Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - COVER -

The next provin­cial elec­tion comes April 19, 2016, and while the Con­ser­va­tives and Lib­er­als have had lit­tle specif­i­cally to say about ed­u­ca­tion in re­cent elec­tions, here are some po­ten­tial is­sues:

Pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion con­tin­ues to be funded through a con­fus­ing and com­plex for­mula that re­lies heav­ily on the as­sessed val­ues of prop­er­ties and the un­equal dis­tri­bu­tion of busi­ness taxes within ar­bi­trary school di­vi­sion bound­aries;

Of­fi­cially, the no-fail pol­icy does not ex­ist;

The NDP con­ducts provincewide test­ing in math and lan­guage arts in Grade 12, worth 30 per cent of the year’s mark, and re­sists stan­dards tests and stan­dard­ized test­ing. When the Tories lef t of fice in 1999, they pub­lished school-by-school re­sults of prov­ince-wide Grades 3 and 12 test­ing in math and lan­guage arts, and had planned to test and pub­lish the re­sults of more sub­jects in more grades;

Since 2008, the NDP has had a mora­to­rium on clos­ing schools — school boards had named 13 to close that year and the next be­cause of dwin­dling en­rol­ment;

Funded pri­vate schools re­ceive 50 per cent of per-stu­dent fund­ing for op­er­at­ing grants in the pub­lic school di­vi­sion in which they are lo­cated; the Tories in­tro­duced the for­mula in the 1990s, the NDP has done noth­ing to en­hance pri­vate school ed­u­ca­tion;

Win­nipeg re­mains alone among large Cana­dian cities in hav­ing more than one pub­lic school board. There’s been no fur­ther amal­ga­ma­tion since 2002, al­though Tur­tle River and Flin Flon each have fewer than 1,000 stu­dents and have low as­sess­ment bases, and other dwin­dling di­vi­sions have con­sid­er­ably fewer than 2,000 stu­dents;

Ma­jor op­po­si­tion to Bill 18, and es­pe­cially to its pro­vi­sions re­quir­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors to sup­port stu­dents who wish to form gay-straight al­liances in high schools re­ceiv­ing pub­lic funds, came from ar­eas held by Con­ser­va­tive MLAs;

Man­i­toba main­tains lo­cal bar­gain­ing for teach­ers, and there is no pro­vi­sion for strikes and lock­outs;

The NDP is cap­ping class sizes from kinder­garten to Grade 3 at 20 stu­dents by 2017, and is mov­ing to smaller class sizes in other grades;

When the NDP took of­fice in 1999, it elim­i­nated a Fil­mon pi­lot project to pro­vide home­school­ing par­ents with greater as­sis­tance, ma­te­ri­als, and ac­cess to school re­sources, in­clud­ing as­sign­ing pub­lic school teach­ers to help par­ents learn to teach their chil­dren;

It was an NDP de­ci­sion to start school the day af ter Labour Day, which can pro­duce a school year as short as 193 days — as hap­pens this year. The Tories had been fine with a 200-day school year, which some years meant school started in Au­gust.

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