Teachers ‘irked’ over Manitoba premier’s school supplies comment

Some teachers in Manitoba say they’re upset after the premier said it “doesn’t bother” him that teachers buy their own classroom supplies.

“The tone was just — it irked me and I didn’t appreciate it,” said Will Penner, who founded Mathopoly and teaches in Winnipeg.

“Of course, teachers have spent money for years and years and years. But to say that we … should be showing initiative. It did bother me because I think teachers are very creative in the way that they run their classrooms.”

Premier Brian Pallister, who was a teacher for two years, made the comments Wednesday during a press conference about the 2021-22 provincial budget, which includes a tax credit of up to $150 for teachers who purchase up to $1,000 for additional supplies.

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“Doesn’t bother me at all,” he said in response to a reporter’s question.

“As a former teacher, as the son of one, as the brother or one as one who believes in public education, I’ve watched teachers invest their own money out of their own pocket for decades now. And I just think this is a good, fair incentive to encourage other teachers to do the same.”

The reaction on social media was swift and overwhelmingly negative.

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Teachers may personally pay for everything from basic school supplies for some kids to one-off science projects, said Penner.

“You know, there’s always a snack drawer in every teacher’s classroom for those students who don’t have the food in the stomach to come to school,” he said.

“Especially with COVID, we’re not getting in groups of five or groups of six to do group work … now you’re paying even more or buying more supplies because you know that every student has to have their own.”

He doesn’t typically mind spending his own cash to help students learn, said Penner.

“But I’m glad that finally it’s come to the forefront and people are maybe realizing, hey, teachers are spending a lot of their own money taken away from their own families, just to better the education value of 25 to 50 to 100 students that they’re there around every single day.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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