Update to Manitoba’s education system, most elected school boards to be eliminated

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The Manitoba government released its kindergarten to Grade 12 strategy with a focus on putting students first, Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced today, saying the Better Education Starts Today (BEST) strategy that will shift resources to the classroom while giving parents and guardians much more input, as it rebuilds Manitoba’s kindergarten to Grade 12 education system through the proposed putting students first bill.

“The strategy introduces much-needed change to create a unified provincial education system that is accountable for results, classroom focused, student centred and parent friendly, leading to the most improved education system in Canada,” said Cullen. “We want students to graduate high school with the knowledge, skills and competencies they need to move into post-secondary education, the labour market, or whatever path they choose, and have the best opportunity to succeed.”

Manitoba is one of the highest spending provinces on education and getting among the country’s lowest student achievement results. Per capita, Manitoba has the highest number of school divisions and elected trustees across all provinces.

The government’s plan streamlines administration by unifying 37 school divisions into one Provincial Education Authority (authority) while maintaining the French school division, Division Scolaire franco-manitobaine (DSFM). The authority will deliver kindergarten to Grade 12 education, manage shared administrative services such as collective bargaining, procurement, IT and workforce planning – money that will be reinvested directly into classrooms. Within the authority, 15 regions will provide a focus on local needs. Parents will have involvement that is more meaningful in local decision-making through new School Community Councils.

“Our government believes in a robust education system that addresses the inequalities of the current system,” Cullen said. “We have committed to building 20 new schools and followed that up with our $1.6 billion education funding guarantee. However, we want to ensure we have a system focused on students, teachers and, ultimately, results.”

Within the next five years, Manitoba’s government is committed to becoming the most improved education system in Canada by:
• shifting resources to the classroom to ensure that student learning and achievement come first;
• ensuring that teachers, school staff and leaders have the capacity, knowledge and tools they need to support student performance;
• unifying the education system with a focus on accountability for results, outcomes and addressing the vast disparities in the system;
• giving parents and caregivers more opportunity to participate and play a meaningful role in the design and oversight of the system; and
• considering the provincial needs and ensuring that all students are ready for life-long success regardless of where in the province they live.

“Maintaining the status quo puts our students further behind, and that is why our government is making the necessary reforms and investing in our children’s futures,” said Cullen. “By unifying our system and focusing educators on what matters most – student outcomes – the government expects up to $40 million will be shifted to the classrooms to support educational results.”

Manitoba Education will be undertaking public consultations on a variety of areas as it builds a roadmap for the future on topics such as curriculum development, teacher training and learning, and ways to support the most vulnerable students. This includes further conversation with education partners, parents, and the wider Manitoba community, and a survey that will be available on http://engagemb.ca.

The BEST strategy was informed by the Manitoba’s Commission on Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education report, Our Children’s Success: Manitoba’s Future, received in March 2020. The 75 recommendations of the commission represent the most extensive reformation of Manitoba’s kindergarten to Grade 12 education system in decades and presents a clear plan of action for becoming the most improved education system in Canada. The BEST strategy also drew on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic from across Manitoba’s education system.

For more information, visit www.bettereducationmb.ca.

(Province of MB News Release)