Manitoba funds teacher ideas amid school system overhaul

·2 min read

The province has set aside $5 million for teacher ideas to improve student outcomes using innovative instruction models or by addressing either student well-being, school transitions, family engagement, impacts of COVID-19 — or a combination of the above.

The province announced Thursday details of the long-awaited Teachers’ Idea Fund, which is now open for applications.

Teachers, school staff and leaders can apply for upwards of $25,000 to pilot a project that could take place over a period as long as one school year.

Manitoba Education plans to allocate $25-million for such projects over a five-year period.

“We are committed to listening and supporting those who are on the front lines in our schools and classrooms. We know their expertise is critical to student success,” Education Minister Cliff Cullen said in a news release Thursday.

The release states ideas that advance achievement among Indigenous students, newcomer students, students with special learning needs and French-language instruction are “encouraged.”

Nathan Martindale, vice-president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, said Thursday he doubts teachers have much time or energy to focus on applying for the fund, at present.

Martindale said teachers want to relax and unplug over the spring break, amid a stressful year during the COVID-19 pandemic and after the recent revelation of Manitoba’s plan to overhaul public education.

“We’ll wait and see what comes of it, but it’s not something that they consulted the society on and, frankly, we have bigger concerns. We’re still waiting for the province to address the high levels of child poverty,” he told the Free Press.

The province is touting a new education governance model that replaces elected school boards with a centralized education authority as the key to improving student outcomes. Critics claim there is no evidence to support the move and poverty must be addressed to improve Manitoba’s standardized test scores.

The first round of successful applicants for the Teachers’ Idea Fund, who require approval from their school administrator to apply, will be announced in June.

Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press