Manitoba children and youth are heading back to school as another summer recess comes to an end. That annual process involves lots of preparation by parents as school supply lists are filled, new clothes are purchased and other preparations take place for the new school year.
Of course teachers, school administrators and other school staff are also going through their own preparations as they ready their lessons and their schools for the new academic year. While for long-term educators these become similar rituals every year, they are important for a successful year of learning.
It is equally important that the provincial government, which is responsible for education, is prepared as well. We should expect that the provincial government is administering policy that helps parents, teachers and school administrators. That is what we should expect, but there are a number of areas that the NDP have fallen short of that expectation.
One thing parents did not need this school year was an increase in their costs. By increasing the PST from seven per cent to eight per cent, the NDP has increased the costs for every parent of sending their children back to school.
As parents work through the school supply list, they will be paying more for most of the items. That is in addition to the other fees and costs that come with school preparation. It is hard enough for many parents to meet the demands of the annual back-to-school costs and the NDP shouldn’t have made it harder as a result of their overspending.
Also disappointing is how little the NDP knows about some of the things that happen in our schools. Issues around school safety and student safety need to be paramount, and in many cases the NDP has deliberately chosen to turn a blind eye to these issues. For example, the NDP government does not collect data on the number of instances of bullying.
Manitobans agree that bullying is a serious issue. And yet the NDP has no idea if the problem is getting worse or in what ways it may be getting worse because they do nothing to track it.
Similarly, the NDP does not ask schools that go into lockdown to provide the reasons that it happened or the frequency. As a result, the NDP government has no idea how often our provincial schools go into a lockdown procedure or why. And all the NDP would have to do is ask, but they simply don’t.
When it comes to the amount of drugs that are found in our schools, no province-wide records are kept because the NDP refuses to ask the question. As a result, we don’t have any idea whether the challenge of drugs in our schools is getting worse or is getting better simply because the NDP doesn’t want to know.
Parents, teachers and school administrators spend a great deal of time preparing for the school year. They do everything they can to ensure it’s the best experience our children can have. We should be able to expect the same effort from our provincial government.
MLA for Steinbach
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 3, 2013