and (b.1), school boards have a duty to provide appropriate educational programming and to ensure every student “is provided with a safe and caring school environment that fosters and maintains respectful and responsible behaviours.” In addition, under s 41(1)(b.4), school boards have a responsibility to establish a written policy concerning respect for human diversity, and ensure its implementation in schools.

In my experience, there is a disconnect between these obligations and LGBTTQ* students' and families lived experiences.

How the Provincial Curriculum Fails LGBTTQ* Students and Families
While many schools and educators across Manitoba are committed to providing an inclusive education to students, too many schools are failing to live up to their legal obligations to promote and enhance a safe and inclusive learning environment for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Currently, inadequate curriculum guidelines and a patchwork of inadequate school division/district policies, some of which are incredibly dated, are enabling this failure.

While a relatively modest number of curriculum documents suggest that human diversity should be recognized, accepted and celebrated in learning environments, specific LGBTTQ*-inclusive learning materials and curriculum requirements are sorely lacking. Compounding this problem is the fact that curricula discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation is most prominent within the Physical Education/Health guidelines where the province identifies all facets of “human sexuality” as “potentially sensitive content” (www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/physhlth/c_overview.html).

This reduces integral facets of a person's identity to “potentially sensitive content”, which does not reflect the reality of LGBTTQ* students and families. Manitoba Education and Training gives school boards and divisions or districts considerable discretion regarding “potentially sensitive content” which allows schools to opt out of any positive and meaningful discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation. The curriculum as it exists allows school boards/divisions/districts to defend the continued exclusion of LGBTTQ* students and families from classroom discussions, resulting in continuing discrimination.

While Manitoba schools are required to have a policy regarding respect for diversity, which includes the promotion of a safe and inclusive learning environment as well as training teachers and staff regarding bullying prevention, policies focused on safety and physical violence do not address the roots contributing to an unsafe school climate, namely the lack of positive representations and discussions of the diversity of Manitoba families, including LGBTTQ* students and families, in classrooms and other school settings. This leaves schools ill-equipped and reacting to harms students are experiencing, instead of fostering environments that proactively prevent harm in the first place.

A curricula which does not mandate LGBTTQ*-inclusive learning materials contributes to a culture of exclusion and stigmatization that can have severe and lasting consequences for individuals and families. Without mandatory LGBTTQ*-inclusive learning materials and curriculum requirements for all grade levels from early years to senior years, the gap between policy, practice and the lived experiences of students and families only widens and is untenable. The Necessity of LGBTTQ*-inclusive curricula in ending discrimination
Opportunity for Manitoba to be a Leader in LGBTTQ*-inclusive Education

This comprehensive review of the K-12 Education System in Manitoba represents an opportunity for Manitoba to become a leader in LGBTTQ*-inclusive education, in accordance with best practices and the latest available research.

Consequences of Failing to Mandate LGBTTQ*-inclusive Education
In Canada and internationally, there are very high incidences of LGBTTQ*-phobic bullying and harassment in schools, contributing to a hostile school climate and an overall unsafe environment for all students. School-based victimization of LGBTTQ* students can have profound consequences for students' school success, health and well-being, including being at higher risk of dropping out, having higher levels of mental health concerns and substance abuse, lower grades, higher levels of anxiety, depression and higher rates of suicide. The following is a non-exhaustive list of sources which document the difficult reality for many LGBTTQ* students and families:

  • Christine Bellini, “The Pink Lesson Plan: Addressing the Emotional Needs of Gay and Lesbian Students in Canadian Teacher Education Programs” (2012) 9:4 J LGBT Youth 373;
  • Shannon D, Snapp et al, “LGBTQ-Inclusive Curricula: Why Supportive Curricula Matter” (2015) 15:6 Sex Education 580 at 581;
  • Todd A Savage and G Thomas Schandling Jr, “Creating and Maintaining Safe and Responsive Schools for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youths: Introduction to the Special Issue” (2013) 12:1 J School Violence 1 at 3;
  • Holly Bishop and Heather Casida, “Preventing Bullying and Harassment of Sexual Minority Students in Schools”, (2011) 84:4 Clearing House: A J Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas 134 at 135;
  • 2017 GLSEN National Climate Survey, online: https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/GLSEN-2017-National-School-Climate-Survey-NSCS-Full-Report.pdf.

Hidden Curriculum
One of the main causes of victimization of LGBTTQ* students and families is a “hidden curriculum” of heteronormativity, cisnormativity, and the promotion of a gender binary over a gender spectrum.

Heteronormativity teaches students that heterosexuality is the default or “normal” sexual orientation instead of one of many possibilities, and that the preferred or default relationship is between two people of “opposite” genders. Cisnormativity assumes that individuals are cisgender (a person whose gender aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth) and the gender binary is the idea that there are two distinct and opposite genders – male and female. This model is limiting and does not account for the full spectrum of gender identities and expressions.

The hidden curriculum is “composed of the unspoken social norms that are outside of the manifest curriculum but that students are nonetheless expected to learn.” (Donn Short, “Don't Be So Gay!”: Queers, Bullying and Making Schools Safe, (2013) Vancouver: UBC Press, ebook available at: http://site.ebrary.com.libproxy.uwinnipeg.ca/lib/uwinnipeg/reader.action?docID=10650031andppg=1 at 115.)

There is growing recognition that addressing the narrow definitions of bullying and school safety is not enough, and that bullying is in fact a problem of non-inclusive, disrespectful school climates.

Mandating LGBTTQ*-inclusive Materials to Change School Climates
Research demonstrates that one of the most effective approaches to changing school climate is mandating LGBTTQ*-inclusive materials in schools for all grade levels, from early years to senior years.

In other words, an effective approach to creating safe school climates is comprised of “laws, policies and programs that mandate curriculum and educative responses in order to transform knowledge and knowledge systems throughout all years of the schooling experience for all students.” (Donn Short, “Don’t Be So Gay!” Queers, Bullying and Making Schools Safe (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2013) at 223.)

LGBTTQ*-inclusive education is also described as “curriculum, policies, and practices that include positive, accurate information about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two Spirit, queer and questioning people as well as issues related to gender and sexual diversity (GSD), also known as GSD-inclusive education.” (Catherine Taylor, Tracey Peter, Every class in every school: final report on the first national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools, (2011) Toronto: Egale Canada Human Rights Trust at 20.)

The following is a non-exhaustive list of practical examples implementing an LGBTTQ*-inclusive curriculum (see Carolyn Albanese, “Embedding LGBTQ Topics in the Curriculum: Looking at the Need, Examining the Barriers, and Considering the Possibilities in the Secondary School Setting”, (2012), online at: http://www.yrdsb.ca/Programs/PLT/Quest/Documents/2012AlbaneseArticle.pdf at 4):

  • LGBTTQ* personalities in subject areas,
  • historical events that demonstrate the oppression of this group,
  • same-sex word phrases in examples and tests,
  • positive representations of LGBTTQ* community for films and book selection,
  • encourage critical thinking skills through deconstruction,
  • ensure the LGBTTQ* voice is represented when teaching, and
  • use inclusive vocabulary that demonstrates that there is no assumption that everyone in the classroom is heterosexual or cisgender.

A number of jurisdictions in Canada have recognized the benefits of LGBTTQ*-inclusive education and are making it a priority. Other Canadian jurisdictions include Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yukon. Each have recently taken steps beyond safe school policies and gay-straight alliances, recognizing the important role of LGBTTQ*-inclusive education (See e.g. Ontario, Ministry of Education, Realizing the Promise of Diversity: Ontario's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, (ON: Queen's Printer of Ontario, 2009), online: www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/equity.pdf and Saskatchewan, Ministry of Education, Deepening the Discussion: Gender and Sexual Diversity, (2015), online: www.publications.gov.sk.ca/documents/11/84995-Deepening the Discussion_Saskatchewan Ministry of Education Oct 2015 FINAL.pdf).

Teacher and staff training
Complementary to mandated LGBTTQ*-inclusive material, there is also need for training and personal development for educators on LGBTTQ* issues, including pre-employment and continuing personal development during their career. Working directly with students on a daily basis, teachers have a significant impact on making the school environment safe for all students, including LGBTTQ* youth.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: One of the long-term goals of the K-12 education system in Manitoba should be to foster safe and inclusive learning environments in which the diversity of Manitoba families is represented from early to senior years and where all students see themselves reflected and can thrive, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The purpose of the K-12 education system should include preparing students to thrive in a diverse and rapidly changing world by exposing students to the diversity of individuals and families in Manitoba, Canada and globally, thereby fostering inclusion, acceptance and the protection of fundamental human rights.

Student Learning: In order for all students to thrive in a safe learning environment, students must be able to see themselves and their families reflected in Manitoba's school system. To achieve these learning conditions, LGBTTQ*-inclusive materials should be mandated in all subjects for all grades from K-12.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of practical examples implementing an LGBTTQ*-inclusive curriculum: LGBTQ personalities in subject areas, historical events that demonstrate the oppression of this group, same-sex word phrases in examples and tests, positive representations of LGBTQ community for films and book selection, encourage critical thinking skills through deconstruction, ensure the LGBTQ voice is represented when teaching, use inclusive vocabulary that demonstrates that there is no assumption that everyone in the classroom is heterosexual or cisgender (see Carolyn Albanese, “Embedding LGBTQ Topics in the Curriculum: Looking at the Need, Examining the Barriers, and Considering the Possibilities in the Secondary School Setting”, (2012), online at: http://www.yrdsb.ca/Programs/PLT/Quest/Documents/2012AlbaneseArticle.pdf).

To promote a safe learning environment for LGBTTQ* students and recognizing that not every family is supportive of a student's LGBTTQ* identity, curriculum materials should specify that if a student discloses that they are LGBTTQ* to a staff member, that information will be held in confidence and not shared without the student's permission.

Teaching: To enable teachers, staff and school leaders to provide a safe learning environment in which all students can thrive, tools and training on LGBTTQ*-inclusive materials, policies and best practices should be made available and mandatory during initial teacher training and on an ongoing basis during employment.

Accountability for Student Learning: The provincial government, through the setting of the provincial curriculum, plays a significant role in setting the standard for K-12 education in this province. LGBTTQ*-inclusive materials should be mandated at the provincial curriculum level to encourage consistency within the province and to ensure that all students, regardless of where they live, can attend school in a safe environment where the diversity of Manitoba families is reflected and celebrated.

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 51

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Marlene Waldron

Organization: Rehabilitation Centre for Children

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Funding

Brief: Executive Summary
Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists are highly trained healthcare professionals focussed on understanding the relationship between person, environment and occupation. For children, a primary environment and occupation is the school setting. Students benefit from these therapies, which can reduce future costs to the education, health and social services systems (CAOT, 2002).

Occupational Therapists focus on identifying students’ strengths, factors that may be interfering with their learning, challenges in the classroom environment and the learning task at hand. Occupational Therapy is also “uniquely positioned profession to provide quality mental health services in environments where people live, work and play” (CAOT, 2017).

Physiotherapists support children to obtain their highest level of functional independence by developing gross motor skills, participating in physical education and recess, assisting with equipment needs, accessibility and safety. Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists collaborate with school teams and families to support children.

Research supports the effectiveness of therapy in school settings by helping children attain goals and develop skills to maximize school performance, physical literacy and mental and social health (Cairney, 2019). In Manitoba, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy are provided within school settings either through schools directly hiring therapists, or through contracting with organizations such as the Rehabilitation Centre for Children. Referrals to these professions are increasing steadily each year without staffing increases to meet the needs.

Context
The Healthy Child Manitoba Early Development Instrument data from 2016-17 shows that 25% of kindergarten students have difficulty performing skills requiring gross and fine motor competence and 23% do not demonstrate advanced literacy skills (reading and writing simple words/sentences). Kindergarten teachers reported that 37% of children lack prosocial/ helping behaviours and 13% show hyperactive/ inattentive behaviour. These skills are foundational for all learning.

Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists support development of foundational skills. Fine and gross motor skills are foundational to the development of efficient printing skills. These skills lead to proficient writers who write with ease and speed in all subjects. Printing builds a solid foundation for success in all subjects.

The numbers of students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder and anxiety continues to increase significantly in school children. (Bitsko, R. et al,2018) When the needs of these students are misunderstood or unmanaged they display behaviours in response to stress, struggle with social participation and negatively impact safety in the learning environment. Research shows that students displaying anxiety frequently develop depression unless there is timely intervention.

Not only do we need programming to support prosocial behaviour in students, but we need to take a health promotion approach. Arbesman, Bazyk and Nochajski (2013) concluded that there is strong evidence to support the provision of health promotion services in schools and Occupational Therapists are ideally suited to support children in acquiring skills needed for optimal mental health. With strong roots in mental health, and recognized as a core mental health profession (AOTA, 2010) Occupational Therapists are uniquely trained and qualified to address mental health challenges experienced by children and youth (De Ruiter Blackwell and Bilics, 2018). Occupational Therapists can also support mental health promotion by collaborating with school teachers and counsellors to provide emotional-regulation lessons, teach social skills and social thinking skills for use by students on the playground and in the classroom (Ball, 20181).

Teachers perceive Occupational Therapists as valuable yet underutilized contributors to the education team, and that the teacher-therapist relationship is vital to promoting success for children with challenges in the school environment (Benson et al., 2016). More than 50% of teachers wanted more opportunities to work with Occupational Therapists.

Approach
Current research highlights the success of using the three tiers of response to intervention (RTI) to deliver Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy in educational settings (Chu, 2017). This model supports a change in thinking from an individual deficit-driven model, to a whole-school strength-based approach where therapists provide service as a collaborative member of the team more often through school-wide, whole classroom, and small group interventions (Ivey et al., 2012).

Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists work at all three levels supporting students. In tier one, therapists provide whole class or programs designed for all children. For example, Occupational Therapists can work with school staff to teach self-regulation in the classroom. In tier two, therapists provide targeted intervention to a smaller sub-group of students in a cost-effective manner to teach children a variety of skills. Therapists can provide individualized services in tier three, collaborating on individual educational plans to support functional outcomes.

The use of Rehabilitation Assistants (under the supervision of Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists) as educational assistants should be considered. Rehabilitation Assistants receive education and training in physical and mental health challenges, understand the underlying factors and safety skills required when working with children. They come with a strong foundation of knowledge in areas such as: lifts and transfers of students with mobility challenges, running small group interventions or providing individual intervention in Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy or Speech and Language Pathology.

Therapists are trained and educated to use a child-centered, trauma-informed lens, with culturally safe practices that can be helpful in observing the root cause of behaviours, reframing the understanding of behaviours and altering expectations of the adults in the environment (Whalen, 2003) while also providing support with practical individual and/or classroom strategies which enhance positive classroom environment and improves safety for all. At the Rehabilitation Centre for Children, we focus on providing Indigenous cultural learning opportunities to ensure our 60 therapists are supporting children, families and schools in a culturally safe manner.

A new model of mental health delivery and care
Occupational Therapists are the perfect candidates to collaborate with school staff to develop mental health promotion programs that benefit all students. Public school systems are an area of practice in which Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists can positively impact and their role can continue to be expanded to promote mental health of school-aged children and support school administrators in implementing school-wide programming (Ball, 2018). Teachers report needing “improved instructional resources and training to reach all students” as 87% report teaching students with behavioural issues that interfere with teaching (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2012). The majority of those teachers reported a strong impact on student achievement with in-school behavioural support of clinicians, such as Occupational Therapists.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as a “state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community.” (WHO, 2017). Through their Masters’ level degree, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists are equipped to address the needs of children and have the knowledge and skills to support schools in implementing individual, classroom, or school-wide programs to promote positive mental and physical health. This is what we want for our students in the education system in Manitoba to experience and become productive members in our community.

Recommendations

  1. Establish a 3-tiered model to deliver Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy services to schools, emphasizing collaboration, early intervention and addressing student learning needs. This will strengthen the preventative and proactive components of the entire education system, and has been shown to be a cost-effective method of delivering school-based Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy (CAOT, 2002).
  2. Utilize Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists to help teachers better understand and implement inclusive teaching methods through teacher training, in-services and co-teaching in classrooms.
  3. Engage rehabilitation assistants as educational assistants to support small group or individualized interventions supported by Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists.

Conclusion
Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists are skilled in understanding and supporting appropriate education programming for all students, particularly adapting tasks to the level a student needs to be successful (the just right “fit” or challenge), breaking down tasks or modifying to meet individual student needs and identifying appropriate supports to ensure all students are able to be active and engaged participants in their learning. As collaborative teaming increases, teachers’ perceptions of the therapists’ contribution to student skill development increased (Casillas, 2010) suggesting that positive education outcomes are influenced by the effective collaboration between these professions.

Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists can support early intervention and implementation of programming to support gross and fine motor skills, including printing skills, in early year’s classrooms through screening assessments, co-teaching, and/or small group work. These skills will support increased success with written work, improve education outcomes and decrease secondary effects of poor self-esteem and academic performance in later years.

Children who are regulated and engaged are available for learning, listening and sharing, which enhances educational outcomes and creates a positive learning environment. Successful children will become successful adults who are able to contribute in meaningful ways to society, rather than burden social services, health services, and other government funded systems. Timely access to Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Rehabilitation Assistants, using a 3-tiered model of service delivery, can save money by supporting children to learn new skills or adapt the learning environment and support the teacher to focus on delivering curriculum and develop safe, supportive relationships with the students in their classrooms.

All children deserve the supports they need to succeed in school, and participate in meaningful ways. Students who are successful early in school continue to thrive off these successes and be open and excited to learn. Timely access to Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy services province-wide will improve appropriate educational programming for all.

References
American Occupational Therapy Association (2010). Specialized knowledge and skills in Mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention in Occupational Therapy practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64(Supp l.), S30–S43.

Arbesman, M., Bazyk, S., and Nochajski, S. M. (2013). Systematic review of Occupational Therapy and mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention for children and youth. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67(6), e120–e130.

Ball, Maria A. (2018). Revitalizing the OT role in school-based practice: Promoting success for all students, Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention, 11(3), 263-272.

Benson, Jeryl D., Szucs, Kimberly A. and Mejasic, J.J. (2016) Teachers’ perceptions of the role of Occupational therapist in schools, Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention, 9:3, 290-301.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (2012). Primary sources: America’s teachers on the teaching profession. Retrieved from https://www.scholastic.com/primarysources/pdfs/Gates2012_full.pdf

Bitsko, R., Holbrook, J., Ghandour, R., Blumberg, S., Visser, S., Perou,R., and Walkup, J. (2018) Epidemiology and Impact of Health Care Provider- Diagnosed Anxiety and Depression Among US Children. Retrieved from: https://journals.lww.com/jrnldbp/Citation/2018/06000/Epidemiology_and_Impact_of_Health_Care.6.aspx

Cairney, J., Dudley, D., Kwan, M., Bulten, R., Kriellaars, D. (2019) Physical Literacy, Physical Activity and Health: Toward an Evidence Informed Conceptual Model. Sports Medicine, 49 (3): 371-383.

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (2017) CAOT Position Statement: Occupational Therapy and Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.caot.ca/document/6127/PS_MentalHealthCare_2017.pdf

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (2002). How Occupational Therapy makes a difference in the school system: A summary of the literature. Occupational Therapy Now, 4(3), 15–18.

CanChild Centre for Disability Research (2012). Partnering for Change. Ontario: McMaster University. Retrieved from https://canchild.ca/en/resources/119-partnering-for-change-model

Casillas, D. (2010). Teachers’ perceptions of school-based Occupational Therapy consultation: Part 2. Special Interest Section Quarterly, 17(2), 1–4.

Chu, Sidney. (2017) Supporting children with special educational needs (SEN): An introduction to a 3-tiered school-based Occupational Therapy model of service delivery in the United Kingdom, World Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin, 73:2, 107-116.

DeRuiter Blackwell, C. and Bilics, A. (2018). Preparing Occupational Therapy students to address mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention in school-based practice, Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention, 11:1, 77-86.

Healthy Child Manitoba (2017). The Early Development Instrument (EDI) Report. Retrieved from https://www.gov.mb.ca/healthychild/edi/edi_1617/2016_17_edi_provincial_report.pdf

Ivey, C., Clark, G. F., Cahill, S., McGuire, B., McClosky, S., Jackson, L., and Polichino, J. (2012). Response to intervention in the classroom – your questions answered. OT Practice, p. 18–20.

Missiuna, C., Pollock, N., Campbell, W., Bennett, S., Hecimovich, C., Gaines, R., Molinaro, E. (2012) Use of the Medical Research Council Framework to develop a complex intervention in paediatric Occupational Therapy: assessing feasibility. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 35(5), 1443-1452.

Whalen, S. (2003). Effectiveness of Occupational Therapy in a School-based setting. Retrieved from https://www.canchild.ca/en/resources/201-effectiveness-of-Occupational-Therapy-in-the-school-environment

World Health Organization (2017). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/mental_health/en/

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: Establish a 3-tiered model to deliver Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy services to schools, emphasizing collaboration, early intervention and addressing student learning needs. This will strengthen the preventative and proactive components of the entire education system, and has been shown to be a cost-effective method of delivering school-based Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy (CAOT, 2002).

Currently our level of service is not able to meet the needs of the students and support our long term vision of all children realizing and meeting their full potential. Occupational therapy and Physiotherapy in the school system not only supports children to meet their full potential, but also supports them to engage to the best of their ability and become successful participants in our community.

References
Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (2002). How Occupational Therapy makes a difference in the school system: A summary of the literature. Occupational Therapy Now, 4(3), 15–18.

Student Learning: Ensure timely access to Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy in the school systems.

All children deserve the supports they need to succeed in school, and participate in meaningful ways. Students who are successful early in school continue to thrive off these successes and be open and excited to learn. Timely access to Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy services province-wide will improve appropriate educational programming for all. Research completed by Chiarello (2016) demonstrated that after one year of Physiotherapy services at school, students improved in four areas: posture/ mobility, recreation and fitness, self-care and academics. Children who are regulated and engaged are available for learning, listening and sharing, which enhances educational outcomes and creates a positive learning environment.

References
Chiarello, L., Effgen, S., Jeffries, L., Westcott McCoy, S. and Bush, H. (2016) Physical Therapy as Measured by Goal Attainment Scaling. Pediatric Physical Therapy. 28: 277-284.

Teaching: Utilize Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists to help teachers better understand and implement inclusive teaching methods through teacher training, in-services and co-teaching in classrooms.

Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists can support early intervention and implementation of programming to support gross and fine motor skills, including printing skills, in early year’s classrooms through screening assessments, co-teaching, and/or small group work. These skills will support increased success with written work, improve education outcomes and decrease secondary effects of poor self-esteem and academic performance in later years. Children who are regulated and engaged are available for learning, listening and sharing, which enhances educational outcomes and creates a positive learning environment.

Education and workshops are provided to school staff at classroom, school, division and provincial levels (SAGE).

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding:

  1. Establish a 3-tiered model to deliver Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy services to schools, emphasizing collaboration, early intervention and addressing student learning needs. This will strengthen the preventative and proactive components of the entire education system, and has been shown to be a cost-effective method of delivering school-based Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy (CAOT, 2002).
  2. Utilize Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists to help teachers better understand and implement inclusive teaching methods through teacher training, in-services and co-teaching in classrooms.
  3. Engage rehabilitation assistants as educational assistants to support small group or individualized interventions supported by Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists.

Successful children will become successful adults who are able to contribute in meaningful ways to society, rather than burden social services, health services, and other government funded systems. Timely access to Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Rehabilitation Assistants, using a 3-tiered model of service delivery, can save money by supporting children to learn new skills or adapt the learning environment and support the teacher to focus on delivering curriculum and develop safe, supportive relationships with the students in their classrooms.

References
Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (2002). How Occupational Therapy makes a difference in the school system: A summary of the literature. Occupational Therapy Now, 4(3), 15–18.

Brief 52

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Millie Braun

Organization: Family Dynamics

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Funding

Brief: The information about the Families and Schools Together program below is sourced directly from the Families and Schools Together FAST® website at www.familiesandschools.org/

Families and Schools Together FAST® is an internationally acclaimed parent engagement program that supports the family bonding necessary for children to thrive.

Built on evidence-based practices and rigorously tested, the Families and Schools Together program

  • Empowers parents to become more effective family leaders;
  • Builds positive connections and social capital between families and schools; and
  • Creates a supportive community engaged in fostering children’s well-being and education.

The cumulative effects of FAST can change the course of children’s lives. After a single 8-week FAST Cycle, children’s school behavior problems improve and emotional problems diminish at home and at school. Parent-child bonding strengthens and family conflict declines. Academic performance improves, and children get along better with their parents and with their peers. In short, FAST applies research and evidence-based family therapy practices to promote the full potential of every child.

Family Dynamics has been delivering FAST programming (FandST) in school divisions in Winnipeg and various rural areas for more than 25 years. We continue to see the strengths and outcomes of the program in each of the school communities we serve.

The FAST Program brings multiple families together once a week in dynamic after-school gatherings. In each session, a trained FAST Team guides families through a scientifically structured agenda of evidence-based activities that enhance parenting skills and reduce family stress while encouraging family bonding. As a result, the family unit of the FAST Child is systematically strengthened with experiences based on family therapy principles that help parents be firmly in charge of and lovingly connected to their children.

Each FAST Session includes group activities as well as one-on-one parent-child interaction and parent group time. FAST activities are educational, fun and emotionally rewarding for all participants.

FAST has one of the highest retention rates among early intervention parenting programs – especially among low-income, stressed and isolated parents: 80% of families who attend one session successfully complete the entire program. Each 8-week FAST Cycle ends with FAST Graduation, a congratulatory and often emotional celebration of the stronger family bonds and better community support achieved by the group. Post-FAST, families continue to meet on a monthly basis which is led by Parent Graduates.

Every FAST Cycle involves four critical phases that assure the program runs smoothly, adheres to evidence-based practices, generates positive outcomes, and provides insights for future improvements.

Learn:
FAST begins with learning. Prior to the first FAST Cycle, a FAST Trainer conducts a comprehensive program orientation to prepare Team Members to run the program.

Plan:
The FAST Team prepares to run the Cycle, organizing logistics such as location and schedule, children’s activities and gathering materials. In addition, the Team plans how it will recruit families to participate in the program.

Do:
The FAST Team launches the FAST Cycle with an open invitation to families of all children and youth within a classroom or grade level. This universal invitation means that “at-risk” students are not singled out, so there is no stigma attached to participating in FAST. Compelling incentives encourage attendance, including fun family activities, a free evening meal and free child care. FAST Parent Partners invite families to “just try it once.” The result: 80% of families who attend one FAST Session will successfully complete the program – one of the highest retention rates among parent empowerment programs.

Review:
FAST Trainers help Teams evaluate the outcomes they’ve achieved. This process provides the feedback that Teams need to understand the impact of FAST in their own communities. Successes are celebrated, and opportunities for improvement are identified and implemented.

Theoretical Foundations:

Social Ecological Theory
Social ecology theory suggests that children develop within a multi-layered “ecosystem” that naturally supports their ability to bond and develop. Numerous studies indicate that when social ecology zones are disturbed, children begin to exhibit stress and behavioral variance that compensates for or exaggerates their condition. The theory states that children bond first and most importantly with the parents, especially a primary caregiver, then with the family unit. This ecology is extended into the school and local social environments, and out into work and wider social settings as children reach adulthood. Central to this theory is the use of relationships to create accountability structures. FAST® is designed to support parents’ role as family leaders, create relationships within and between families, and build social capital between families, schools and the community. (Bronfenbrenner, Genf, Kogan and Barkeley, Minuchin; Satir; Patterson; Alexander, Wahler, Belle, Egeland, Werner and Smith, Gilligan, Freier, Furland)

Family Stress Theory
Family stress theory defines and explores the periodic, acute stressors that happen to all families. When these stressors become frequent or if the individual or family lacks the support of significant relationships, an accumulating residue of insecurity can lead to personal and family crises, including physical, emotional, or relational trauma. Such family crises may include episodes of domestic violence, recurring or chronic substance abuse, illness from weakened immune systems, divorce, accidents, child abuse/neglect, etc.

In the context of these stressors, research suggests that the maintenance or disruption of daily routines is one of the most significant factors affecting children’s sense of security. These routines include personal and shared schedules, habits, rituals, and repetitious environmental stimuli.

The impact of erratic personal activities and the lack of consistent behavior patterns can be muted or buffered with protective factors such as perceptions and social relationships. These positive factors help families to cope, so parents can continue to nurture their children despite chronic and acute stressors.

FAST® helps families manage stresses by introducing rituals designed to strengthen bonds within and between families. In addition, FAST fosters the development of supportive relationships that provide a social “safety net” for stressed families. (Hill, McCubbin, Garbarino and Abramowitz, 1982; Belle, 1980; Cyrnic, Greenberg, Robinson and Ragozin, 1984; Egeland, Breitenbucher and Rosenberg, 1980; Ell, 1984; Lindblad-Goldberg, 1987; Marks and McLanahan, 1993; Simons, Beaman, Conger and Chao, 1993; Tracy, 1990; Wahler, 1983)

Family Systems Theory
Family systems theory establishes a series of “normal” and natural interactions within and between families that builds cohesion and stability. Many researchers have demonstrated optimal and effective mechanics in everyday lives that help bring children into alignment. These activities and norms become buffers and resiliency factors for stresses that can cause insecurity and sudden instability.

The activities of well-functioning family systems include:

  • Parental authority
  • Parental empowerment
  • Parental service to child
  • Child service to parents
  • Experiential communication
  • Experiential habit forming
  • Play and nonverbal communication
  • Meal rituals and hospitality
  • Social rituals, song, meeting space, informal rules
  • Trust in the wisdom and decision of parents
  • Family pride
  • Winning and celebration
  • Family projects
  • Personal expression within the family

These building blocks are used extensively in the FAST® Program, which focuses on experiential learning. Every FAST Session provides many opportunities for parents to learn and practice positive behaviors that help to establish healthy new relational patterns within families. (Minuchin, Alexander, Satir, Patterson, Wolin, Boyd-Franklin)

Community Development
Parent and child accountability within the family is reinforced by accountability factors between families. Isolated, insecure families experience the most behavioral disorders; the children of these families are most at risk. When people are connected to neighbors and friends, they become accountable to each other and depend upon one another as a base of mutual support. FAST® systematically builds these connections by involving families in evidence-based practices that build understanding, trust and the willingness to give and receive assistance. FAST engages families in their children’s education and builds bonds between parents and schools that result in increased parental involvement. In addition, if special circumstances arise for families, FAST helps them gain access to the community services they need to make progress and create success. The relationships and behaviors established during the initial 8-week phase of FAST are sustained and strengthened by participation in FASTWORKS®, the subsequent two-year series of monthly meetings. FASTWORKS places responsibility for the program in the hands of FAST Graduate Parents, giving them the opportunity to build stronger community bonds while honing their leadership and parenting skills. (Walzer, Putnam, Coleman)

Parent Empowerment
Parent empowerment is a core concept of the FAST® Program, as is the conviction that parents are capable of being the primary teachers and nurturers for their own children. Based on this underlying respect for the parent role, FAST strives to build trusting relationships with parents that enable the FAST Team to help parents build protective factors around their children and function more effectively as a family. Through experience and subtle coaching, newly empowered parents gain the skills and confidence they need to guide and motivate their children while reducing conflict. In turn, their children feel empowered and secure, which enhances their ability to do well in school and in relationships. With these basics in place, parents can impart values and rules that help their children grow and thrive. As problems and stresses occur, a strong bond of love and respect helps parents and children cope more effectively and make positive decisions together. Along with this empowerment foundation, FAST espouses the concept that schools should be welcoming to all families, and that policies and practices of organizations should always support and include parents to enhance the parent-child relationship. (McDonald)

Brain Development
The science of brain physiology and development has advanced significantly in recent years as we have gained a clearer understanding of the impact of early life experiences on a child’s ability to learn, develop healthy relationships, and eventually lead a productive, fulfilling life. New brain research has revealed eye-opening information that helps us understand why and how children’s early experiences greatly influence their lifelong capabilities and behaviors. We now have evidence that the brain develops in a “use it or lose it” fashion: babies are born with some 200 billion neurons in the brain, while adults typically have only 80 billion neurons left. This “pruning” of neurons occurs at specific phases throughout childhood when unused neural networks are cleared away, while robust, active networks are preserved. Strong neural networks form with repetition and emotional intensity, so it’s critical to the well-being of children that they grow up in a nurturing, supportive environment that literally shapes the brain for future mental and emotional health. FAST® is designed to provide repeated, emotionally engaging experiences for children and parents that strengthen the love, respect and support within families. In essence, FAST builds the healthy family bonds that help build healthy brains. (Piaget, Erickson, Freud)

Risk and Resiliency
The logic model for the FAST® Program is based on risk and resiliency factors. These primary personal drivers of prevention and intervention keep children on a safe course as they grow. Risk factors can be seen as variables that, when present, cause families to experience more stress, which in turn can contribute to children making unwise, unhealthy choices. The converse of these factors is the set of protective circumstances that predict vastly lower social risks. Resiliency factors allow children to regain a sense of security and enable them to cope with the inevitable and external risk factors that families face. For example, a child who lives in a single parent home, has moved several times, has poor social skills, and has unaccountable free time, faces significant risks for delinquency and drug involvement. Some of these risk factors can be directly modified, but others cannot be readily changed. FAST introduces compensatory resiliency factors to guide and defend young people as they mature. (Kogan, Gordon, Wimberger, Hetherington, Belle, Lewis, Beavers, Gossett, and Phillips, Sayger, Alexander, Minuchin, Lewis, Piercy, Sprenkle, and Trepper, Alexander and Parsons, Elkin, Kumpfer, Crnic, Greenberg, Robinson, and Ragozin, McDonald, Friesen, Johnson, Gaudin, Febrarro, Dunst, Trivette, and Deal)

Recommendation: To invest in training FAST Team Trainers who are qualified to prepare new teams to run FAST programs efficiently and with fidelity and provide sustainable FAST programming to all school divisions across Manitoba, especially schools who serve low socio-economic communities. Research has clearly demonstrated that school success for children is markedly lower in areas of lower household income.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: That all Manitoba students and their families receive excellence in education so they can succeed in the workforce after graduation or advance to post-secondary education, excel in in life and experience the supports and conditions that help them to achieve their full potential. This can be achieved by empowering parents to become more effective family leaders, building positive connections and social capital between families and schools, creating supportive communities that are engaged in fostering children’s well-being and education.

Children bond first and most importantly with the parents, especially a primary caregiver, then with the family unit. This ecology is extended into the school and local social environments, and out into work and wider social settings as children reach adulthood. Central to this theory is the use of relationships to create accountability structures. FAST® is designed to support parents’ role as family leaders, create relationships within and between families, and build social capital between families, schools and the community.

As families continue to face multiple stressors that potentially compromise children’s success, FAST® helps families manage stresses by introducing rituals designed to strengthen bonds within and between families. In addition, FAST fosters the development of supportive relationships that provide a social “safety net” for stressed families. Every FAST Session provides many opportunities for parents to learn and practice positive behaviors that help to establish healthy new relational patterns within families.

Isolated, insecure families experience the most behavioral disorders; the children of these families are most at risk. When people are connected to neighbors and friends, they become accountable to each other and depend upon one another as a base of mutual support. FAST® systematically builds these connections by involving families in evidence-based practices that build understanding, trust and the willingness to give and receive assistance. FAST engages families in their children’s education and builds bonds between parents and schools that result in increased parental involvement. In addition, if special circumstances arise for families, FAST helps them gain access to the community services they need to make progress and create success.

The logic model for the FAST® Program is based on risk and resiliency factors. These primary personal drivers of prevention and intervention keep children on a safe course as they grow. Risk factors can be seen as variables that, when present, cause families to experience more stress, which in turn can contribute to children making unwise, unhealthy choices. The converse of these factors is the set of protective circumstances that predict vastly lower social risks. Resiliency factors allow children to regain a sense of security and enable them to cope with the inevitable and external risk factors that families face.

Recommendation: To invest in training FAST Team Trainers who are qualified to prepare new teams to run FAST programs efficiently and with fidelity and provide sustainable FAST programming to all school divisions across Manitoba, especially schools who serve low socio-economic communities. Research has clearly demonstrated that school success for children is markedly lower in areas of lower median household income.

Student Learning: Educational attainment involves knowledge, skills, and competencies that allow people to participate effectively in society and the economy. All children need to experience the support and conditions necessary for them to thrive and learn. The most basic needs for safety, security, adequate housing, nutrition, sleep, activity, play, and exercise must first be met. Children need to experience the support of their families and schools to enhance their emotional well-being and academic performance.

The Families and Schools Together Program has been proven to improve the quality of children’s lives, strengthen families and empower parents, help schools succeed and build social capital. Its impact is holistic and systemic; a positive prevention/early intervention program that builds stronger relationships in families and among the existing social structures of schools and communities.

The FAST program has demonstrated the following outcomes:

  • Better parent/child relationships
  • More positive relationships with peers
  • Fewer emotional symptoms and fewer behavioural difficulties
  • Reduction in family conflict
  • Increased ability for parents to care and nurture their child
  • Increased family cohesion
  • Better school performance with fewer problem behaviours
  • More positive interactions between parents and teachers
  • Increase parental school involvement
  • Reduction of social marginalization and social isolation
  • Improved relationships among parents
  • Improved community relationships and knowledge of community resources

Long Term Outcomes:

  • Improved school climate
  • Increased graduation rates
  • Reduced spending on special education services
  • Reduced school mobility
  • Strengthened and more cohesive community
  • Prevention of child abuse and neglect
  • Prevention of juvenile delinquency
  • Dropout prevention
  • Prevention of school failure
  • Prevention of mental health issues
  • Prevention of violence

Recommendation: To invest in training FAST Team Trainers who are qualified to prepare new teams to run FAST programs efficiently and with fidelity and provide sustainable FAST programming to all school divisions across Manitoba, especially schools who serve low socio-economic communities. Research has clearly demonstrated that school success for children is markedly lower in areas of lower median household income.

Teaching: N/A

Accountability for Student Learning: Accountability for student learning is achieved by creating supports and conditions that help students succeed; by empowering parents as leaders who provide the necessary basic needs for safety, security, health and well-being of their children; and supporting school administration and staff to engage with families and build communities that support children to achieve their full potential and academic success.

From Families and Schools Together website: http://www.familiesandschools.org/why-fast-works/theoretical-foundations/

Social ecology theory suggests that children develop within a multi-layered “ecosystem” that naturally supports their ability to bond and develop. Numerous studies indicate that when social ecology zones are disturbed, children begin to exhibit stress and behavioral variance that compensates for or exaggerates their condition.

The theory states that children bond first and most importantly with the parents, especially a primary caregiver, then with the family unit. This ecology is extended into the school and local social environments, and out into work and wider social settings as children reach adulthood. Central to this theory is the use of relationships to create accountability structures. FAST® is designed to support parents’ role as family leaders, create relationships within and between families, and build social capital between families, schools and the community.

Parent empowerment is a core concept of the FAST® Program, as is the conviction that parents are capable of being the primary teachers and nurturers for their own children.

Based on this underlying respect for the parent role, FAST strives to build trusting relationships with parents that enable the FAST Team to help parents build protective factors around their children and function more effectively as a family. Through experience and subtle coaching, newly empowered parents gain the skills and confidence they need to guide and motivate their children while reducing conflict. In turn, their children feel empowered and secure, which enhances their ability to do well in school and in relationships.

With these basics in place, parents can impart values and rules that help their children grow and thrive. As problems and stresses occur, a strong bond of love and respect helps parents and children cope more effectively and make positive decisions together.

Along with this empowerment foundation, FAST espouses the concept that schools should be welcoming to all families, and that policies and practices of organizations should always support and include parents to enhance the parent-child relationship.

FAST® builds social capital by connecting people and building trusting relationships. In this environment, social isolation declines and mutual support within and between families flourishes. From this foundation, shared positive values arise naturally – increasing the likelihood that children will make wiser, healthier choices throughout their lives (including educational goals).

Recommendation: To invest in training FAST Team Trainers who are qualified to prepare new teams to run FAST programs efficiently and with fidelity and provide sustainable FAST programming to all school divisions across Manitoba, especially schools who serve low socio-economic communities. Research has clearly demonstrated that school success for children is markedly lower in areas of lower median household income.

Governance: N/A

Funding: Priorities:
1) Families and children who live in poverty; schools that serve low socio-economic communities and Indigenous families. Poverty results in higher rates of failure in completing education and fewer opportunities to lead a full and productive life. Only 50% of children who live in the poorest neighbourhoods are ready to learn when they enter school; up to 40% are not graduating and continue in the cycle of poverty. Youth have a 75% better chance of graduating with a mentor’s guidance. https://unitedwaywinnipeg.ca/all-that-kids-can-be/

Enabling equitable access for all families, especially those at risk because of poverty, isolation and social marginalization to participate in FAST programing increases the possibilities of student success in academics and life.

2) Reaching Children in Care
“School connectedness can be and should be a protective factor in the lives of children in care. School connectedness is the belief of students that adults and peers in school care about their learning and about them as individuals. The report put forward by MCHP described the limited successes many children in care have experienced in public schools despite the best efforts of supportive professionals… While we have limited information on this area in Manitoba, we do know that students in general are more likely to engage in healthy behaviours and succeed academically when they feel connected to school. Strategies for boosting the school connectedness of young people in care may prove beneficial to interrupting and preventing the educational trajectories of disengagement and low academic attainment. Every effort should be made to keeping young people at school, so they have the opportunity to enjoy the social and intellectual rewards that positive schooling experiences can offer...it is . . . well-known that there is an overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care in Manitoba. Almost 90% of the children in care in Manitoba are Indigenous”. Manitoba Task Force on Educational Outcomes of Children in Care

3) Reaching children in their early developmental stages.
FAST® – Elementary School level reaches children ages 3-10 at early developmental stages, with the aim of reducing critical barriers to success they may encounter during their initial introduction to school. A family’s structure and stability create the foundation for children to be successful in school, and FAST Activities are designed to strengthen family bonds, empower parents, increase positive communication and improve the child’s overall academic performance and emotional functioning.

Recommendation: To invest in training FAST Team Trainers who are qualified to prepare new teams to run FAST programs efficiently and with fidelity and provide sustainable FAST programming to all school divisions across Manitoba, especially schools who serve low socio-economic communities. Research has clearly demonstrated that school success for children is markedly lower in areas of lower median household income.

Brief 53

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Noni Classen

Organization: Canadian Centre for Child Protection

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance

Brief: About the Canadian Centre for Child Protection
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection Inc. (C3P) is a registered charity dedicated to the personal safety of all children. Our goal is to reduce the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, to assist in the location of missing children, to prevent child victimization, and educate the Canadian public about ways to keep children safe. C3P continues to innovate and develop our programming by gleaning information from our operation of Cybertip.ca, Canada’s tipline to report the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Through this information, C3P creates resources for law enforcement, educators, and families to reduce the risk of victimization to children and youth.

Overview
C3P recommends that the Manitoba Commission on Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education implements a number of measures to protect Manitoba’s children from sexual abuse and exploitation, and provide them with appropriate educational supports and referrals when such abuse or exploitation occurs. More specifically, these measures include:

  • personal safety education for students, delivered every year
  • child sexual abuse awareness training for all school personnel
  • assessing and managing risk within the school environment through clear and enforceable policies and procedures, and creating meaningful structures of accountability
  • enhancing supports for students who have experienced trauma.

The above recommendations are outlined in the sections that follow.
1) Safety Education for Students
Keeping Manitoba’s children safe from sexual abuse and exploitation requires clearly identifying and addressing the various risks children face every day, both offline and online. Students must be equipped with the knowledge to understand and recognize unsafe situations, and be empowered with effective personal safety strategies to reduce their likelihood of victimization. They need to know who they can safely tell when they are in trouble or feeling unsafe and how they can come forward about concerning situations. There must be uniformity in teaching curricular outcomes at every age level - safety education is not something that is taught once and retained. It needs to be reinforced frequently and adapted as the child ages. Examples of topics that must be covered include body safety knowledge, healthy relationships, safe adults, and Canadian law relating to consent, sexual offences, and children’s rights.

How C3P can help:
Kids in the Know (KIK) is a national, interactive, safety education program that uses age-appropriate lessons to increase children’s personal safety skills in order to reduce their risk of victimization online and offline. Taught in numerous school divisions across Canada, KIK uses interactive lessons to build personal safety confidence by teaching critical problem-solving skills. Designed for Kindergarten to high school, the program allows educators to adapt the lesson plans and activities to meet the individual needs of every child. KIK is an approved resource by Manitoba education ministry since 2004 and matched to curricula outcomes. By mandating the use of Kids in the Know province-wide, and implementing it consistently we can ensure that all Manitoba children are provided with the tools they need to reduce their victimization online and offline.

2) Education of Teachers/School Personnel
According to research, 1 in 10 Canadians reported being sexually victimized before they turned 18, and in the majority of cases the offender was known to the child. Schools are well placed to help combat the problem of child sexual abuse by strengthening appropriate formal structures (e.g., comprehensive policies and procedures). Such structures include: hiring and screening policies (beyond criminal record checks); staff supervision policies; guidelines outlining appropriate boundaries between staff and students; sexual boundary violations training; and student education about child sexual abuse (beyond statutory duty to report).

Senior management, principals, teachers, and student support staff have privileged relationships with children and it is critical that systems for safeguarding students be embedded within a culture of prevention and protection; where all adults place the needs of students above their own needs.

Accordingly, regardless of their role in the school community, as a condition of their employment, all school division personnel, school board trustees, educators and school staff should undergo regular child sexual abuse awareness training, including how to recognize and report suspected or disclosed abuse, Canadian laws relating to sexual offences against children, and how to recognize and address boundary breaking behaviour. Training should be modernized to understand differential offending – stranger, intrafamilial and extrafamilial. Staff also need training to understand child sexual abuse and how boundary violations are tied to personal safety.

In schools trust must be the cornerstone of the professional relationship between an adult and a child. When a child goes to school, the child and the child’s family trusts that the adults who work there are safe to be around. There is no question the majority of adults working in schools respect their positions of trust and authority with students. There are some, however, who have a propensity to take advantage of their unique access and relationships with children to transgress professional boundaries and sexualize their relationship with children. Although most schools have clear policies regarding the reporting of child abuse, a grey area can exist where inappropriate interactions and concerns may not meet the reporting threshold, and thus are not addressed in a meaningful way. It is not always clear how to handle these grey area issues within a school context, which can be complicated by the confusion surrounding reporting responsibilities of the Codes of Ethics/Professional Conduct. The difference between reporting professional competency (tied to code of ethics) and reporting seemingly inappropriate teacher/student relationships (tied to child safety) is not always clear to teachers. This can present a barrier for teachers when addressing situations that involve a fellow teacher and a student.

Maintaining appropriate boundaries between adults working in schools and students are essential to child safety. Boundary violations are acts that involve adults breaching the intent of the relationship and exploiting their legitimate access to meet their personal needs, rather than students’ needs. Examples of boundary violations can include a school employee, without the knowledge of the parent or school, spending time socially with one or more students outside of the classroom or legitimate school context, texting or using social media accounts to communicate with one or more students about non-school matters, or otherwise spending time with a child alone - within or outside of the school environment - without transparency or accountability for the interaction.

Children are dependent on school personnel for their education, and parents are dependent on school personnel to keep their children safe. As such, boundary violations by school personnel must be identified and addressed at an early stage to facilitate correction and ensure student safety. Boundary violations can erode students’ sense of security and have significant cognitive and emotional impacts, as well as make a child more susceptible to boundary violations by others. In order to prevent and disrupt potential child sexual abuse, school personnel need to be able to identify areas and situations of risk, and be in a position to safely address concerning behaviours and interactions that are taking place between adults and children.

How C3P can help:
C3P’s Commit to Kids program helps child-serving organizations (such as schools and day care centres) reduce the risk of sexual abuse and create safer environments for children in their care. The program’s tools provide organizations with information on the issue of child sexual abuse which forms the basis for educated policies and procedures. The Commit to Kids program helps organizations highlight strengths and gaps in their policies, manage risks, create a child protection code of conduct, review hiring, supervising, and monitoring practices, and establish reporting procedures for misconduct and sexual abuse concerns.

3) Transparency and Accountability
Ensuring student safety at school requires concrete policies and procedures which are structured to ensure transparency and accountability to children, families, and the public. A lack of oversight and transparency increases the risk of boundary violations between staff and students. Policies can be established to increase transparency for contact between staff and students outside of sanctioned school activities and programs.

Concrete policies and standards of practice where individuals are transparent and accountable for contact with students and are able to safely consult about boundary concerns reinforces professionalism and maintains safety and security. Holding people to high standards of expectations in their interactions with children and establishing a common understanding of standards for interactions with students in schools creates a culture that protects children. Correcting behaviour is not only a professional development opportunity for staff, but if someone is seeking sexual access, this is the opportunity to disrupt the grooming process.

All teachers have a legal duty to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. While the scope of this duty may be readily understandable when abuse is obvious, abuse is not always obvious, especially when the abuse is sexual in nature. Thus, ongoing and regular training to assist teachers in meeting their legal obligation is needed. Moreover, there must be a clear way for an educator to distinguish the difference in reporting procedure relating to professional problems with a colleague that do not involve risks to children, as opposed to abuse concerns about a child or concerns surrounding inappropriate boundaries between a teacher and a student. There is both a legal and an ethical obligation to ensure any suspected abuse is reported to help ensure the safety of children.

Research concerning the sexual abuse of K-12 students by school personnel in Canadian contexts is limited. C3P undertook a study to address this deficiency by gathering data from disciplinary decisions of educator misconduct, media reports, and published case law concerning child/student sexual abuse cases (between 1997 and 2017) that involved any individual employed (or formerly employed) in a Canadian K-12 school. The full study, “The Prevalence of Sexual Abuse by K-12 School Personnel in Canada, 1997-2017,” was published in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, accessible at: https://doi.org/10.1080/10538712.2018.1477218

For these reasons, C3P recommends that disciplinary decisions of teachers for sexual misconduct should be publically available. There are many benefits: acting as a deterrent for the Member and as a more general deterrent for other members of the teaching profession; providing reassurance to the public by letting the public know that the teaching profession takes decisive action when misconduct is brought to its attention; ensuring there is a public record of serious cases of professional misconduct – including those cases which do not result in criminal charges and might otherwise remain largely unknown to the general public; ensuring that appropriate checks could be concluded for all prospective employees; helping prevent school administrators from transferring teachers suspected of behaving badly to another school with no consequences; and instilling confidence in teachers, the teaching profession, and the safety of schools by demonstrating that serious cases of professional misconduct (especially those involving sexual abuse of students) are relatively few compared to the overall population of teachers.

4) Trauma-Informed Processes when a student has experienced a traumatic event
Educators have a critical role to play in shaping the attitudes and beliefs of young people in reducing the stigmatization, and associated blame that is often tied to sexual violence. In order to better protect children and prevent tragedies, systems and services that help support youth (and families) through times of crisis must be mobilized. For this reason, schools must implement training, policies and practices to support children who have experienced abuse and trauma. These policies must be trauma-informed, and must take into consideration the various scenarios a child may find themselves in, as reflected in the following recommendations.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: N/A

Student Learning:

  • Provincial curricular outcomes must equip students with the skills and competencies to reduce risk and learn how to recognize, prevent and report child sexual abuse. This teaching must begin early and be reinforced often. Curriculum should be based on a child’s developmental level and be adapted to include areas of known risk that are associated with each age/developmental level.
  • Child Sexual Abuse Awareness education must also be available to parents, so that they are able to have a full understanding of why these curricular outcomes are so essential to their children’s safety, and so that similar messaging can be presented both at school and home. By building these bridges between home and school, parents and children will feel more empowered to recognize boundary-breaking behaviour, and feel more comfortable coming forward with concerns.

Teaching:

  • All staff within a school environment (custodians, administrative assistants, bus drivers, lunchtime supervisors, Before and After School Care workers, etc.) require child sexual abuse awareness training to enhance their capacity to recognize and address areas of risk within the school environment, and be better equipped to respond as necessary.
  • All staff within a school environment require regular training on their legal duty to report where there is a reasonable belief that a child is in need of protection under the Child and Family Services Act, coupled with training and guidelines for supporting students who have disclosed or for whom abuse has been discovered

Accountability for Student Learning:

  • Schools must implement trauma-informed practices, policies and procedures to better support students who have experienced abuse or trauma.

Governance:

  • Manitoba ministry establishes provincial standards for safeguarding children in schools from child sexual abuse including but not limited to the following broad areas:
    a. hiring and screening practices
    b. education and training for students and staff
    c. a code of conduct for staff
    d. oversight and accountability for professional boundaries with students, including communications, travel and transportation, and picture taking
    e. separate reporting and documenting policies for misconduct and child sexual abuse
    f. training and child protective follow-up procedures on reporting
    g. education for students and parents.
  • In conjunction with training, it is important to develop and maintain a school code of conduct for staff that outlines the expectation of professional boundaries between school staff and students, and set standards for what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable. This must include responsible-use-of-technology policies (by both staff and students) that outline the acceptable and unacceptable uses of digital devices and electronic communications between educators and students, including guidelines for communicating with students on social networking sites and the appropriate use of cameras.
  • A process must be in place for school personnel, caregivers and students to safely report concerns about a staff member breaching the expectations as outlined in the code of conduct to a superior who is empowered and trained on responding in a child-centred manner.
  • Anonymous reporting. Establishing and making available a mechanism for students, teachers, parents and community members who have concerns about possible breaches of professional boundaries between teachers and students to raise the concerns anonymously. These reporting mechanisms must be child-centred and child-friendly.
  • Investigation. School Divisions should appoint a team of at least two individuals to handle all reports, concerns and incidents regarding teacher misconduct in an effort to centralize the information reported. This is where all rumours, allegations, or complaints are reported within the School Division. Having all information centralized allows patterns of inappropriate behaviour to be identified and managed early.
  • Manitoba ministry ensures there is a public record of serious professional misconduct where teachers are sanctioned or lose their teaching certificate.
  • Teacher certification is adjusted to ensure training in child sexual abuse awareness and prevention is required, and that teachers formally commit to the best interests of children through a written pledge.
  • Manitoba ministry establishing an expectation that teachers will undergo a specified number of hours of professional development related to protecting children from abuse each year

Funding: N/A

Brief 54

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Société de la francophonie manitobaine

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Governance

Brief: L’éducation en français au Manitoba a connu une histoire mouvementée et cette revue est un moment opportun pour réaffirmer et renforcer l’éducation en français dans notre province. La SFM veut profiter de cette occasion pour faire valoir deux éléments, que présente la DSFM, dans le cadre de la revue. D’abord, il est important de réaffirmer les obligations de la province par rapport à l’éducation de langue minoritaire et de souligner l’engagement de ce gouvernement avec l’adoption de la Loi sur l’appui à l’épanouissement de la francophonie manitobaine. Ensuite, la SFM aimerait réitérer une des recommandations des partenaires pour l’éducation en français qui avait été acheminée au gouvernement l’an passé, soit la création d’une nouvelle structure administrative regroupant le continuum en éducation de langue française.

(1) Droit à l’éducation – minorité francophone du Manitoba

Comme vous le savez bien, l’article 23 de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés accorde le droit à l’éducation à la minorité francophone du Manitoba. Au-delà d’une simple obligation, la Cour suprême du Canada affirme l’en 1990 dans la cause Mahé c. Alberta, que l’objet de cet article est de « maintenir les deux langues officielles du Canada ainsi que les cultures qu’elles représentent et à favoriser l’épanouissement de chacune de ces langues ». De plus, la Cour confirme dans son jugement que l’article 23 a un « caractère réparateur » cherchant à empêcher l’assimilation des minorités linguistiques.

Voici comment le Commissariat aux langues officielles résume l'impact de cette décision de la Cour suprême :
« La Cour précise que l’article 23 de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés est destiné à « remédier, à l’échelle nationale, à l’érosion progressive des minorités » et à « redresser les injustices du passé ».

La Cour suprême tranche en faveur des parents Jean-Claude Mahé, Angéline Martel et Paul Dubé, dans la célèbre cause lancée dès 1983.

Cette décision marque un jalon dans le développement des communautés francophones en clarifiant la portée des droits de la minorité linguistique à disposer d’écoles et à gérer ces établissements.

À la suite de ce jugement dans une affaire albertaine, la gestion scolaire francophone s’établira petit à petit dans les divers territoires et provinces. D’autres jugements en Cour suprême suivront, comme le Renvoi manitobain (1993), qui accordera aux francophones le droit à la gestion scolaire au Manitoba (Renvoi relatif à la Loi sur les écoles publiques (Man.), _1993_ 1 R.C.S. 839). »
Extrait du site Web https://www.clo-ocol.gc.ca/fr/chronologie-evenements/jugement-cour-supreme-du-canada-laffaire-mahe-reconnait-aux-parents.

Au-delà des obligations de la province par rapport à l’éducation de langue minoritaire, le présent gouvernement s’est engagé, dans sa Loi sur l’appui à l’épanouissement de la francophonie manitobaine, à favoriser l’avancement de la francophonie au Manitoba.

Cette même loi réaffirme la gestion scolaire pour les francophones du Manitoba :
« L'article 79 de la Loi sur les écoles publiques reconnait le français et l'anglais à titre de langues d'enseignement dans les écoles publiques. La partie I.1 de cette même loi institue une division scolaire de langue française qui est chargée de la gouvernance des écoles francophones. » 1re session, 41e législature (2016).

Il va sans dire qu’il demeure donc fondamental de conserver le droit à la gestion scolaire et de continuer à appuyer la croissance des effectifs de la DSFM. La responsabilité de la DSFM dépasse largement l’instruction en français – la DSFM joue un rôle essentiel pour le maintien et l’épanouissement de la culture francophone du Manitoba. Ce double mandat éducatif et culturel définit bien la particularité de la DSFM et de son rôle pour la communauté francophone minoritaire.

Voici comment la Table nationale sur l’éducation définie rôle particulier des écoles en milieu minoritaire :
« Selon Lapointe (Modèle hypothétique de leadership éducationnel en milieux linguistiques minoritaires, 2002), le leadership de l’école de langue française en situation minoritaire doit tout d’abord s’appuyer sur une connaissance et une compréhension approfondies des concepts liés au mandat de l’école de langue française et aux enjeux des communautés francophones et acadiennes en situation minoritaire. Celles et ceux qui exercent ce leadership comprennent le contexte législatif qui confère à l’école de langue française son double mandat. Elles et ils saisissent l’importance de l’article 23 de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés. Les leaders comprennent ainsi que le rôle de l’école de langue française est d’offrir une éducation de qualité dans un contexte où la loi s’applique avec des dispositions de réparation aux injustices du passé. Conscientes et conscients que l’école de langue française est engagée dans la communauté francophone et qu’elle contribue au maintien et à l’épanouissement de sa langue et de sa culture, les leaders connaissent les composantes de cette culture. Elles et ils s’intéressent aux référents culturels du passé et du présent qui constituent la mémoire collective de la communauté francophone, comprennent les enjeux linguistiques et culturels, les réalités sociopolitiques ainsi que les défis auxquels la communauté francophone est confrontée. Enfin, elles et ils connaissent les ressources et les stratégies disponibles pour enseigner, protéger et valoriser la langue française ainsi que pour explorer et promouvoir la culture francophone considérée comme une richesse du patrimoine national et mondial. » École communautaire citoyenne : Document de fondement (2011)

(2) Continuum d’éducation

Par ailleurs, l’autre recommandation sur lequel la SFM espère pouvoir mettre l’accent est par rapport à un plan provincial coordonné pour la prestation des services d’éducation en français pour tout le continuum d’éducation : du berceau jusqu’à la berçante. Tout comme avec la création de la Régie des services de santé partagés du Manitoba, une telle planification favorise une utilisation optimale des ressources à l’échelle de la province. Le but ultime étant d’améliorer l’accès à l’éducation en français ainsi que la qualité de l’éducation. Voici comment la Province du Manitoba justifie la création d'un processus de planification provinciale en santé, et la création de l’organisme Soins commun :

« Un plan provincial coordonné de services cliniques et préventifs favorise une meilleure prestation des soins et une utilisation optimale des ressources, y compris les ressources humaines, financières et en capital, à l’échelle de la province. Une meilleure planification des services signifie un accès amélioré à des services de soins de santé de qualité, uniformes et fiables, partout dans la province. » Extrait du site Web https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/hst/faq.fr.html.

L’objectif est de positionner la francophonie manitobaine au cœur de la planification de l’éducation en français au Manitoba, du préscolaire jusqu’à l’éducation permanente, en passant par le système scolaire (FL1 et FL2) et les institutions postsecondaires. Tout comme la Régie des services de santé partagés du Manitoba, nous croyons que cette structure serait innovatrice et permettrait de réunir tous les acteurs qui touchent de près et de loin à l’éducation en français au Manitoba.

Comme l’indiquait à l’époque le ministre Goertzen par rapport aux services de santé, il n’est ni efficace ni efficient que les différents intervenants planifient de manière relativement isolée les uns des autres. C’est pourquoi une nouvelle approche qui implique directement tout le continuum en éducation en français a le potentiel de permettre l’offre de meilleurs services aux Manitobains tout en maximisant l’utilisation des ressources.

Voici la proposition originale des partenaires pour l’éducation en français :
« Proposition #2 Que soit créée une nouvelle structure administrative regroupant le continuum en éducation de langue française. Cette structure administrative relèverait du ministère de l’Éducation et serait dirigée par un sous-ministre adjoint francophone. À noter que ce poste serait un poste « désigné bilingue » nonobstant les partis politiques au pouvoir, ceci dans l‘esprit de la loi sur l’épanouissement de la francophonie.

Bien que nous croyons que cette structure serait innovatrice et permettrait de réunir tous les acteurs qui touchent de près et de loin à l’éducation, ceci pourrait débuter comme projet pilote. À cet égard un tel projet, selon nous, permettrait une cohérence entre services offerts, sans compter que le ministère de l’Éducation ferait figure de leader au Canada et que ce projet pourrait aisément être un modèle pour le reste du Canada.

Afin de bien arrimer les services, cette structure administrative serait dirigée par le sous-ministre adjoint responsable de l’éducation en français et réunirait les acteurs* suivants :

Présidence des Éducatrices et Éducateurs francophones du Manitoba
Direction générale de la Fédération des Parents du Manitoba
Direction générale de l’Université Saint-Boniface
Direction générale de la Division scolaire franco-manitobaine
Direction générale de Pluri-Elles
Direction générale du Conseil jeunesse provincia

Ce groupe de travail consultatif serait responsable du plan éducatif français de la province et se réunirait 3 fois par année.

Cette super structure représenterait, à notre avis, un réel continuum en éducation. Un continuum qui tire sa force du fait que les acteurs doivent travailler ensemble pour assurer un arrimage. Deux options quant à l’investissement : le gouvernement réitère son appui à l’éducation en français et remet le poste de sous-ministre adjoint tel que connu avant octobre 2017 ; ou bien, afin de minimiser les couts, le poste de sous-ministre adjoint francophone pourrait être la résultante d’un transfert d’un poste existant de directeur de service au BEF au poste de sous-ministre adjoint.

* à noter qu’en cas de thématique complémentaire, des invités pourraient se joindre à se groupe. »
Rapport des partenaires pour l’éducation en français (2018)

L’éducation en français au Manitoba ajoute à la richesse de notre province. C'est pourquoi la SFM est heureuse de contribuer à cet exercice de consultation. Nous remercions la Commission sur l’éducation de la maternelle à la 12ᵉ années du Manitoba pour l'attention qu'elle aura portée à notre mémoire et nous serrons heureux d'approfondir nos recommandations lors d'une audience publique le cas échéant.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: (1) Droit à l’éducation – minorité francophone du Manitoba

Comme vous le savez bien, l’article 23 de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés accorde le droit à l’éducation à la minorité francophone du Manitoba. Au-delà d’une simple obligation, la Cour supreme du Canada affirme l’en 1990 dans la cause Mahé c. Alberta, que l’objet de cet article est de « maintenir les deux langues officielles du Canada ainsi que les cultures qu’elles représentent et à favoriser l’épanouissement de chacune de ces langues ». De plus, la Cour confirme dans son jugement, que l’article 23 a un « caractère réparateur » cherchant à empêcher l’assimilation des minorités linguistiques.

Le présent gouvernement s’est engagé, dans sa Loi sur l’appui à l’épanouissement de la francophonie manitobaine, à favoriser l’avancement de la francophonie au Manitoba. Il va sans dire qu’il demeure donc fondamental de conserver le droit à la gestion scolaire et de continuer à appuyer la croissance des effectifs de la DSFM. La responsabilité de la DSFM dépasse largement l’instruction en français – la DSFM joue un rôle essentiel pour le maintien et l’épanouissement de la culture francophone du Manitoba. Ce double mandat éducatif et culturel définit bien la particularité de la DSFM et de son rôle pour la communauté francophone minoritaire.

Student Learning: N/A

Teaching: N/A

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: (2) Continuum d’éducation

Par ailleurs, l’autre recommandation sur lequel la SFM espère pouvoir mettre l’accent est par rapport à un plan provincial coordonné pour la prestation des services d’éducation en français pour tout le continuum d’éducation : du berceau jusqu’à la berçante. Tout comme avec la création de la Régie des services de santé partagés du Manitoba, une telle planification favorise une utilisation optimale des ressources, y compris les ressources humaines, financières et en capital, à l’échelle de la province. Le but ultime étant d’améliorer l’accès à l’éducation en français ainsi que la qualité de l’éducation.

L’objectif est de positionner la francophonie manitobaine au cœur de la planification de l’éducation en français au Manitoba, du préscolaire jusqu’à l’éducation permanente, en passant par le système scolaire (FL1 et FL2) et les institutions postsecondaires. Tout comme la Régie des services de santé partagés du Manitoba, nous croyons que cette structure serait innovatrice et permettrait de réunir tous les acteurs qui touchent de près et de loin à l’éducation en français au Manitoba.

Funding: N/A

Brief 55

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Christian Michalik

Organization: Louis Riel School Division

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: When bold questions are posed, one should expect similarly bold answers. While the ideas brought forward in our brief are daring, they are also deeply rooted in our collective desire to see all learners in Manitoba thrive and an equitable and inclusive public education system flourish. LRSD challenged itself to look at everything it’s done in the division, everything it is presently doing and what it humbly sees as ideas that may serve as a reimagining of a progressive, more holistic public education system for all learners in Manitoba—no small task. LRSD hopes the commission recommends that any reform of public education in Manitoba will continue to value and leverage local innovations and investments.

A central idea in LRSD is to include the Circle of Courage framework as a holistic and Indigenous inspired approach to learning. Here are some of the bold innovations and investments LRSD sees as essential elements of a comprehensive cradle-to-career approach to levelling and raising the achievement bar in our province:

  1. A whole-learner approach to develop caring, capable and confident adults who will contribute to inclusive and equitable prosperity for all Manitobans
  2. Implement the education-specific calls-to-action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  3. A systemic approach to health, well-being and well-becoming
  4. Early years education structures and play-based pedagogies
  5. Project-based and career-focused middle and high school pedagogies
  6. A culture of accountability that genuinely increases our collective capacities from a strength-based perspective that is built on an ethos of trust and collaboration
  7. An evidence-informed collaborative inquiry approach to instructional improvement decisions that leverages and enhances the rich data from the Provincial Manitoba Report Card
  8. Researched-informed enhancements to existing governance and administrative structures
  9. The power of incrementalism to finance and implement lasting legacies of innovations
  10. Public education as an integral part of a systemic poverty eradication strategy

LRSD is excited about this opportunity to share our research, discoveries and suggestions with the commission as well as the chance to engage in a conversation with our fellow Manitobans about the future of education in our province.

LRSD suggests three key pillars—Learning and Well-becoming, Democracy, and Sustainability— should guide the review of a system as complex and multi-layered as our public education system.

LRSD’s vision, mission and values statements propose the goals and purpose of education are to nurture a community of learning and well-becoming that reflects the diverse aptitudes, abilities, identities and experiences in our community. A similar position is reflected in Manitoba Education and Training’s (MET) current Mandate, Mission, Vision and Priority Areas.

The long-term vision for public education should be built using a framework that leverages an ongoing and dynamic community dialogue about the values-based and process-focused targets for all learners. This will support the future prosperity of our graduates as well as all Manitobans.

Along with most Manitobans and the government, LRSD shares a common desire to reimagine learning and well-becoming as a journey that is cradle-to-career. The division sees this whole-learner approach as a way to develop caring, capable and confident adults who will contribute to Manitoba’s future prosperity by collaborating as democratic citizens to solve an impending climate catastrophe, reduce the growing wealth gap, and champion a more democratic and just world.

On the matter of impending climate catastrophe as noted above, our youngest learners are pleading with us to confront this reality and to make exploring solutions part of their educational journey. They are also imploring us to help them discuss and discover solutions to the growing wealth gap and ways to champion a more democratic and just world. LRSD considers all of these requests as essential components of a whole-learner and responsive curriculum designed for the 21st century. Creating a learning culture that values relevance as much as rigour will help us move away from an old and unsustainable “industrial model” of education.

When thinking of championing a more democratic and just world, LRSD is amazed by our learners’ continual efforts to create school cultures that respect the spectrum of sexuality and gender in our community. Our governance and pedagogical obligations need to support that journey.

LRSD is also inspired by countless examples of holistic play-based and project-based learning that the division believes has the potential to be scaled, system-wide.

In this modern world, a holistic, learner-centred, learning-focused, responsive, relevant and engaging education system that is connected to the real-world needs to become the new “model.”

Many of us in LRSD share Ken Robinson’s concern “that while education systems around the world are being reformed, many of these reforms are being driven by political and commercial interests that misunderstand how real people learn and how great schools actually work.” LRSD hopes one of the outcomes of the commission’s work will be to value “a more holistic approach that nurtures the diverse talents of all our children” advocated by Robinson and countless other educational thinkers.

While MET’s current Mandate, Mission, Vision and Priority Areas are powerful positioning statements that echo Robinson’s message, LRSD suggests few Manitobans know or understand MET’s Vision and Mission. Even fewer understand the multi-year strategic plan built to achieve these priorities and goals.

Governments (provincial and locally elected boards) need to collaborate more regularly and extensively with the communities of schools they serve about the strategic priorities and expected goals for our public education system. Beyond the commission’s recommendations, there is a need to establish and refine a long-term, coordinated and collaborative approach to visioning, planning, monitoring and reporting.

A coordinated multi-year strategic planning process between government, school divisions, and schools could create a structure based on these collaborative and reciprocal relationships that help achieve coherence and alignment while ensuring agility and innovation.

As the government of Manitoba’s Vision for public education boldly proclaims: every learner will complete a high school education with a profound sense of accomplishment, hope and optimism (having prepared them for lifelong learning and citizenship in a democratic, socially just and sustainable society).

Education is a systematic and planned process designed to nurture the development of human potential in all learners. By cultivating the harmonious growth of the physical, intellectual, social, emotional and moral qualities inherent in all learners, they can thrive as life-long learners who contribute to flourishing communities.

LRSD believes that to become a resilient, caring, capable, confident and lifelong learner who can contribute to a democratic, inclusive, and sustainable world, public education should embrace a “whole learner” or holistic approach as advocated by countless educational thinkers. Contemporary research proposes using Indigenous ways of understanding to frame a holistic educational journey. When looking at school divisions nationally and internationally, LRSD is inspired to continuously make its system more holistic (or, comprehensive).

The Mental Health Commission of Canada released a 2010 report called Making the Case for Investing in Mental Health in Canada. The report showed the prevalence of mental illness was 23.4 per cent in individuals aged nine to 19. Acknowledging these alarming statistics and the impact it is having in schools and communities is critical.

As the Manitoba government looks for ways to improve student outcomes, the research suggests an important investment in a systemic mental health approach for all Manitoba schools is an essential element to levelling and raising the achievement bar in our province. Furthermore, there is very strong evidence that investments in the well-being and well-becoming of children and youth yield a significant financial return over time, and that strategies designed to prevent problems are far less expensive to implement than remedial responses later (OECD, 2006).

According to the latest reporting from Statistics Canada (2017), the gap between children and adults living in low‑income households was widest in Manitoba (21.9 per cent of children, compared with 13.5 per cent of adults). To address Manitoba’s status as having one of the highest child poverty rates in the country and to mitigate the impact of poverty on our learners, LRSD makes many important local investments.

LRSD implores the commission to study and recommend ways the public education system can be a partner in a more community-based, system-wide plan of action for poverty eradication (and in the interim mitigation).

The commission’s Public Consultation Discussion Paper states: “Perhaps the most important educational challenge Manitoba is facing today is the persistent gap in achievement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. The historical, moral and economic imperatives to close this gap is critical. It is essential that these be addressed.” LRSD agrees.

Implementing the education-specific calls-to-action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is paramount. LRSD has made significant local investments to address these calls-to-action, specifically #62 and #63, that positively impact the success of our Indigenous students.

While LRSD is encouraged by the improving educational success of our Indigenous students, removing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners remains an ongoing priority.

Teacher professionalism, expertise, curiosity, creativity, scholarship, and collaboration needs to be valued and nurtured—it is essential to any improvement effort.

Manitobans need to avoid rhetoric that describes the journey of trying to understand and improve the public-school system using international, national and provincial test results as a high-stakes contest. Pitting countries, provinces, school divisions, schools and individual learners against each other in a race of winners and losers is not a positive way to encourage future success.

LRSD hopes the commission will consider studying structures that focus on evidence-informed collaborative inquiry cycles to enhance our collective data literacy and connect job-embedded professional learning with improved student learning.

There needs to be a systemic, sustained, data-informed and teacher-led collaborative inquiry initiative aimed at improving student learning. This system should leverage the Provincial Manitoba Report Card and provide a virtuous cycle of improved teacher and student learning that, over time, provides the only way to improve the validity and reliability of the most important professional judgements made about a learner’s journey—their grades on report cards.

If the amalgamation is a potential recommendation by the commission, there is no evidence that amalgamation improves academic performance. In fact, small school districts outperform large school districts, controlling for socio-economic factors (Cox, 2010; Howley, 1989; Taylor, 2011).

In the context of LRSD, the importance of a community’s local autonomy expresses itself most powerfully when we consider French Immersion (FI) programming.

The LRSD has a rich history of FI programming that goes back to the start of FI in Manitoba in the early ’70s. Our FI journey serves as an illustrative example of educators and parents in a community working in collaboration with locally elected school boards to develop a pedagogical culture connected to a community’s shared local culture, history and geography.

This collaborative culture building continues in LRSD today as evidenced by an FI program that is as strong as ever. In fact, 35 per cent of LRSD’s enrolment is in FI and it’s growing; this is significantly higher than the 13 per cent that is registered across the province; in LRSD, nearly 50 per cent of kindergarten and Grade 1 enrolment is in FI; this is significantly higher than the 19 per cent average registration rate in the province.

The success of the FI program in LRSD strengthens the vitality of Manitoba’s minority language community and contributes significantly to the realization of the goals of The Francophone Community Enhancement and Support Act (Government of Manitoba, 2016).

There are many alternatives to school division amalgamation that allow school boards to preserve their autonomy while maximizing efficiency and delivery of quality services.

Systemic and sustainable improvement efforts require societal investments informed by a process of evidence-based decision making that is managed by the school and system-level leadership, governed by locally elected trustees and a provincial government accountable to the communities they serve.

To flourish, a public education system needs broad community support. This is achieved by nurturing a relationship with families and neighbourhoods. It’s a whole community's responsibility to effectively and equitably respond to our learners’ needs and aspirations.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: The long-term vision for public education needs to be built on a framework that leverages an ongoing and dynamic community dialogue about the values-based and process-focused targets for all learners. This will support the future prosperity of our graduates as well as all Manitobans.

Creating a learning culture that values relevance as much as rigour will help us move away from an old and unsustainable “industrial model” of education. In 2019, a holistic, learner-centred, learning-focused, responsive, relevant and engaging education system that is connected to the real-world needs to become the new “model.”

A coordinated multi-year strategic planning process between government, school divisions, schools, and classrooms that is collaborative and reciprocal would create a more coherent, aligned, agile and innovative structure. LRSD is implementing a multi-year strategic planning process inspired by the systemic planning process in Ontario’s public education system. The division suggests the commission consider adapting and developing a similar collaborative and coordinated systemic framework for multi-year strategic planning in Manitoba.

A vision of education that nurtures a journey from cradle to career for every learner in Manitoba, obligates the public education system to invest in

early-years programming by implementing universal Full-Day Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten (such as other high-performing jurisdictions in Canada and abroad)

Family Centres in all elementary schools that connect families with their neighbourhood school to create a community learning hub that provides welcoming, inclusive, play-based learning environments and programs for toddlers and their parents to thrive and develop strong beginnings for school holistic approaches that include Indigenous perspectives such as the Circle of Courage framework. There are countless examples across Manitoba schools, including a systemic example in LRSD, that when applied with care and rigour, an Indigenous inspired holistic approach to learning can make the structures and norms of colonialism become less obtrusive for all learners a learning culture that moves strategically from an early and middle years play-based interdisciplinary journey to collaborative models of multi-disciplinary project-based learning in high schools. In LRSD, high school models include Propel, a project-based learning incubator; the Career Internship Program, a big-picture style school with internships and interdisciplinary projects for all styles of learners; Career Cohorts in all high schools that allow students to design their own courses based on career interests, skills interests and personal experiences using a unique tool called the LEAN Career Design Canvas.

As the Manitoba government looks for ways to improve student outcomes, the research suggests an important investment in a systemic mental health approach for all provincial schools is an essential element to levelling and raising the achievement bar in our province.

The commission should study and recommend ways the public education system can be a partner in a more community-based, system-wide plan of action for poverty eradication (and in the interim mitigation).

Student Learning: For children and youth to flourish, it is important to consider the relationships between mental and physical health, well-being, safety and student learning. When learners feel they’re part of a school community, they will actively engage in academic and non-academic activities (OECD, 2017).

Manitoba teachers have embraced the goal of intellectual achievement in the writing of the newest French and English language curricula. With Manitoba classrooms being “rich in diversity, where learners and teachers share multiple ways of knowing and diverse backgrounds and identities,” (MET, 2019) the unique ways of processing language and literacy need to be honoured, with a strong sense of belonging being essential to positive learning communities where our learners can thrive. MET (2019) asserts that “educators are called upon to imagine rich, generous, and inclusive learning spaces and experiences in which all learners engage deeply and meaningfully.” The Manitoba Language Arts curricula offer a progressive, nimble, competencies-focused 21st century model for future curricula development in the province.

The division has also promoted the most recent cognitive science discoveries and suggests the commission explore the importance of integrating the latest research in cognitive science as part of an explicit expectation in all curricula.

Implementing the education-specific calls-to-action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is paramount. LRSD has made significant local investments to address these calls-to-action, specifically #62 and #63, that positively impact the success of LRSD Indigenous learners and is an important facet the commission should consider when formulating recommendations to government.

Supported by the expertise and leadership of its Indigenous Education team, LRSD has implemented a variety of strategies to embed Indigenous pedagogies in our systemic educational practices.

All 40 LRSD schools have implemented the Circle of Courage as a whole-learner framework and as a reference tool in the strength-based class profile process. The Circle of Courage comprises four quadrants: Belonging, Mastery, Independence, and Generosity. These are based on the work of Stanley Coopersmith and speak to a holistic approach of educating the whole child. All learners must have their needs met in each of the quadrants. If their needs are not being met, it is up to educators, families and the community to help them complete their circle by fostering opportunities to improve absent, incomplete or distorted elements within each of the quadrants.

System-wide instruction and integration of Indigenous themes into language arts, social studies, math and science frames learning for all Grade 4 students in LRSD.

Supported by a Treaty Education Support Teacher, LRSD is implementing Treaty Education in all 40 schools.

Indigenous Learner Communities (Echo) in our high schools that are accessible to all students. Recently, LRSD has joined the Medical Careers Exploration Program to offer our Indigenous students experiential strength-based educational/mentorship in the healthcare system.

Developing an Early Years Ojibwe language program for all learners in LRSD. Ojibwe is being taught in Kindergarten and Grade 1 classrooms and the Louis Riel School Board is looking at a systemic implementation plan for K-3 as part of our multi-year strategic plan for 2019-2023.

Teaching: When considering recommendations for government, the commission may find inspiration in the following approaches to teaching in LRSD.

Nurturing a culture of relational trust and shared leadership creates the conditions for effective professional learning.

Teacher professionalism, expertise, curiosity, creativity, scholarship, and collaboration needs to be valued and nurtured—it is essential to any improvement effort.

Building collective teacher capacity by understanding and supporting teachers’ professional learning needs leads to a dedicated, highly competent teaching force—teachers in numbers, working together for the continuous betterment of the public education system. Asking teachers to implement a systemic reform initiative requires leaders at all levels learning alongside them and supporting the process.

In LRSD, experiential job-embedded professional learning models such as the Personalized Professional Learning initiative and The Writing Project have been effective ways to strengthen teacher capacity in effectively differentiating instruction and feedback, planning intentional learning targets and co-constructing success criteria. LRSD teachers are embedding these powerful pedagogies into practice.

The LRSD Senior Leadership Team (SLT) builds and nurtures collective leadership capacity. The SLT asks the question: “What do school leaders need to learn to support what teachers need to learn?” In turn, school leaders ask: “What do teachers need to learn to support what learners need to learn?”

Instructional leadership is improving teacher and leader effectiveness in LRSD. School leaders and LRSD coordinators work alongside teachers as an instructional leader to accomplish collective goals related to student learning. By strengthening collegial relationships, school leaders in LRSD are creating cultures of collaborative inquiry to improve student learning.

Using Leithwood’s system-level and school-level leadership frameworks, LRSD leaders have been reflecting on their personal leadership practices. Leaders have been identifying personal areas of strength, as well as areas for growth to help teachers strive toward continuous improvement by actively engaging with The Learning Conversations Protocol: An Intentional Interruption Strategy for Enhanced Collaborative Learning. Katz and Dack (2013) describe this protocol as a strategy designed to transform “great discussions” through the process of analysis, debate, and challenge to increase professional learning to a deeper and more successful level.

Inspired by Ontario, other provinces and national ministries of Education, LRSD advocates that the commission considers developing system-level and school-level leadership frameworks to guide a systemic and sustained leadership collaborative inquiry cycle of learning in Manitoba schools.

The commission may want to consider a Manitoba Learning and Well-Becoming Secretariat modelled on Ontario’s Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat to support leadership and instructional effectiveness in Manitoba schools. Since 2010, LRSD has referenced the professional learning materials published by Ontario’s Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat to guide our literacy and numeracy work.

Accountability for Student Learning: LRSD has long advocated for an evidence-informed approach to instructional improvement decisions. The division has developed professional learning structures that leverage the rich data from the LRSD and more recently from the Provincial Manitoba Report Card to focus on evidence-informed collaborative inquiry cycles that can connect job-embedded professional learning with improved student learning (i.e. the Collaborative Learning Cycle).

A learner-centred approach to classroom structure and management ensures learner feedback is specific, personalized and relevant, achieving the impactful differentiation as described by John Hattie (2012), beginning with teachers knowing, for each learner, where they are in relation to the success criteria. Frey, Fisher and Hattie (2018) argue that when learners have a clear understanding of the learning intentions and success criteria, they become assessment capable learners. Additionally, Frey, Fisher and Hattie (2018) encourage learner-centred assessment practices and designing learning opportunities where learners use “goals and results to fuel their own learning” (Frey, Fisher and Hattie, 2018, p.46).

Learning structures that empower learners to self-monitor and adjust their pace and path, thereby becoming their own teachers, are essential in achieving academic excellence and the life-long learning necessary to thrive (Almarode, Fisher, Thunder, Hattie and Frey, 2019).

Rather than repeating standardized high-stake test approaches to accountability that fail to improve teaching and learning, MET, in collaboration with school divisions should develop a cycle of multi-year norming studies for literacy and numeracy in early, middle and high school to: frame collaborative teacher inquiry cycles to improve teaching and learning; enhance teacher assessment, evaluation and reporting expertise.

In the 2013-14 school year, students in Grade 2 in the English program and Grades 2 and 3 in the French Immersion (FI) program were assessed in several key literacy areas to develop a set of norms to enhance our collective understanding of learning outcomes in Early Literacy. The following assessments were used to develop the norms and administered three times throughout the year: Grade 2 English: Instructional reading level (Fountas and Pinnell), BURT Word Test, writing vocabulary from Marie Clay Observation Survey; Grade 2 FI: Instructional reading level (GB or Fountas and Pinnell), all five Marie Clay Observation Survey tasks, test du sons; Grade 3 FI: Instructional reading level (GB or Fountas and Pinnell), test du sons, writing vocabulary from Marie Clay Observation Survey. This norming study has subsequently been used to guide cycles of inquiry to inform improvements in teacher and student learning as evidenced by the LRSD Early Years Literacy Assessment Guides in both English and French that frame a systemic approach to literacy assessment in the Early Years.

There needs to be a systemic, sustained, data-informed and teacher-led collaborative inquiry initiative aimed at improving student learning. This system should leverage the Provincial Manitoba Report Card and provide a virtuous cycle of improved teacher and student learning that, over time, provides the only way to improve the validity and reliability of the most important professional judgements made about a learner’s journey—their grades on report cards and post-secondary transcripts.

Governance: The LRSD would argue the existing system with its division of powers between the provincial government and school boards has served Manitobans well and continues to do so today. However, governance structures can always be improved.

LRSD has implemented a multi-year strategic planning process inspired by the systemic planning process in Ontario school districts. The division suggests the commission consider adapting and developing a similar collaborative and coordinated systemic framework for multi-year strategic planning in Manitoba.

In a study commissioned by Ontario’s Institute for Education Leadership and Council of Ontario Directors of Education, Dr. Ken Leithwood “summarizes evidence about the characteristics of school systems, boards or districts that are successful at improving the learning of their students.”

Using Leithwood’s work as a reference, LRSD suggests the commission consider recommending the development of a made-in-Manitoba framework that makes explicit the leadership and governance obligations in Manitoba’s public education system. This framework would need to:

Establish broadly shared mission, vision and goals founded on ambitious images of the educated person Provide coherent instructional guidance;

Build division and school staffs' capacities and commitments to seek out and use multiple sources of evidence to inform decisions

Create learning-oriented organizational improvement processes

Provide job-embedded professional development

Align budgets, personnel policies/procedures and uses of time with district mission, vision and goals

Use a comprehensive performance management system for school and district leadership development

Advocate for and support a policy-governance approach to school board practice

Nurture productive working relationships with staff and stakeholders.

As the commission ponders the type of governance structures needed to create a coordinated and relevant education system, it must also consider what current research reveals about the effects of past school district consolidation:

Only the amalgamation of the smallest school districts (500 to 1,000 students) yields economies of scale (Schiltz and De Witte, 2017).

The amalgamation of larger school districts generates diseconomies of scale which are difficult to predict (Berliner, 1990; Canadian Teachers’ Federation, 1994; Schiltz and De Witte, 2017).

The last round of school division amalgamations in Manitoba resulted in sizeable cost increases (FCPP, 2005).

Amalgamation affects communities negatively through unemployment, the closure of businesses, lower property values, increased travel time, and reduced parent engagement in schools (Berliner, 1990; Wionzek, 1995; Duncombe and Yinger, 2010).

There is no evidence that amalgamation improves academic performance. In fact, small school districts outperform large school districts, controlling for socio-economic factors (Cox, 2010; Howley, 1989; Taylor, 2011).

There are many alternatives to school division amalgamation that allow school boards to preserve their autonomy while maximizing efficiency and delivery of quality services. Local school boards connect with the communities they serve and are responsive to their needs. Amalgamation reduces democratic representation. Amalgamation is costly in terms of the time, effort, and tax dollars it consumes.

Funding: LRSD is engaged with community and government agencies to support education equity and fairness for all learners through partnerships that address the factors that impact student success. LRSD believes in the importance of local autonomy to respond to the diversity of our local communities, which advances equity and fairness through specific local investments, partnerships, and shared responsibilities.

The commission should review the current level of funding that supports the growing numbers of students with special needs.

The commission should review the current level of funding that supports Manitoba’s growing newcomer community. Our newcomer students’ English language proficiency, school experiences, pathways of arrival to Canada, and family backgrounds differ, and our English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Newcomer programming strives to respond to these differing needs and circumstances.

The commission should review the current level of funding that supports our obligations to implement the education-specific calls-to-action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The commission should consider examining a funding model where the public education system is an integral part of a systemic poverty eradication strategy.

Access to reliable technology, hardware, software and network infrastructure is paramount for successful differentiation and personalization that is necessary to achieve equity for Manitoba learners. Some rural and northern Manitoba schools continue to be seriously underserved. LRSD’s Assistive Technology project is showing promise.

Classrooms and schools are considered the “third teacher” in education (parents are a child’s first teacher) and LRSD has been making incremental investments to enhance all classrooms in LRSD (some are only two years old; others are 112). Ageing infrastructure and a growing infrastructure deficit must be addressed as part of a review of public education in Manitoba.

The “maker movement” has inspired the creation of maker spaces in many LRSD schools. Learning, at its best, is about creativity and the act of creating. The commission should develop a multi-decade strategy to modernize learning spaces in Manitoban schools.

The commission should study an adequate and more transparent and coordinated multi-year (multi-decade) school infrastructure planning process.

In the context of the looming climate calamity, the greening of public-school and transportation infrastructure is a recommendation the commission must study and bring forward to government.

In 2017-18, LRSD reviewed our Safe Routes to School planning and developed a Safe Routes to School action plan as part of a broader initiative to promote active transportation in LRSD. LRSD suggests the commission study the need for a comprehensive review of safe and active transportation routes to schools in Manitoba.

The commission should study the advisability and practicality of a multi-year budgeting process.

Local budgeting scenarios to support the incremental implementation of universal Full-Day Kindergarten and other investments are explored in our comprehensive written submission to the commission.

Brief 56

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Sophronia Earnest

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning

Brief: My recommendation is for Manitoba Education to look at the science behind Mental Health to understand precisely what causes the breakdown of our health. Once we understand the root cause behind the mental breakdown, we can appreciate the solutions that are available.

I recommend the commission to look at the research completed by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist, who has studied and researched the Mind-Brain connection. In her article called “The current mental-health care system is a mess!”, Dr. Leaf has highlighted the fact that our current health system does not have enough understanding of what exactly mental health, mental illness or mental well being is. She refers to Joanna Moncrieff , a psychiatrist and Mental Health advocate, and different research studies completed in different parts of the world, which suggest that there are far more effective and long-term solutions to overcoming mental health issues than medication and psychiatric labels.

Research shows that people diagnosed with a severe mental illness can, in fact, experience long-term recovery without the use of psychiatric drugs. As well, addicts can overcome addiction by themselves. The conclusion is that most people can get over addiction through their choice! This implies that mental illness is mind-based, as a result of circumstances of life, is temporary, and can be overcome (as opposed to the perception that it is “physically-based”, and permanent).

Dr. Leaf’s article states that the “disease model” of mental health is derived from the “medical model” of illness. Allopathic doctors are trained to diagnose disease, which is not helpful in mental health. The mental health industry is influenced by drug companies, which manipulate scientific data to construct disease that will be cured by their drugs. The goal for them is to increase their profits, while controlling “problematic social behaviour” of clients suffering from mental health issues. The truth is that these drugs mask symptoms and produce altered mental states. In fact, these drugs create chemical imbalances in the brain.

Dr. Leaf shares that there is a serious push-back against the “disease model” of mental health, even in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. Dr. Peter Kinderman , a professor at Liverpool University (UK), and a clinical psychologist, has done one of the largest research study on mental health to date, called “BBC Stress Test” in 2011. The results of the study show that the biggest predictor of mental health problems is “rumination” – the tendency to dwell on negative events for too long. It has to do with our thinking. Therefore, the treatment must, also lie in thinking (positively), and not medication. Kinderman’s findings are backed-up a group of prominent British psychiatrists, led by Pat Bracken , who published an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry arguing that “psychiatry needs to move beyond the dominance of the current, technological paradigm”.

Dr. Leaf has followed a similar research path. She has demonstrated using her research that mental disorders are primarily based in the mind. She has researched the effectiveness of “thought-based” mind action techniques in overcoming the negative effects of disease labels such as dementias, autism, depression, and learning disabilities. In other words, our mind is designed to change and control our brain physiologically. Our brain does not control us; we control our brain through our thinking and choosing. This has a huge implication on the finding, which shows that 75-98% of current mental, physical and behavioral issues come from our thought life . According to Dr. Leaf:
a) Our choices are real. We are free to make choices about how we focus our attention. But this affects how the chemicals, proteins and wiring of our brain change and function .
b) Research shows that the DNA changes shape in response to our thoughts. This is the basic concept of “Epigenetics”, known as the power of our mind to change the brain.

According to the “LiveScience” website: Epigenetics literally means "above" or "on top of" genetics. It refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes "on" or "off." These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells "read" genes .

According to Discover Magazine: "Before, genes predetermined outcomes. Now everything we do—everything we eat or smoke—can affect our gene expression and that of future generations. Epigenetics introduces the concept of free will into our idea of genetics."

Dr. Leaf explains that the science of epigenetics is a tangible, scientific proof of how important our choices are. Our thinking and subsequent choices become the signal switches for our genes. Genes are inactive until switched on by a signal. Genes have potential but must be activated to release that potential. They must be unzipped. The bottom line is that signals change our brain and body. Toxic thinking impacts our brains (and body) in a negative way. While we do not have control on the circumstances of our life, but we can control our reactions. Reaction is the key! So, if we can control our reactions (thought life), we can improve our mental, and physical health. In an essence, by controlling the direction of our mind, we can control the direction of our life!

Solution for building Mental Health: We looked at the cause of the Mental Health breakdown above. In order to help us with our thought life, Dr. Leaf has researched, developed, and tested a theory, that explains the science of thought – how we think and the effect of our thoughts on our brain, body and mind. She has developed the “Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process” from over three decades of study, clinical practice and research. The 5-Step Learning Process works on the principles that our brains can change, if we choose to develop healthy (positive), focused thinking and learning habits, and that it is never too late to heal, and change the brain with our mind.

The 5-Step Learning program trains us to choose to have a controlled thought life through a state of deep, intellectual, introspective self-reflection daily for 21 days. Research shows that deep-thinking exercises repeated daily over a period of 21 days help create lifelong change . Twenty-one days is just the minimum time needed to build the neural network.

In an essence, this process helps to build up a new healthy memory, and nurture it by paying more attention to it, while breaking-down a toxic memory! While it is a rigorous process, the key is in establishing a daily routine of taking 10 minutes minimum and go through the 5 steps daily for 21 days. Depending on the toxicity of the thought, the 21-Day cycle may be repeated. It can take anywhere from three to four 21-Day cycles to automatize the new healthy thought pattern and to ensure that the toxic thought does not grow back.

As we control our reactions (thought life), we can improve our mental, and physical health.

There are immense benefits of the “Switch On Your Brain with the 5-Step Leaning Process” in the school system, as it will help students in the following ways:

  • Exactly how to break down toxic thoughts and build healthy replacement thoughts
  • How to control negative stress
  • How to get those negative habits under control
  • How to control our thoughts
  • That we are not a victim of your biology
  • Get a handle on that worry
  • Beat that anxiety
  • Overcome that depression
  • Freedom from chaotic thinking
  • Increase your health
  • Learn that we control our brain, our brain does not control us

Conclusion:
I recommend that we should have a program in place in schools, that uses Dr. Leaf's 5-Step Program to help students enhance their mental health. Having healthy minds will enable them to achieve "a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community", as per the definition of Mental Health according to the World Health Organization.

References:
https://drleaf.com/blog/the-current-mental-health-care-system-is-a-mess/
https://joannamoncrieff.com/about/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/0/24451567
https://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=docandid=33858

Dr. Leaf’s book “Switch On Your Brain”, chapter 1, page 33. Dr. Leaf has provided the following reference: www.stress.org/americas.htm; www. Naturalwellnesscare.com/stress-statistics.html;

Harvard Medical School’s Mind Body Institute, www.massgeneral.org/bhi/research/; www.brianlukeseaward.net/articles/SuperStress-WELCOA-seaward.pdf

American Medical Association, International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization (page 37)

“Switch on Your Brain” – Dr. Leaf, Page 38, chapter 1 summary, point 5

http://discovermagazine.com/2006/nov/cover DNA is not destiny: The New Science of Epigenetics
https://www.livescience.com/37703-epigenetics.html Epigenetics: Definitions and Examples

How and Why the 21-Day Brain Detox Plan Works, Chapter 10, page 147, “Switch on Your Brain” by Dr. Leaf

Recommended Resources:
https://theswitch.app/
https://drleaf.com/
https://drleaf.com/about/toxic-thoughts/
https://drleafconference.com/?fbclid=IwAR1D_bY_X9L-FvsC9vB8d89E6Qrc1EBu4KWjenDub-E-Bid49rKm9iU0pEg
https://drleaf.com/about/toxic-thoughts/

About Dr. Leaf:
Dr. Caroline Leaf is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist with a Masters and PhD in Communication Pathology and a BSc Logopaedics, specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. Since the early 1980s she has researched the mind-brain connection, the nature of mental health and the formation of memory. She was one of the first in her field to study how the brain can change (neuroplasticity) with directed mind input.

During her years in clinical practice and her work with thousands of underprivileged teachers and students in her home country of South Africa, and in the USA, she developed her theory (called the Geodesic Information Processing theory) of how we think, build memory and learn, into tools and processes that have transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), learning disabilities (ADD, ADHD), autism, dementias, and mental ill-health issues. She has helped hundreds of thousands of students and adults learn how to use their mind to detox and grow their brain to succeed in every area of their lives, including school, university and the workplace.

Dr. Leaf teaches at academic, medical and neuroscience conferences, churches and to various audiences around the world. Dr. Leaf is also involved in the global ECHO movement, which trains physicians worldwide on the mind-brain-body connection. She runs the “Integrated Mind Network”, which is a panel of top neurosurgeons, neurologists, MD's, ob./gyn.'s, endocrinologists, MD’s and neuroscientists with whom she consults with, and does research and clinical trials with. One of the Integrated Mind projects that she is currently running through her research foundation, involves clinical trials with people suffering from anxiety and depression using her researched mind techniques. Various scales and qEEG technology are being used in the trials. She is also part of a mental health initiative in Washington DC.

Dr. Leaf’s You-Tubes videos, podcasts, and TV episodes have reached millions globally. She has been featured on Elle, TED, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Something You Should Know, and many other TV, radio, podcast, and print outlets. Her passion is to help people see the power of the mind to change the brain, and to see the link between science and spirituality through controlling their thoughts and emotions, learning how to think and learn, and finding their sense of purpose in life. Her work goes beyond mindfulness and the ‘quick fixes” of the current mental health system and technological age and takes you into the world of hard work, which is the only way to create effective change with lasting effects.

Dr. Leaf shows you that how you understand and use your mind is predictive of how successful you will be.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: Mental Health impacts every area of students' life, including learning and teaching. This is a factor that determines how successful their lives will be after high school graduation.

Student Learning: Overall, training in developing healthy minds will enable students to achieve a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community, as how the World Health Organization defines Mental Health.

Teaching: Our teachers needs to have excellent state of Mental Health, in order to achieve their jobs at an optimal level.

Accountability for Student Learning: The students will have lifelong skills to cope with negative thinking patters, as opposed to be relying on medication to suppress their "problematic social behavior".

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 57

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Gus Wruck

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: MACO SUBMISSION BRIEF
The Manitoba Association of Cottage Owners represents thousands of property, principal residence, and non-principal residence owners across Manitoba. We have a number of serious concerns about the present Manitoba education system, and the school and education property tax funding model.

Governance
We request that the 37 Manitoba school divisions be phased out to 0 within four years. The school board’s administration costs are approaching $200 Million/year (FRAME report 2017-18) and growing. School principals administer each school, and can alternatively report directly to the Manitoba Dept. of Education who sets the provincial education curriculum. Standardize the Manitoba governance of the education curriculum, with local demand options.

New Brunswick reduced their public school divisions from 28 to 14 (1996), and from 14 to 7 (2012) (4 Anglophone, 3 Francophone).

Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver all have 1 public school division. Winnipeg with much smaller population has 6 public school divisions. Why? This creates costly Manitoba artificial education barriers at the school division geographic boundaries (local students may not be able to attend the local school in a different school division), causes higher transportation busing costs (over $23 Million/year for the 6 Winnipeg school divisions alone, and $104 Million/year for all MB school divisions, FRAME report 2017-18), and 6 times the administration and bureaucracy in Winnipeg.

Manitoba per student cost is the 2nd highest in Canada, but Manitoba Grade 8 student national testing outcomes are last in science/math/English. The present Manitoba education governance system is too large for 1.3 million population, responsively slow, excessive influential political ideology, less effective, less efficient, and often lacking fiscal responsibility to taxpayers, than Manitoba educational governance could be. These self-inflicted real and artificial barriers to governance and education must be eliminated.

We request that the Manitoba school trustees be phased out from 297 to 0 within four years. Some school trustees may have limited knowledge, experience, and competence in education, governance, administration, collective bargaining, finance, contracts, human resources, transportation, building operations and maintenance. Some school trustees are very active members of various political parties and instituting their own governance political agendas and ideology, for example Winnipeg School Division No 1 where almost all present trustees appear to either be active members, donors, or supporters of the NDP. Minimize “politics” in the elementary, middle/junior high, and high schools and classrooms. Indoctrination may be superseding fundamental education.

We request the Manitoba government appoint a 9 or 11 member education advisory council, highly focused on student educational and knowledge transfer improvement, high performance outcomes, and enhanced test results. Nova Scotia dissolved their 7 elected regional school boards, with 1 provincial advisory council made up of people appointed by the minister of education in 2018.

Transparency may be insufficient and unacceptable in some existing school boards and trustees. Some school boards/trustees minimize public participation, public notices, and open meetings. Some trustees do not want public awareness/scrutiny or media reporting of their education actions, behaviors, decisions, and policies. Manitoba is requested to end the sometimes lack of accountability and transparency, and phase out and eliminate all Manitoba school divisions/boards/trustees.

Canadian public education is a provincial constitutional and legal responsibility, according to the Canadian Constitution Act (sections 91 and 92) responsibilities, and many Canadian court rulings. The exception is Canadian federal government responsibility for education on reservations. The Manitoba government is requested to immediately stop downloading and transferring their educational, constitutional, and legal responsibilities to school divisions/ boards/trustees, and municipalities.

New Zealand’s smaller Ministry of Education replaced the Department of Education (described as “inefficient and unresponsive” and a case of “good people, bad system”), and the regional Education Boards were abolished in 1989. See 1988 New Zealand “Picot Report”, Administering for excellence: effective administration in education.

In Manitoba if you own a non-principal residence/property/farm/cottage/business, you are not allowed to vote for the local school trustees. This is discriminatory Manitoba government, school division and municipality taxation without representation, and apparently unconstitutional and not following Canadian and other jurisdiction’s legal court rulings. Many years ago, ONLY Manitoba property owners were allowed to vote in municipal elections and for school trustees. Only the taxpayers who paid the taxation costs could elect the representation. Taxation with representation. The equitable, constitutional, and legal solution for this discrimination is to eliminate all Manitoba school divisions/boards/trustees as soon as possible and at latest by 2023.

Provinces and Territories that have eliminated education tax have continued their commitment to education and have found ways to fund education.

Province/Territory Education Taxes On Property
NL 0% education tax on property
NS Levied by province 2013 mill rate 3.51 mills.
PEI 0% education tax on property
NB 0% education tax on property since 1996. Eliminated all school divisions and boards.
QC Residential school board 2013 mill rate 2.5867 mills.
ON Since 1998 levied by province 2013 residential rate .221000% equivalent to mill rate of 2.21 mills.
MB School division average 2013 mill rate 15.3 mills
SK Levied by province 2013 mill rate residential 5.03 mills, agriculture 2.67 mills.
AB Levied by province 2013 mill rate 2.65 residential/farm.
BC Levied by province varies by school district 2013 mill rates vary from 1.172 to 5.2433 mills.
NU 0% education tax on property
NWT Levied by territory five municipal 2013 education tax rates varying from 2.63 to 4.62 mills.
YT 0% education tax on property

Funding
Presently the Manitoba provincial government provides about 60% of education operating fund revenues (FRAME report 2017-18). The Manitoba municipalities, via school and education taxes and levies assessed on property owners, provides about 35% of education operating fund revenues (FRAME report 2017-18). Canadian public education and funding, is a provincial constitutional and legal responsibility, according to the Canadian Constitution Act (sections 91 and 92) responsibilities, and many Canadian court rulings. Therefore the Manitoba provincial government shall alternatively provide this 35% of education operating fund revenues, not municipalities and not property owners by 2020.

New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, and Yukon, all fund 100% of public school education costs from general provincial revenues and do not use any property taxes. Alberta derives only 5% of their education funding from education taxes on property.

There are tens of thousands of human resource hours, and millions of dollars a year, consumed and wasted by Manitoba municipalities, in the municipal administration, assessment, collection and taxation, of properties for the annual school and education taxes and levies. It would be far more effective and efficient for the Manitoba provincial government to assume the single legal responsibility for education, and follow the Canadian Constitution Act. This would be an overall less costly funding model, and reduce Manitoba education expenses, and costs for students, parents, taxpayers, municipalities, and provincial government. New Brunswick began this lower cost approach in 1996. The Manitoba additional benefits of lower taxation, and making the economy and education system, more competitive compared to other jurisdictions, has been a significant missed opportunity for decades. Manitoba must compete more effectively for attracting residents and students to locate to, or remain in, Manitoba to overcome geographic and climatic disadvantages.

If you own a Manitoba principal residence, you receive a Manitoba provincial tax credit of $700/year, can vote for local school trustees, can enroll your children in the local school and local school division, and you are eligible for federal/provincial government Disaster Financial Assistance programs (such as for flooding). If you own a Manitoba non-principal residence, you do not receive a Manitoba provincial tax credit of $700/year, cannot vote for local school trustees, cannot enroll your children in the local school and local school division, and are denied federal/provincial government Disaster Financial Assistance programs. Manitoba non-principal residence and property owners pay the same property/school/education taxes and levies as principal residence owners, but are discriminatorily denied the same benefits. This prejudicial discrimination, unconstitutional policies, and inequitable treatment must end immediately!

Debt financing and borrowing is deferred future over-taxation of future generations of taxpayers and property owners. Manitoba governments, politicians, and residents must live within their financial means capacity. Manitoba cannot afford to waste limited education funding and resources on non-core fundamental education, excessive administration and bureaucracy, duplication/multiplication of functions, inefficiency and ineffectiveness. There must be clear and highly focused priorities on education of languages, math, sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), history (Aboriginal, Canadian, Asian, African, European, American), geography, civics (municipal/provincial/federal governments, elections, referendums, comparisons to other countries), information technology, economics and finance, home economics, industrial arts, music, art.

Manitoba is requested to standardize the education curriculum and resources, so rural and urban students have access to the same education tools and resources, such as computers and information technology. Use of low cost complementary resources such as www.khanacademy.org can assist and support students, parents, and educators.

Manitoba qualifying agricultural property owners have received an 80% Farmland School Tax Rebate (FSTR), which began in 2004, but people have to apply annually, causing yet another inefficient program administration expense. Why are Manitoba non-qualifying agricultural, residential, commercial, and business property owners denied the same 80% school and education property tax rebate? This policy is prejudicial discrimination and must end immediately. Remove all Manitoba school and education taxes and levies from all Manitoba properties as soon as possible and at latest by 2023.

Several Winnipeg downtown commercial buildings and properties have been given 10 to 20 year property school and education tax and levy exemptions in recent years by Manitoba politicians. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman have held recent press conferences announcing these exemptions under the purported justification of economic development and downtown revitalization. Why do other Manitoba principal and non-principal residence property owners not receive the same property school and education tax and levy exemptions? Non-principal property owners in rural Manitoba contribute millions of dollars per year in economic activity and development, in many cases revitalize rural Manitoba and prevent decline to ghost towns, but are disrespected by politicians and mistreated like over-taxed fleeced sheep. This Manitoba political attitude and this policy is prejudicial discrimination and must end immediately.

Republic of Ireland. There are no school and education taxes or levies on any Ireland properties. There are no property taxes on any Ireland properties. Education is funded by the Ireland government, not property owners. The Irish Department of Education and Skills, under the control of the Minister for Education and Skills, is in overall control of policy, funding and direction, while other important organizations are the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, the Higher Education Authority, and on a local level the Education and Training Boards are the only comprehensive system of government organization. New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, Yukon, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belarus, Cayman Islands, Chile, China (agricultural), Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Dominica, Fiji, Georgia, Guyana, Ireland, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malta, Monaco, Oman, Philippines (a few dollars/year), Russia, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Turks and Caicos Islands, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and other jurisdictions have achieved education funding without any property school and education taxes and levies. Why can’t Manitoba? There has been a historic lack of Manitoba political leadership, will, and prioritization to achieve education funding, effectiveness, and efficiency, exclusively by the province of Manitoba, and to comply with the education legal funding responsibility and compliance with the Canadian Constitution Act.

MACO is requesting Manitoba remove all school and education taxes off of all Manitoba principal and non-principal, residential/commercial/agricultural/business properties within 4 years by 2023. It is time to stop penalizing and punishing Manitoba property owners. Funding for Manitoba education is to come from the Manitoba provincial consolidated general revenues account. Comply with the Canadian Constitution Act.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision:

Student Learning:

Teaching:

Accountability for Student Learning:

Governance:

  • Review New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, and Yukon education governance.
  • Review the New Brunswick reduction of school divisions, boards, and trustees, since 1996.
  • The 37 Manitoba school divisions be phased out to 0 within four years by 2023.
  • The Manitoba school trustees be phased out from 297 to 0 within four years by 2023.
  • Manitoba school principals report directly to the Manitoba Dept. of Education.
  • Manitoba government appoint a 9 or 11 member education advisory council, highly focused on student educational and knowledge transfer improvement, high performance outcomes, and enhanced test results.
  • Canadian public education is a provincial constitutional and legal responsibility, according to the Canadian Constitution Act (sections 91 and 92) responsibilities, and many Canadian court rulings. Comply and follow the Canadian Constitution Act.
  • Review New Zealand’s change to smaller Ministry of Education, that replaced the Department of Education, and the regional Education Boards that were abolished in 1989. Review 1988 New Zealand “Picot Report”, Administering for excellence: effective administration in education.
  • Re-implement complete Manitoba taxation with representation electoral policy and law.

Funding:

  • Canadian public education and funding, is a provincial constitutional and legal responsibility, according to the Canadian Constitution Act (sections 91 and 92) responsibilities, and many Canadian court rulings. Therefore the Manitoba provincial government shall alternatively provide the 35% of education operating fund revenues, instead of and not municipalities and property owners.
  • The Manitoba provincial government to assume the single legal responsibility for education, and follow the Canadian Constitution Act. This would be an overall less costly funding model, and reduce Manitoba education expenses, and costs for students, parents, taxpayers, municipalities, and provincial government. Funding for Manitoba education is to come from the Manitoba provincial consolidated general revenues account.
  • Review New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, and Yukon education funding, and that has no education and school taxes and levies on property.
  • Review New Brunswick education funding from general revenues that began this lower cost approach in 1996.
  • Manitoba non-principal residence and property owners pay the same property/school/education taxes and levies as principal residence owners, but are discriminatorily denied the same benefits. This prejudicial discrimination, unconstitutional policies, and inequitable treatment must end immediately!
  • Remove all Manitoba school and education taxes and levies from all Manitoba properties within four years, by 2023.
  • Review the Republic of Ireland, which has no school and education taxes or levies on any Ireland properties. There are no property taxes on any Ireland properties. Education is funded by the Ireland government, not property owners.

Brief 58

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Sonya Braun

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Teaching

Brief: So many of the issues facing education these days—school readiness, poverty, behavior, engagement, mental health—are affected by the deterioration of family strength and stability. It’s true that these issues need to be addressed in the short-term somehow. They cannot be ignored without cost to hurting families and children. However, if we don’t look for, prevent, and heal root causes, we will be forever paying for Band-Aids and wearing teachers out. We need long-term vision.

I believe that the stronger and healthier the family unit it, the better educated our kids will be. Children do best in school when their lives are stable, they are strongly attached to their parents, they have their needs met for closeness, belonging, significance, love and being known, and are given sufficient opportunity and supervision.

I believe that families struggle with providing these things for many different reasons, rich and poor alike. Residential Schools have had a profound effect on many generations of families in Manitoba. Our culture of independence and busyness, the rise of the internet, smart phone and social media, and our province’s debt load and economy, are likely all factoring in to the decline of the family. What we often don’t see, because we’re so accustomed to the way things have been over the past 70 years, is the effect of the Sexual Revolution on the family.

Essentially, we’ve allowed a “freedom” mindset to overtake a “health” mindset when it comes to sexuality.

For instance, where we have no problem with the health message for teens: “don’t smoke” or “don’t do drugs”, we cringe at the message: “don’t have sex”. We feel it is not appropriate somehow to infringe on students’ freedom to be sexually active. Granted, telling teens what not to do will likely set up resistance or counter-will response; because, quite naturally, adolescents have a need to make their own choices and differentiate themselves as individuals. The answer is not just to repeat over and over, “Don’t have sex”. We need to present them with medically accurate information and real-life stories that will help them decide for themselves. They are getting information, but what they’re not getting is a clear picture of the riskiness of all sexual activity in their teenage years before they are ready for lifelong commitment. Instead, the main message they likely hear (which is the main goal of our current curriculum) is only how to reduce unintended teen pregnancy and STIs. Although abstinence is mentioned as the only 100% effective method, it is not the focus and tends to get lost. The indirect messaging from risk reduction methods rings loud and clear: adults expect teens to be sexually active, but hope they will reduce their risks of pregnancy and infection.

Problem is, STIs are high in Manitoba. STIs cost money to the province. They cause stress and affect mental health in teens. They can be horrible to deal with and tend to build on one another. And they affect teen girls the most. Teen girls have a developing cervix that makes them vulnerable to STIs, even the very first time. And one STI makes her more vulnerable to getting another. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which is very painful, can result. Fertility can be affected. Two STIs, chlamydia and gonorrhea are disproportionately high in the 15-19 and 20-24 yr. old age categories, here in Manitoba. The syphilis outbreak is now affecting babies. It’s very serious. Something’s not working. The high STI rates are one indicator that the Sexual Risk Reduction model which Manitoba uses is not adequate.

The level of STIs isn’t the only problem. Teen pregnancy is fourth highest in Canada, and often leads to lesser earning potential, for both mother and father (if he stays), and increases the likelihood of a cycle of teenage pregnancy in the family. Mental health is affected. Studies show teen sexual activity leads to increased rates of depression and suicide (one source, halfway through: https://depressivedisorder.blogspot.com/2013/01/early-sex-teens-causes-depression-suicide.html).

Future relationship, especially the ability to stay in a committed, long-term relationship, is deeply affected by early sexual activity (which increases likelihood of multiple partners) and hook-up culture, as the brain is actually changed by sexual activity and frequent hook-ups and break-ups make it harder for the brain to feel satisfaction without the novelty of new partners, and to be able to form a trusting bond with one person. (article: http://valleywomensclinic.org/how-does-hooking-up-affect-your-brain). This is a huge disability for forming a strong and stable family unit.

Whether people or bottom line are our biggest concern, the negative outcomes should cause citizens and leaders to look for better alternatives. Instead of a Risk Reduction message, a clear Risk Avoidance message would be better.

Rationale:
1) Majority of youth desire an avoidance message
a) Majority of youth are not sexually experienced
• Gr. 6, 7, and 8 - over 90% have not had sexual intercourse
• Gr. 9 - 79% have not had sexual intercourse
• Gr. 11 - 57% have not had sexual intercourse
(SOURCE: https://teachingsexualhealth.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/Teens-and-Trends-CALGARY-20141.pdf)

b) Majority of sexually experienced youth report they wish they had waited; they were not taught the skills to say “No”, and avoid dangerous situations, etc.
• 12 – 14 yr. olds - 78% wish they had waited
• 15 – 19 yr. olds - 63% wish they had waited
(Source: TheNationalCampaign.org, With One Voice 2012, America’s Adults and Teens Sound off About Teen Pregnancy, Albert (author))

2) Students who follow success sequencing (delay sexual activity until married /life-long partner) statistically:
• have better earning potential
• complete more education
• are more likely to achieve their life goals
• have better family relations
• have better physical, mental and emotional health
(all part of achieving long-term vision of improving our education system’s success)
interesting article: https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/07/millennials-poverty-success-sequence-must-be-followed/

3) Abstaining from sexual activity until married/life-long relationship is the only 100% effective way to avoid teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Regarding concerns that children get sexual education sooner, the question is not whether that is true, but rather who is best suited for the job. Given the sensitivity and innocence of young children, their differing rates of development, and differing levels of curiosity, the parent truly is the best option for knowing their child, being able to provide information that is tailored for them, and communicating information in a way that lines up with family values. This is true for all developmental stages, but particularly for young children. . Are parents up for the task? I think more and more are, but there is plenty of room for growth and learning. Many are afraid to talk about the subject. However, there are resources to help parents, and that is what I encourage the government to look for on behalf of families. In addition to that, continuing to uphold the Guidelines for Sensitive Content and accommodating religious diversity is extremely valuable for respecting families.

I also encourage the government to learn more about Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), the dominant philosophy currently directing curriculum in schools, and what the United Nations and World Health Organization is pushing all over the globe. CSE “seeks to equip children with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to determine and enjoy their sexuality, physically and emotionally, individually and in relationship.” (http://www.ippf.org/resource/ippf-framework-comprehensive-sexuality-education/)

Rationale:
1. Some youth will be sexually active. To reduce the risk of pregnancy and contracting a sexual transmitted infection all students should be instructed in condom use and non-reproductive methods of sexual expression (anal, oral, self and mutual masturbation, cyber-sex, etc.)
2. Youth surveys indicate that sexually active youth want to know how to have satisfying, sexually fulfilling relationships. Hence content on pleasure, sexual activity, communicating consent, etc., is included.
(Source: The Ontario Sexual Health Education Update: Perspectives from the Toronto Teen Survey (TTS) Youth)

CSE is definitely a product of the Sexual Revolution and goes beyond a sexual freedom approach to a sexual rights approach. In order not to deprive children of their right to determine and enjoy their sexuality, children must be adequately informed of all kinds of sexual expression and instructed in how to reduce the risks for each and to decide what to abstain from and what to give consent for. Children should also be adequately informed about different sexual orientations and gender identities so that they can determine their own. The instructional ages considered appropriate for each of these can be found here: https://www.bzga-whocc.de/fileadmin/user_upload/WHO_BZgA_Standards_English.pdf (p. 38ff) An analysis of the potential harm of CSE can be found here: https://www.comprehensivesexualityeducation.org/15-harmful-elements-of-cse/

I encourage the government to compare the goals of each, and together with parents, decide if this model is medically sound in its intentions, builds families stronger, and allows families the most autonomy in how, when, and what their children are taught as a primary approach.

In the end, the key is finding ways to build our families stronger, so that our education system can more effectively be sustained and improved over time, with the most return on investment; and so that children, families, and this province can thrive for generations to come.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: General recommendations for supporting families of school children to sustain and improve our education system over the long-term:

  • Find community groups, faith-based groups, and other non-governmental organizations that also want to support families, and see what kind of partnerships can be formed—this can help alleviate the cost burden on the government as both short-term solutions and long-term solutions are sought
  • Establish a clear picture of what you consider to be a healthy (not perfect) family: what responsibilities they carry out and what needs they attend to, so as to not confuse government responsibility with family responsibility
  • Continue to value choice in education for parents and respect family beliefs and values
  • Do research to find most effective programs already in place in Winnipeg or other parts of the country/globe that deal with and help people recover from abuse, trauma, addiction, mental illness, and so on and bring awareness to them
  • Whenever inviting input from parents or offering workshops to parents, make sure to have separate meetings (or at least allow them to form their own small group) for those with similar language and culture, so they feel free to share their ideas and concerns

Student Learning:

Teaching: My recommendation for teaching sex ed is to choose a model that will: best build strong families and thus allow our education system to create the best possible future for Manitobans, in an economically sustainable manner (where we can focus on the government’s responsibilities of providing relevant and rigorous educational opportunities, well-trained teachers, and enriching learning environments because families are able to take care of their responsibilities more effectively).

This is not a call to return to the old abstinence model of telling kids to wait and withholding information on contraception or STIs because it is irrelevant. This is most certainly a time when kids need to be informed. The sexual risk avoidance model (SRA) is a sexual health program that equips youth to make the healthiest, medically accurate decisions around sexual activity: to delay sexual activity until married/life-long partner. In addition to the typical sex ed content (reproduction, puberty, sexually transmitted infections) the program also helps students to:

  • identify their goals,
  • understand the negative impact early teen sexual activity can have on achieving goals; completing education; earning potential; mental, physical and emotional health, etc.
  • develop skills to resist negative peer pressure by setting protective boundaries and developing refusal skills

NOTE: the above applies no matter the sexual orientation of the individual.

In addition, teens also need to:

  • compare what the media says and shows about sex
  • understand what pornography is, how it damages young minds and future relationships, how to avoid it, and what to do if they see it,
  • learn how to keep themselves safe from sexual predators online and how to recognize the signs of being groomed for human trafficking,
  • understand the dangers of sexting (both laws and natural consequences) and learn how to resist pressures to request and send sexts
  • recognize the challenges in decision-making because of their adolescent brain
  • realize the importance of confiding in a parent/trusted adult when being pressured or bullied
  • know school policies and steps to take when dealing with problems in these areas

Recognizing the need for parents to be involved in teaching, I recommend that the government find programs from reputable, medical sources that help parents grow in their knowledge of:

  • Great parenting
  • Effective communication
  • Adolescent development
  • Decision-making for adolescents (dealing with peer pressure, adolescent brain, pornography, social media etc.)
  • Healthy and unhealthy relationships
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Contraception (including kinds, risks and efficacy)
  • HIV and STIs (including risks and long-term effects and limitations of risk reduction methods)
  • Sexual risk avoidance
  • (As well as special workshops on pornography, gaming, social media, sexting, cyber safety, human trafficking and so on).

Once again, the emphasis is on building stronger families by helping to equip them to carry out their responsibilities most effectively. None of these resources has to cost the government a great deal of money, but any investment made will repay huge dividends.

Accountability for Student Learning: N/A

Governance: N/A

Funding: N/A

Brief 59

Date Received: 5/31/2019

Name: Pembina Trails School Division

Organization: Pembina Trails School Division

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Before we begin, we feel it is important to share our story. Pembina Trails School Division is the fourth largest and among the fastest growing school divisions in Manitoba. We are 14,500 students, 2000 staff, and 35 schools strong! The Board of Trustees could not be prouder of what our students and staff accomplish every day. We serve the south-west quadrant of the City of Winnipeg. With the rapid development in Waverley West and Ridgewood West, we are projecting that our enrolment will increase by 4,000 students over the next ten years. Pembina Trails was created in 2002, carrying on the traditions of excellence and high standards in our legacy school divisions, Assiniboine South and Fort Garry.

In 2009, Pembina Trails’ trustees began a journey in Leadership for Student Learning – The School Board’s Role in Creating School Districts Where All Students Succeed (Iowa Association of School Boards, 2007). The journey included a World Café (not unlike the public workshops being held by the current K-12 Education Commission), where stakeholders from all across the division came together to collaborate on a shared new vision for Pembina Trails. After reviewing all the information gathered, trustees and senior administration worked together to articulate the shared vision, which resulted in our Three Expectations for Student Learning:

  1. All students in Pembina Trails will be personally and intellectually engaged in their learning at school.
  2. By the end of grade 8, all students will meet the provincial curricular standards in literacy and numeracy, allowing them the greatest possibility for success in high school.
  3. All students in Pembina Trails will graduate from high school.

These expectations help focus the everyday work and decision-making of Pembina Trails Board of Trustees, administration and staff. At the same time, we are committed to continually reviewing data on student achievement as a tool to guide the Board, administration, schools and leadership teams in areas that need improvement.

The use of data as a driver for change has become a priority for the division, which is why we have recently invested in IBM’s Watson Analytics and Compass for Success (https://www.ibm.com/case-studies/compass-success). This tool will enable us to not only identify areas of improvement, but figure out how we can better address issues before they begin.

In addition to focusing the work and decision-making in the school division, the Three Expectations for Student Learning also prompted the development of Pembina Trails Standards for Success in Literacy (SSL). The purpose of our SSL is to engage our community in a shared commitment to literacy learning to ensure success for all learners, while also strengthening student achievement through the articulation of shared beliefs, understandings, effective practices and the clarification of the roles and responsibilities for literacy learning. This document has taken years to develop and its first iteration was launched last year and is available on our website at: https://www.pembinatrails.ca/Documents/Literacy Standards Brochure.pdf

Collaboration was key in the development of our three expectations and SSL, and it is an essential part of an effective education system in Manitoba as we all strive for the same goal – the success of our students, and in turn, our society.

Manitoba’s version of “success” for our students needs to be clearly defined and articulated. While initial steps have been taken by establishing provincial literacy and numeracy goals, there is still more work to be done to establish a shared vision of education in the province and in turn to build the collective will to succeed.

For a collaborative model to be successful, Manitoba needs to develop a climate of trust and an effective working relationship between the Department of Education and Training, school boards and the public. Schools Boards must be accountable for student success and for their own standard of practice.

In their book The Governance Core – School Boards, Superintendents, and Schools Working Together, Davis Campbell and Michael Fullan state that, “The value of the board is in the strategic oversight and support that the board provides. The board brings the passion, the drive, the commitment to achieve the moral imperative, not distracted by day-to-day administration challenges. This is purposeful action.” Campbell and Fullan also emphasize that “highly effective governance requires a well-defined governance infrastructure that provides definition, guidance, and direction”. Indeed, effective governance requires ongoing professional development and self-assessment, which is why in recent years, Pembina Trails Board of Trustees has spent time revisiting its structure and governance model.

Collaboration also includes listening to our local communities, bringing their perspectives to the Board table and effectively addressing local needs and interests when they arise. This is the true expression of democracy and is reflected in the engagement of our community activism, every four years, and throughout the term for each Board.

Pembina Trails also successfully engages our community through the use of Thoughtexchange. This online platform empowers leaders to surface answers to questions in real-time. Our staff, parents and ratepayers have the opportunity to participate in a virtual “town hall” where they can comment on and rate the thoughts of others regarding a question, topic or idea posed to them. This tool has been used to gather feedback and insight on an endless list of topics such as the annual budget, hiring of new school leadership and graduate exit interviews.

Knowing that stakeholder involvement was important to the Manitoba Education Commission, in May 2019, Pembina Trails engaged their community in a conversation about government priorities for K-12 education in Manitoba. Participants were invited to share thoughts, rate the thoughts of others and discover the results of the Thoughtexchange over a ten-day period. Two-thousand five hundred (2500) people chose to participate in the process. We received 2851 comments. These comments drew 85,800 responses from the 2500 participants.

The Executive Summary report from the May 2019 Thoughtexchange, which includes the top-rated themes and comments that emerged and how they align with the six areas of focus outlined by the Manitoba Commission on kindergarten to grade 12 education will be emailed to the Commission separately. The top-rated themes are also outlined below and have been linked to our recommendations, when applicable:

Long Term Vision Themes:

  • Quality of Education
  • Character Development
  • Career and College Prep

Student Learning Themes:

  • Student Support
  • Mental Health and Wellness
  • Literacy and Numeracy
  • Behaviour and Discipline
  • Special Needs
  • Curriculum and Extracurricular
  • Poverty and Outside Factors
  • Life Skills
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Social-Emotional
  • Learning

Teaching Themes:

  • EAs and Classroom Support
  • Wellness
  • PD

Accountability for Student Learning Themes:

  • Quality of Instruction
  • Government Accountability

Governance Themes:

  • Students as Priority
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Leadership and Admin

Funding Themes:

  • Class Size and Student-Teacher Ratio
  • Salaries and Staffing
  • Invest in Education
  • Facilities

We are encouraged by the number of people, comments and ratings that our community stakeholders took the time to share with us and we look forward to further unpacking and exploring the data in the months to come.

Teachers play a vital role in helping our students to succeed. In fact, the 2018 updated list of the Hattie Ranking: 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement lists “collective teacher efficacy” as the number one factor of influence. Hattie describes this as “teachers working together to have appropriately high challenging expectations of what a year’s growth for a year’s input looks like, fed with evidence of impact, which is what sustains it.” He goes on to state that “when you fundamentally believe you can make the difference and you feed it with the evidence that you are…that is dramatically powerful.” (https://vimeo.com/267382804)

To this end, Pembina Trails believes in having high professional standards for our teachers. Our Professional Growth Model (PGM), locally developed and research based, is intended to be responsive and responsible; supportive of good teaching and learning in schools. The model emphasizes reflection, inquiry and collaboration, challenging educators to focus on the professional standards and seek knowledge and experiences to improve the quality of their practice. Additional details are available here: https://www.pembinatrails.ca/Documents/Professional Growth Handbook-2016.pdf#search=Professional Growth Model

All staff within Pembina Trails who are on a teacher contract are full participants in the PGM. Senior administrators and principals are responsible for ensuring that all 1000 Pembina Trails teachers, consultants, and clinicians follow the PGM protocol. We hold our teachers to the standards established in the PGM and believe that this it plays a vital role in the high levels of learning that our students demonstrate consistently.

Key Takeaways:

  • Collaboration (among all stakeholders)
  • Data-driven strategic direction to identify areas needing additional focus and support (and funding accordingly)
  • “Collective teacher efficacy” is vitally important to the success of our students
  • Boards must be accountable

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: In addition to skills in literacy and numeracy, to prepare our students for the future we need to “focus on independent thinking, global awareness and philanthropy.” This idea was identified by our stakeholders in their comments and is demonstrated through the top-rated themes in this category from our Thoughtexchange survey:

  • Quality of Education
  • Character Development
  • Career and College Prep

Manitoba’s version of “success” for our students needs to be more clearly defined and articulated. While initial steps have been taken by establishing provincial literacy and numeracy goals, there is still more work to be done to establish a collaborative vision of education in the province and in turn to build collective will to succeed. Further exploration should also be considered regarding how “twenty-first-century skills” like critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and digital literacy will be integrated as goals or a component of assessment. For Pembina Trails, deeper learning for our students has required a significant shift in our model of teaching and learning. We’ve outlined what this means to us in Commitment to our Learners: (https://www.pembinatrails.ca/Documents/A commitment to our kids.pdf)

In the years since we created our Three Expectations for Student Learning, Pembina Trails has developed a better understanding of the use of data to help drive accountability as we strive for our goals. In the coming year, we will elevate the roll of data through IBM’s Watson Analytics and Compass for Success (https://www.ibm.com/case-studies/compass-success). We will be able to input our data and use the system to identify and make correlations between areas needing improvement and/or areas of success. Further, we will use Watson Analytics to better assess the impact of our practices (at all levels in the Division) and then adjust our strategies and tactics to improve student learning.

With that concept in mind, it is recommended that the Province start with data collection, focus in on areas where we can identify the need for additional support (e.g. children in care; early learning; English as an Additional Language (EAL); full-day kindergarten; etc.), work with stakeholders, in particular school divisions, to develop strategies to address the issues, and in turn fund programming accordingly.

Further to the above, Pembina Trails would welcome the opportunity to partner with Manitoba Education and Training as we initiate the use of Watson Analytics and Compass for Success, which could subsequently be considered for province-wide roll-out.

Student Learning: A variety of ideas were offered by stakeholders through our Thoughtexchange survey, many focused around the need for support, often due to the changing demographics and diversity of classroom composition, while also ensuring a safe and inclusive environment for students. Specifically the top-rated themes included to following:

  • Student Support
  • Mental Health and Wellness
  • Literacy and Numeracy
  • Behaviour and Discipline
  • Special Needs
  • Curriculum and Extracurricular
  • Poverty and Outside Factors
  • Life Skills
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Social-Emotional
  • Learning

Recommendations that tie back to this theme include:

  • Use data to identify areas of need, then work with stakeholders, in particular school divisions, to develop strategies to address the issues, and in turn fund programming accordingly.
  • Provide additional support and funding to schools for nutrition programs because students need to eat breakfast and regular meals to feel energized and ready to learn.
  • Remove barriers to information sharing across government departments, so that we are better able to understand and support our students.
  • Provide funding for improved infrastructure for technology education programs like practical arts (i.e. not all students have access to these programs because the school does not have the infrastructure).
  • Ensure that assessment is not just about the numbers and takes into consideration the whole child because as Albert Einstein is believed to have said “not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Teaching: As noted in our preamble, the number one factor on the 2018 updated list of the Hattie Ranking: 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement is “collective teacher efficacy”.

This is further supported by our own Thoughtexchange findings where the top themes identified include:

  • EAs and Classroom Support
  • Wellness
  • Professional Development (PD)

This suggests that there may be a need to explore the establishment of professional standards, perhaps similar to the Pembina Trails Professional Growth Model. It also emphasizes the importance of teacher wellness, including the availability of funding for appropriate classroom support. Finally, consideration may also be given to exploring the alignment of PD with teacher efficacy and student learning like putting something into legislation that elevates existing and/or new high level professional teaching standards into a provincial competency-based teacher certification program.

Again, applicable data analysis would be beneficial to assist in guiding areas of focus and potential funding.

Accountability for Student Learning: Our brief identified a theme of collaboration. To be successful, Manitoba needs to develop a climate of trust and an effective working relationship between the Department of Education and Training, school boards, and the public. Further, schools boards must be accountable for student success and for their own standard of practice.

Working together, not against each other, at all levels and across all spheres is imperative. We also need to help the general public understand that the education of our children is vital to the future of our society and that education in the current global environment means so much more than just reading, writing and arithmetic.

The Board of Trustees remains engaged and focused on accountability for student achievement.

For many years, Pembina Trails has published an annual report to community that focuses on student success and reports on measured results against our expectations for student learning. We believe in transparency and keeping our community updated on academic achievement. The 2018 Report to our Community can be found on our website at: https://www.pembinatrails.ca/Documents/Annual Report.pdf

Governance: Collaboration is an essential part of an effective education system in Manitoba as we all strive for the same goal – the success of our students, and in turn, our society. Ongoing engagement with key stakeholders, including local communities, should not be taken for granted as we look to strengthen our educational system.

Stakeholders identified three top-rated themes in this category:

  • Students as a Priority
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Leadership and Admin

Our public school system is not static, but is constantly evolving in response to changing education and societal needs. Today’s classrooms are significantly different from those found in schools only a few years ago. Decisions made by Provincial and Federal governments around immigration, social supports and education impact the classroom and vary throughout each community. Responsive and forward-thinking school boards and professional staff are crucial in supporting the ever-changing landscape. Locally elected boards give communities the ability to shape schools in ways that respond to local needs.

In addition to bringing the local voice to the table, in their book The Governance Core – School Boards, Superintendents, and Schools Working Together, Davis Campbell and Michael Fullan state that, “the value of the board is in the strategic oversight and support that the board provides. The board brings the passion, the drive, the commitment to achieve the moral imperative, not distracted by day-to-day administration challenges. This is purposeful action.”

Campbell and Fullan also emphasize that “highly effective governance requires a well-defined governance infrastructure that provides definition, guidance, and direction”. Indeed, effective governance requires ongoing professional development and self-assessment, which is why in recent years, Pembina Trails Board of Trustees has spent time revisiting its structure and governance model.

With the above in mind, it should be compulsory for Boards/divisions to review and amend their governance model to be in keeping with current best practices, commit to ongoing trustee training and development, and complete Board self-monitoring/evaluation.

Funding: Community pride and ownership of education is high when parents and the wider community see a connection between their direct investments in education through locally raised taxes. Additionally, local control over funding leads to creative thinking and innovation.

Pembina Trails, like most other school divisions in Manitoba, is proud of its many programs and services developed in response to direct community needs, concerns or ideas. Examples include the following:

  • The Newcomer Community Hub opened in Ryerson School in early 2019 and provides parents of young and school aged children with a direct connection to immigrant resources, as well as emotional support
  • Hiring a full-time English as an Additional Language (EAL) consultant to support our growing number of newcomer students
  • Pembina Trails Early College (PTEC) School, an innovative four-year program launched in 2018. PTEC integrates college and high school courses, real workplace scenarios, meaningful mentorships and prepares students for jobs in the information technology (IT) industry
  • The Pembina Trails Alternative High School, offering students a unique and flexible learning option
  • Indigenous initiatives, including working with a divisional Elder, Indigenous Student Success teachers, signing Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord and hosting leadership camps
  • Offering our stakeholders the opportunity to participate in online community town halls on issues that matter
  • Free early years programming such as Kindergarten Here We Come and Literacy Links
  • Investing in a divisionally-based Reading Recovery Centre and teacher-leader allows us to better address needs that are specific to our division with greater ease.
  • Opening our doors to family centres that offer a safe place for parents and preschool aged children to play, discover and socialize (such as the Fort Garry/St. Norbert Healthy Child Coalition and Assiniboine South Early Years centres)

We would not have been able to fund these programs, to meet the needs of students in our local communities, without being able to raise funds locally. Therefore, maintaining local control over funding is recommended.

Brief 60

Date Received: 6/1/2019

Name: Ed Hume

Organization:

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning
  • Governance
  • Funding

Brief: Dear Commission Members,

I present this brief to you in hope that some middle ground can be found for improvement in our Educational system. As a teacher for 33 years, a substitute teacher for the last 12 years, a recently retired school trustee for 8 years, a father of 3 girls who went through the public system and a grandfather of 3 grandchildren who are soon going to be entering the system, I think I am qualified to make some comments and recommendations. At first I decided I wasn't going to attend any public meetings, do any surveys or write any public briefs for the Review on Education feeling I was wasting my time on a done deal, an educational review which appears to me that the decisions have already been made. Thank you for including the bios for the commission members but the bios, in my opinion represent tremendous bias. Six of the 9 commission members represent a strong financial emphasis, while the other 3 have some experience in education but none of them are currently involved in education! Why are there no current educators on this review commission? Is the only real objective is to save money? You also state that this is to be an independent educational review but how can you call this review commission independent when Mr. Clayton Manness served as the minister of finance under the old Filmon Conservative Government and Mr Ian Wishart was the former Conservative Minister of Education who still sits as a current MLA in the government? But in spite of all this I owe it to my grandchildren to be involved. I don't want them coming to me in the future and saying, "Grandpa why didn't you speak up?" Thus my comments on all six focus areas.

Long term vision:
You have to be careful with long term visions. They need to be fluid and reviewable at any time. Long term visions should be viewed at least yearly for possible changes, since change happens very rapidly in this day and age. Long term visions in my opinion should be no longer than 4 -5 years.

Student Learning:
The best student learning occurs when students are personally involved and relevant topics that attract their interest are included in the curriculum. Students need some input into their learning and choices.

More nature connections in student learning is needed. The Discovery Learning Centre in St. James is a good example of this. Public schools could learn from their pre school nature experience.

I feel our math program could improve more if we got away from "inefficient math" Local math professors Anna Stoke and Robert Craigen have done a lot to re-establish math facts and promotion of more work on standard algorithms. They claim we spend too much time on creative open ended problem solving and not enough on basic math. They would support a 80% standard basic math and 20% on creative math/problem solving but presently we're probably at 40% - 60% split.

Prime time learning needs to be protected. There are certain times of the day when students learn best. For example in K-6 . the first 2 periods of the morning the first period after morning recess and the first two periods in the afternoon. Presently there are too many interruptions during the school day like special gym assemblies, presentations by various groups, artists in the school, practises for winter concerts, etc. so much so that 10 teaching months have been reduced down to 8 months or less!

We need to take a closer look at students coming to us from foster and group homes so we can better learn how to concentrate our special services on their needs. Their unmet needs care easily disrupt a whole school!

Teaching:
Teaching curriculums are are too large and verbose. We need to have much thinner curriculums like they do in Finland. Thus the most conscientious teachers are like rats on a tread mill trying to cover everything on the curriculum. We need mastery of specific learning out comes not quantity. We don't want students to be Jacks of all trades of masters of none! The Department of Educations puts out too many of these types of curriculums!

Teachers need to be listened to and empowers as professionals to have greater input into the new changes in their schools. Often teachers are over whelmed with problems and little or no say to try to correct those stresses. We need to us more Master Teachers in leading teacher inservices and less dependent on outside "specialists and consultants".

Lastly teacher training at the University level needs to change! All teachers going through education need to have basic courses in reading and math, not just fancy lesson plans! A real understanding of the subject needs to be taught! Presently some new teacher are going through the Education Program with no basic reading or math courses! This courses should be compulsory not an elective!

Accountability for student Learning:
Parents need to be better informed especially at the grade 1 - 6 level.
The new report card at this level should include % games like they have at the higher grades (7 - 12). The grade scale from 1 - 4 tends to keep learning problems in the dark. Most parents understand percentage but many of them are lost with the more subjective grade scales of 1 - 4. Someone who has a 4 has no where to improve. Percentage allows for more observable improvement. We also need stronger relationships with parents of special needs children.

Governance:
School Boards need to be improved not eliminated. Presently most school boards use a business / corporate model (supported by the Manitoba School Board Association MSBA) where trustees are suppose to be just policy managers, and not encouraged to form their own opinions of what is going on in schools. To ask real questions about their school or new programs being introduced in their schools, would probably be considered micro managing! Presently individual trustees have no rights and healthy criticism is often ignored and swept under the carpet by the other trustees. Individual trustees are pressured into going along with other trustees to rubber stamp Superintendent decisions. The Board needs a greater role in major educational decisions. We need a paradigm shift from the Business Corporate model to a more Parliamentary style of governance like MP's, MLA's and City Councillors have! This would allow for much healthy debate and better decision making at the school Board level.

The Board / Superintendent relationships needs to improve. The "them" against "us" attitude is hurting the potential of many school divisions and ultimately the teachers and students in the schools. The book "The Board Savvy Superintendent by Paul Houston and Doug Edie needs to be read by all superintendents and boards in the province to hopefully bring about a better relationship here! If we lose our school boards like in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia we will be contributing to a lose in democracy in this country. School boards are the oldest political institution in North America. We need strong locally elected school boards with taxing authority! Right now Manitoba has the best governance situation in Canada. Yes, we need to make improvements but too much amalgamation or a lost of them would be a real blow to the public and democracy in this country!

Funding:
The real problem in education today is continued under funding of education for the last 20 - 30 years. At one time in the 80's the provincial government covers over 80 % of the cost of education and presently now around at 54% and shrinking at a rate of 2% for the last 3 years. Presently schools are funded at only 98% of what they had last year which represents a 2% cut, add on CPI of 1.5% - 2% and most school divisions a faced with a 4% cut before they can even start to draw up a new budget. Once a school division makes a major cut its only for that year and they have to another cut again the next year! There is only so much one can cut without lowering the quality of education by burning out school staff and students. The present government imposes a 2% limit on raising local taxes. This puts schools divisions between a rock and a hard place!

School divisions could possible go heavy into reallocation of funds but there is only about 20% that can be reallocated since 80% is spoken for with salaries, years experience increases, staff benefits and maintenance of buildings, and utilities.

Financial needs of special needs students, in my opinion, are not presently being met. Further cuts to education will only make this situation worse. Cluster schools might work to save some money here. With the present policy of parents being able to put their special needs students in any school they want there is duplication of services which is costing the tax payer millions of dollars.

In closing I really think that all commission members need to spend a full day in a classroom with a teacher to see what they are presently having to deal with before they make any recommendations. That way, they would of a better understanding of the real issues (mental health of students, lack of respect for adults, special needs students, EAL students, student poverty, foster and group home students, divorced homes, drugs, student violence, constantly adding new programs and curriculums but never taking anything off etc.) in our schools that are overwhelming teachers today! Thank you for your attention and time.

Recommendations:

Long Term Vision: We need fluid and reviewable long term visions which are reviewable at least year. Vision statements should be no longer than for 4 - 5 years since society changes so much today.

Student Learning: Prime time learning time needs to be protected.

Teaching: Need a new teacher training model at the universities that incorporates Master teachers to be seconded to the faculty, for a year or two.

All teachers school have a mandated reading and math course to develop real understanding rather than just fancy lesson plans.

Accountability for Student Learning: Grade 1 - 6 should be using percentage grades the most parents understand rather than a grade scale of 1 - 4.

Governance: School boards need to change their governance model from the business corporate model to a more parliamentary style.

We need to keep our locally elected school boards rather than shrinking or eliminating them!

We need to try harder to strengthen the Board / Superintendent relationship by experimenting with suggesting in the book the Board Savvy Superintendent Houston and Eadie.

Funding: We need more money in education not less! Government underfunding of education is the real problem.

Developing cluster schools for special needs students rather than duplicating services through out the whole division so parents can send their children any school they want, could save some money.

Re-allocation of existing funds could be done to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Remember Education is big business these days. A lot of money can be waisted on materials and programs which are not educationally sound but are promoted by well trained sales personnel. Large educational spending should be backed with independent research and scrutinized carefully by the board. Any spending of over $20,000 on new educational programs needs board approval.

Brief 61

Date Received: 6/1/2019

Name: John C. Long

Organization: N/A; I am a Manitoba citizen and a former academic employed by the University of Manitoba, 1976-2008, in the Faculty of Education, Educational Administration Group

Focus areas specific to brief:

  • Long-term vision
  • Student Learning
  • Teaching
  • Accountability for student learning

Brief: FOCUS AREA 1: LONG-TERM VISION
You characterize well the dynamism of contemporary society and in that context what, indeed, do students need to know and be able to do so as to succeed after school graduation and in life? The answer to this question is very similar in any era, as my colleagues and I have dared to say in a book we jointly authored in 2010: What's Wrong With Our Schools and How We Can Fix Them ( Michael C. Zwaagstra, Rodney A. Clifton, and John C. Long, hereafter WWwOSchools, MCZ, RAC, JCL):

Overall, public schooling should provide the means and the opportunity for the development of the indiviual's talents in the balanced pursuit of the good life _and_ should emphasize academic content that prepares students for a successful livelihood and responsibilities of democratic citizenship (WWwOSchools, MCZ, RAC, JCL, p. 184).

Now this idea is not meant to deny the importance of any other civic or institutional experience nor subsequent post-secondary education and training. But the school experience must be preparatory to adult life and citizenship, and the knowledge, skills, dispositions, and values that make life in society competent and comfortable. This is the essence of the longer discussion in Chapter 1 of our book at pp. 17-20 entitled What is the Purpose of Schooling.

In this preparatory role, reading, writing, and numeracy are certainly critical skills, and in contemporary discussions about what must be CORE content of the school curriculum, literacy and numeracy are still strong candidates for this and there is a compelling case for their being mandated.

The specification of a core curriculum for modern schooling is, indeed, a significant challenge; neverthelesss my colleagues and I have dared to advise the following:

Virtually all students, at every grade level, should be required to demonstrate a substantial proficiency in the knowledge and skills of a core curriculum so that they can read, write, and use mathematics competently, and, on graduation from high school, they are familiar with the important ideas in the sciences, literature, and the arts, and have an understanding of at least their nation's history, social institutions, and government (WWwOSchools, p. 184).

And it is useful at this point to identify the view of American educator, E.D. Hirsch Jr. whose book, The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them, speaks so effectively to educators, parents and public policymakers. Hirsch is especially discerning of the path to effective school reform given what he considers to be the weakness of North American schooling:

The possible administrative means for accomplishing this task are many but there can be no substitute for the main elements of the task itself. Schools need to have a coherent, cumulative core curriculum which instills consensus values such as civic duty, honesty, diligence, perseverance, respect, kindness, and independent-mindedness; which gives students step-by st mastery of procedural knowledge in language arts and mathematics; which gives them step-by- step mastery of content knowledge in civics, science, the arts, and the humanities; and which hold students, teachers, schools and parents accountable for acceptable progress in achieving these specific year-by-year goals (Hirsch, 1996, 236, cited in MCZ, RAC, JCL, p. 181).

Finally, the long-term must take account of the goal of educational equity and fairness for all students. This will be taken up in the next section (Focus Areas 2 and 4 combined) because attention to the goal is, in my view, very much dependent on how the school curriculum relates to the assessment of students learning and the matter of accountability.

FOCUS AREA 2: STUDENT LEARNING/FOCUS AREA 4: ACCOUNTABILITY FOR STUDENT LEARNING
It is perhaps trite but still important to observe that the essential template of schooling is the curriculum, and it is no accident that "a guaranteed and viable curriculum" is one of the crucial attributes of "effective schools," everywhere present in the research literature on school effects and school leadership. Certainly student learning is enhanced where school officials are earnest to establish effective schools, the several attributes of which are identified and discussed in our book (WWwOSchools), especially at Chapter 6, pp. 77-82 (See: What Makes Schools Effective: Strong school leadership; Safe and orderly environment; Guaranteed and viable curriculum; Challenging academic goals and effective feedback; Professional and collegial teachers; Parental involvement and community support).

In general, the overall specification of the guaranteed curriculum belongs to the Minister of Education on behalf of the public and its instructional delivery is the responsibility of the pedagogues in the classroom and formal school leaders, notably the principal. This means that the Minister, Departmental officials, and school educators must work together with the same focus to ensure that "the mandated INTENDED CURRICULUM is equivalent to the IMPLEMENTED CURRICULUM of the teacher and the ATTAINED CURRICULUM actually learned by the students" (WWwOSchools, p. 79).

It is easy to see why systematic testing of student achievement in the educational system is an essential accompaniment of the mandating of the curriculum: the Minister has the important regulatory role to ensure that the curriculum is implemented as intended and attained, and to use the results of testing and other assessments to communicate an answer to the common sense question--"how well are we doing in the schooling enterprise"-- to all involved and interested, including the public. The exercise of this responsibility by the Minister is simply a matter of accountability, broadly to the citizens of Manitoba, who have a right to know the success of the social institutions they sustain by taxation, and to the students, their parents, and all educators. In this respect, I am encouraged and credit the news release on October 25, 2018 that Manitoba will report Grade 12 testing results in language arts and mathematics (for the first time since 1999): ..."_s_haring these results," said the Education Minister, Kelvin Goertzen, "reflects our government's commitment to greater transparency and public engagement, and helps us understand where we need to focus our efforts." Precisely! But such an assessment regime should be expanded to other grade levels and subjects; also such an assessment program requires assured instructional time requirements, carefully implemented administrative procedures, and sustained financial commitments.

Of course, concern for the content and attainability of the school curriculum does not mean that the Minister or school educators do not realize that some children may not be able to achieve the standards of the curriculum prescribed for most students. Such disabled or disadvantaged students must have a educational opportunity to benefit from formal instruction, training, or. care that will enable them to also make their way in society consistent with their ability, effort, and justified supports. Here the watchword is accommodation, that is, the adaptation of instruction and assessment in light of the real characteristics and potential of such students. Every student must be assured of obtaining from the school the intellectual and social capital that is not derived from the child's home, the core princip