April 20, 2022
MTS Cautiously Optimistic
This afternoon the Manitoba government released Manitoba’s K to 12 Education Action Plan: A Roadmap in Response to the Recommendations of the Commission on K to 12 Education. The long-awaited do-over of the Better Education Starts Today (BEST) document represents a distinct and welcome departure in tone and focus from BEST, rooted in the K-12 Commission recommendations in ways BEST was not.
“It’s gratifying to see that the extensive consultation undertaken by the Commission is finally reflected in the government’s planning,” says James Bedford, president of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society. It’s clear that MTS, along with other education stakeholders and indeed thousands of private citizens committed to public education have been heard.”
The Action Plan features a shift in position in a number of key areas:
- Principals and vice principals will remain within the teacher bargaining unit,
- “Business managers” will not be appointed to leadership positions within schools,
- Existing school boards will not be consolidated into six to eight regional boards,
- The current school trustee model remains in place, and,
- There are no immediate plans for new legislation affecting public education.
Education Minister Wayne Ewasko noted that the Action Plan is meant to be a living document, meaning that actions may change over time. It includes an appendix which shows progress to date and how the actions are linked to the recommendations. In the coming weeks, an Education Council will be established to offer strategic advice and monitor the Action Plan.
Much of the work reflected in the Action Plan is already underway, says Bedford.
“MTS has been present at these tables for months, in many cases with representation by our MTS Special Area Groups of Educators (SAGEs), Éducatrices et éducateurs francophones du Manitoba (ÉFM) and Council of School Leaders (COSL), who bring unparalleled expertise to these discussions. Throughout this process the Society has contributed to decision-making, offered strategic advice, and collaborated at the provincial level to advance and safeguard the status of the teaching profession.”
In 2021-22, MTS participated in the work of 55 consultation committees, planning teams, and advisory groups, compared to 24 in 2020.
“There is no doubt in our minds that our presence has had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on the way forward,” says Bedford. “We are cautiously optimistic today, however we will continue to speak out in the interests of teachers and an effective, inclusive and appropriately funded public education system for all Manitoba students.”
Based on feedback from stakeholders like MTS, the priorities, or “pillars”, previously outlined in the government’s BEST document have been repositioned and renamed in the Action Plan. They are:
- High-quality learning – improve learning and outcomes for all students through responsive and relevant curriculum and learning experiences in safe and inclusive learning environments.
A new Indigenous Education Policy Framework and new Framework for Learning will inform teaching and assessment. Actions will also focus on enhancing inclusive mindsets and practices and supporting classroom learning, such as broader learning environments beyond the traditional classroom.
- Student engagement and wellbeing – respond to diverse life experiences, engage students, support successful transitions, promote wellbeing and leverage inter-sectoral partnerships.
Mental health and wellbeing, particularly as part of responding to the impacts of the pandemic and identifying actions to remove barriers to participation in learning. This includes a focus on the effects of poverty on education and student engagement.
- Excellence in teaching and leadership – ensure teachers, school staff and leaders have the knowledge, skills and tools to support student achievement and wellbeing.
A new provincial school leadership framework and enhanced professional learning amongst teachers and school staff.
- Responsive systems – ensure an equitable, aligned, and effective public education system with a focus on engagement, inclusion and planning for provincial and local needs.
A new funding model, a provincial data performance measurement framework and the renewal of the K-12 Framework for Continuous Improvement.
Read Manitoba’s K to 12 Education Action Plan: A Roadmap in Response to the Recommendations of the Commission on K to 12 Education here.
Read the MTS Submission to the Commission on K to 12 Education here.