It shouldn’t be this challenging to write about the positive things happening to make schools safer.
I went last Friday to Education Minister Nancy Allan’s conference on safe and caring schools, which drew all 37 public school divisions and other major education players.
Allan gathered more than 300 participants and experts, with special emphasis on cyberbullying. At the same time, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was downtown with his own group of participants and experts on cyberbullying, and there were no connections or pooling of resources between the two gatherings.
I knew the agenda for Allan’s conference because I had it in my calendar and asked ahead of time. But the forum was already under way when the government sent out a news release, which may help explain why I appeared to be the only media member there.
The emcee was Mary Hall, director of Safe Schools Manitoba, who talked briefly about some of the good work she does in schools. Hall severed her agency’s relationship with the Free Press on April 21, 2005, and we don’t hear about all those good things Hall does to make our schools and children safer.
Allan singled out for praise Evan Wiens, a student at Steinbach Regional Secondary School. Allan cited his extraordinary bravery and determination to establish a gay-straight alliance in his school.
Alas, Wiens only talks to the CBC.
The best events of the day, as far as potential newsworthiness goes, were Allan’s meeting with 50 students from across Manitoba, who told the minister about the reality of life inside their schools, and a session in which students from the Gray Academy of Jewish Education explained how they had established a gay-straight alliance in their school.
Again, alas, the province had decreed that any session involving students was off limits to the media.