Manitoba Minister of Education questioned about WISE Math

Below is an excerpt from the April 19 Hansard from the Legislative Assembly session, in which WISE Math is explicitly mentioned.

(Note.  After reading the hansard today, WISE Math founders put in another request to meet one-on-one with the Minister of Education.)

WISE Math Initiative Consultations with Minister
Cameron Friesen (Morden-Winkler):
Mr. Speaker, this week is national Education Week and an appropriate time to focus attention on the state of math education in the province of Manitoba. Earlier this week, the Premier (Mr. Selinger) said that some math experts have been in direct contact with his Minister of Education, yet Anna Stokke and Robert Craigen, university math professors and founders of the WISE Math initiative, report that repeated requests to meet with the Minister of Education went unanswered for weeks until the minister’s assistant responded that the minister was too busy to meet with WISE Math.

Mr. Speaker, this coalition of math professors has successfully sparked a successful debate on declining math scores in Manitoba and the need to strengthen math education.

Will the Minister of Education explain why she is too busy to meet one-on-one with WISE Math to talk about this crucial issue?

Hon. Nancy Allan (Minister of Education): Well, I’m pleased to have an opportunity to correct the facts in regards to this particular situation.

I had the opportunity to meet with Anna Stokke and Robert Craigen in January of this year. I was fortunate enough to have colleagues of mine with me when we met. I had the Minister of Advanced Education (Ms. Selby) with me. I had the MLA for Kirkfield Park with me. I had several of my colleagues with me at that meeting. It was an excellent meeting.

They made–[interjection] Y es, they made a presentation, actually, to me about their concerns, about WISE Math, and it was an excellent discussion, an excellent dialogue. And not only have I met with them with my colleagues, officials in my department have also met with Anna Stokke and university presidents twice.

* (14:10)

Mr. Friesen: Mr. Speaker, there seems to be a question here in regard to one-on-one. WISE Math reports that they have–

Some Honourable Members: Oh, oh.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I’m having a great deal of difficulty hearing the question that’s being proposed here, and I ask all members, please, to ensure that the member is respected and has the opportunity to pose a question.

Mr. Friesen: The math here doesn’t add up.

WISE Math reports they have not been granted a one-on-one meeting with the Minister of Education. Now, the Premier (Mr. Selinger) stated that those experts in math in Manitoba, who had raised their voices expressing concerns, have been in direct contact with the minister.

Why’d the Premier lead this House to believe that the Education Minister had met one-on-one with Anna Stokke when, in fact, she doesn’t seem to have?

Ms. Allan: Oh, boy. I would just like to congratulate the new MLA for being the Education critic. I look forward to working with him. When I was in his constituency, one-on-one with him in his constituency, in opening up the Schanzenfeld school and–[interjection] Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

And then when I was with him two weeks later, one-on-one, breaking the sod for the new school that we’re going to build there because of our growing immigration program here in the province of Manitoba, he said to me, Mr. Speaker, he said, you know what, you’re here so much, you should open an office here.

Well, you know what? I meet with people one- on-one. I meet with people in groups. I meet with people in meetings. I meet with people with my caucus members. I meet with stakeholders all the time.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The member’s time has expired.

The honourable member for Morden-Winkler, with a final supplementary.

Mathematics Education Minister’s Consultations with Teachers

Cameron Friesen (Morden-Winkler): Manitoba students ranked second last among provinces in math in the recent Pan-Canadian Assessment Program test scores and second last in math in the 2010 PISA results.

Manitoba uses the same math curriculum as Saskatchewan. Y et, when the Saskatchewan saw similar results in their student test scores, that government responded quickly and facilitated a consultation and engagement process with front-line teachers. This Premier (Mr. Selinger) has said we have no inhibition in taking good advice on how we can improve on math education.

Will the Premier commit today to consult classroom teachers here, as Saskatchewan has done, and solicit good advice from front-line teachers on why math education has gone off the rails and how to get it back on track?

Hon. Nancy Allan (Minister of Education): I said when these–we received these results, we took these very seriously. I said we would work with our education partners, and we have been doing that. We put $800,000 into new funding in our education funding announcement in January for numeracy and literacy. We will provide PD for teachers to support that funding.

And I want the member to know that in May– this May, very shortly–we are hosting a conversation on teaching and learning mathematics in Manitoba. Our education partners will be there. All of our representatives will be there.

And I’m pleased to tell the member opposite that Anna Stokke will be presenting at the conference, and I would like to invite him today to attend the conference. I’d be more than happy if he would like to attend the conference. I’d actually drive over there with him, one-on-one.

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