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Looking for more like Babinsky and Hume

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I want to encourage people like Ed Hume.

Hume is the rookie school trustee in St. James-Assiniboia, who called me last week to express his disgruntlement about the pace of public consultation on the much-heralded standardized report cards. You can read that story here.

I told Hume I was quite glad to hear from him, though I warned him that he could be getting himself into a world of hurt.

Most school boards obey the Manitoba School Boards Association decree that they conduct themselves as a board of directors rather than a body of independent elected politicians, that they seek consensus, and that -- most crucially -- only the board chair speaks to the media.

St. James-Assiniboia has taken that pretty seriously in the past, and I warned Hume that the rest of the board could come down on him pretty hard for daring to talk to me.

Hume didn't sound too worried.

The story emphasized that he was speaking as an individually-elected trustee, and was absolutely not speaking on behalf of SJA school board, but that's never cut it in the past when a very few school trustees around the province have dared to speak out as individuals.

None is better-known, of course, than Mike Babinsky in Winnipeg School Division.

There've been a few others over the years, Jamie Boychuk when he was a Transcona trustee, Peter Kotyk and Rod Giesbrecht doing their Butch and Sundance routine for a few years in River East. Alas, Kotyk has been pretty quiet since Giesbrecht left the board to take an unsuccessful run for city council.

When Derek Dabee was making what turned out to be a successful run last fall to join Seven Oaks school board, Dabee told me he intended to be a congenial Mike Babinsky -- his words, not mine, I find Babinsky can be quite congenial most of the time. But I've yet to hear from Dabee.

Any trustees who want to contact me about any kind of school issue that's on their mind, I'm here and eager to talk to you -- especially, but certainly not limited to, trustees up in Thompson.

Ed, feel free to call again.

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