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More scoop on the poop

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More breaking news on Dog Poop Park...

The provincial government says that the public schools finance board must give its approval before Winnipeg School Division sells the property, and, so far, WSD has not asked for approval.

DPP would be the colloquial name for the green space on the former site of Sir John Franklin School on Grosvenor Avenue at Lanark Street, which WSD is putting on the market. The city would get first crack for recreational green space, or for recreational facilities; next is single-family housing, then finally a community facility such as a day care or seniors centre.

That story got twice as much comment on as my story on the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ taking the extraordinary step of launching censure against U of M and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Memo to self: remember to work dogs into all education stories.

And without a visible segue... You may have noticed the U of W classics prof who dressed his students up as Roman soldiers this week and marched them from the campus to Memorial Park in traditional formation.

I suggested I cover it by playing the role of my barbarian ancestors in Northumbria — dressing in animal fur, grabbing a sword, breaching Hadrian’s Wall, and driving the Roman invaders back into the sea.

Oh, well, you try to think outside the box...


I got another one of those calls from an adult student researching a paper. It wasn’t clear if she wanted to interview me, or wanted me to point her to sources of information, but she called right on deadline, and I suggested she call me back the next morning.

This was on the alleged no-fail social promotion policy in schools.

Maybe she didn’t like my tone when I asked her on what research and data she based her sweeping generalizations about inner-city students — there weren’t any. She hasn’t called back.


I did my first high school soccer game the other day, varsity girls. And someone high in the vast administration at Winnipeg School Division asked in amazement if I can keep up with them... I did my Manitoba Soccer Association fitness test last night, finished a bit slower than last year, achieving only the level required by a 36-year-old, and joined my colleagues in whining about the vicious wind at U of M stadium, straight in your face on the straightaway, yet blocked off on the far side when it should have been at your back.

And moving back to postsecondary...

Would any of our Manitoba universities pull stunts like this school in Ontario with which I’m familiar? Schedule the final first year exam, chemistry, at 7 p.m. on a Saturday, then require students to be packed up and out of residence by 11 a.m. Sunday. I mean, you know, like, come on, get serious, eh?

Still on postsecondary, here’s a publisher in New Jersey who wants me to interview an author whose new book tells students how — as the publisher says twice in the pitch — to pay off student debt quicker. Um, did you mean ‘more quickly’, he asked arrogantly, and with typical Canadian condescension?

On to another topic... I had another one of those ridiculous situations, in which an empowered, educated adult contacted me about a worthwhile and positive event at her school — dang, shouldn’t give hints like that, that narrows it down to about 70 per cent of the teaching profession — and I had to tell the teacher about the school divisions’s draconian rules: contacting me directly is a really bad career move, so I told her to talk to the principal, who would talk to the communications director, who would talk to the assistant superintendent, who would go to the chief superintendent, who would decree whether the ink-stained wretch and a photojournalist would be invited to the school... sigh... no further word, and the event has already happened.

Finally, Judy, I expect you’re running for mayor, so your first order of business is to declare where you stand on promising clean portable toilets for all soccer pitches in Winnipeg...

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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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