Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Ross and I miff trustees

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The Manitoba School Boards Association is unhappy with me, which is hardly news, or anything new.

The MSBA executive apparently spent quite a bit of time this week discussing my story last Saturday about the resolutions discussion at the annual trustees’ convention last Friday afternoon.

The MSBA — doesn’t the acronym Emmessbaw just trip smoothly off the tongue? — felt the story was not representative of the convention, unfairly picked out one contentious piece of business and labelled it as news, and was inaccurate. No one booed, says the MSBA.

Certainly I was not there gavel-to-gavel Thursday through Saturday. I won’t bore you with my shift schedue, but I was there for Friday afternoon and had previously written a story outlining the major resolutions, most of which passed.

What didn’t pass were resolutions that would have called on the provincial government to make kindergarten mandatory — school is only mandatory starting in Grade 1 — and to provide provincial funding for a pre-kindergarten school year.

The pre-kindergarten resolution lost by one vote, sending it back to the executive for further study, meaning at least one more year before anything could possibly get implemented in Manitoba.

Brandon trustee Linda Ross had lit into the delegates during debate, telling them to get their heads out of the sand, accusing them of having come unprepared for the debate, telling them that the significant benefits of early childhood education have been studied and studied and studied, and that it’s time to act. I reported the booing I heard at my end of the room — yes, I know, no one booed.

Ross is a veteran trustee and a university professor, seems to knows whereof she speaks whenever I talk to her, and MSBA is unhappy I chose this one resolution as news. Or that I thought it was news that the usual civility at the convention was absent for this discussion, evidenced by several speakers and by reaction from the floor.

MSBA, I hear, also will call the superintendent of Brandon S.D. to complain about Ross’s attitude in debate, which strikes me as potentially quite the story. Last time I looked, the superintendent worked for the trustees, not vice versa… but what type of message does this send to trustees about what will happen if they don’t follow the official line?

Moving to another topic…

Both UM and UW will give Gary Doer an honourary degrree at convocation in early June, the first time anyone can remember a double honour happening in one year. A few people have been honoured by both schools, but not the same year.

Sources tell me the former premier won’t have to scramble to get from campus to campus, that the ceremonies won’t conflict, so you can sleep easily tonight.

In other UM-related stuff…

Quite the parking adventure when I went to UM prez David Barnard’s town hall at the medical school Thursday morning.

Time was, you could park on William or one of the little residential streets for an hour or two and hike over two or three blocks to events at the medical school. Now, everything east of Arlington is metered. They’re two bucks an hour, and I didn’t have enough change.

Sign says you can pay by phone, but I was in a rush and figured this isn’t the time to try some system I’ve never used before.

So I go into the parkade off Tecumseh, going up, and up, and up, almost to the roof before I find a parking spot. Of course, I was supposed to take my ticket with me and pay at a machine when I was leaving. After I’m done, I fetch the ticket, pay at the machine, and it’s $9 for slightly more than two hours. And then after several minutes of driving down interminable ramps, when I put the ticket in the contraption to open the gate, it swallows the ticket and doesn’t spit it back out as a receipt, so good luck trying to expense it.


And on something else annoying me (like, that’s a really hard list to crack…)

I’ve had a series of emails from a public relations firm in the centre of the universe, about a high school student here who’s going off to a major international science fair. The p.r. types in Toronto keep telling me they’ll arrange an interview, I keep asking which high school she attends, they keep refusing to tell me, I keep telling them that third parties don’t arrange media interviews if we want to maintain good relations with schools, that the principal signs off on minors being interviewed by the media over school events, they keep telling me that it’s entirely their jurisdiction. And they want me to phone Toronto on Monday and explain to them just what my problem is.

And still won’t give up the name of her high school.


Indoor soccer is over, four or five weeks until outdoor starts. I managed to get through my last weekend with no cards, only a few squabbles in six matches — parents who don’t understand ball-to-hand and hand-to-ball, coaches who think that every ghastly collision in the penalty area should be a lifetime ban for the kid(s) on the other team.

But just to brighten my day, here’s a swell opportunity to better myself and to maybe even be running the Free Press in a week or so:


"Do you have more or less education than others in your field? What degree do you think one needs to move ahead in your field? Are you falling behind in professional certifications?

"Take our short, one-minute quiz and we’ll let you know how your education and training stacks(sic) up with your peers across the country."


This comes from some outfit called the Executive On-Line Mini-MBA program, which doesn’t offer an address or phone number, just a web link — must be because it’s such a super offer that they don’t want people showing up in person and swamping their campus, which I’m sure must look like Yale or Harvard.

And it’s on the internet, so it must be legit.

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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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