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I won’t be late with this blog

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Education Minister Nancy Allan is proving to be a great interview.

My interview with Allan yesterday about whether students should get docked marks for turning in assignments late -- and related issues of tardiness and attitude that won’t be tolerated post-graduation -- led to our flare story on A3 and became considerable subsequent fodder for at least two radio stations this morning.

It’s not the first time I’ve had an interview with Allan that led to pretty good stories.

While Allan uses that awful word ‘stakeholders’ far too often, she still talks like a real person, so far not assimilated by the pod people into jargon-and-acronym-crammed eduspeak.

Of course, she followed NDP strategy and blamed the Tories back in 1997 for the guidelines that have led to many classes in which kids don’t get docked marks for missing deadlines, or getting all kinds of second and third chances without consequence. But what was also amazing was what happened when I reminded Allan that her NDP predecessor, Peter Bjornson, had sent out a letter last June which reinforced those guidelines.

"You’re absolutely right," Allan told me — something I don’t hear very often. "That’s correct, Peter did, minister Bjornson did."

But Allan said she has certainly been hearing about it from — sigh, yuck — stakeholders, and in this particular case, she may actually be amending the approach of the NDP’s going-on-11-years in government, if not reversing that particular stand, on docking marks for late assignments.

We’ll keep calling the minister and working on a clear resolution on umpteen other issues — after all, there’s a strong consensus among the stakeholders for clarity and transparency in the interests of positive learning outcomes for our greatest resource, and for our future, the children of Manitoba.
 

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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