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Silence starts to spread

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I blogged a couple of days ago about the Day of Silence across the United States, a day in which hundreds of thousands of students from more than 8,000 K-12 and postsecondary schools take a vow of silence to protest homophobia.

Turns out that though the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which organizes the Day of Silence with support from the American Civil Liberties Union, hasn’t yet made a move into Canada, there is a handful of schools in British Columbia which have organized their own Day of Silence, and more than 3,000 Canadians have joined the Facebook support group, including some from Winnipeg.

You can check it out here.


I’ve been offered a golden opportunity to be considered for inclusion in the next edition of Who’s Who in North American Education. As Gomer Pyle (ask your grandparents) would say, Ggggg-oooooooooo-llllleeeeeee!

The amazing news included a link to the application form. Alas, I couldn’t get it to open. You don’t suppose I would have had to pay anything to be included in the next edition, do you?

And moving along...

I don’t know how I end up on all these mailing lists, but I got a heads-up about this week’s hot property in central London — the real London, not LondonOnt where I once toiled — which is in Mayfair, 700 square feet, one bedroom, four rooms total, for only 760,000 quid. Like, barely $1.2 million. No, don’t take time to thank me, start pulling out your chequebooks and let the bidding start.

OK, that wasn’t education, was it, though it was edifying...

And here’s a publisher in Georgia, asking me to flog her company’s plans to get kids aged seven to 14 reading Civil War graphics novels for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in 2011. That would be the American Civil War, one presumes — 1837, 1870, and 1885 aren’t on that scale, and the math doesn’t work for the civil war between a tyrannical monarch and a fanatical religious zealot in the 1640s, not to mention all the civil wars in the family histories of diverse Canadians... um, where was I, did I have a point?

Oh, right. The publishing house is pitching The Mystery at Fort Sumter to get kids to read. This is a graphic novel, and I’m coming down on the side of getting kids reading. Though, I do remember the horror from our parents and teachers when we began collecting the bubble gum packs of Civil War cards back in the day, incredibly gory stuff.

And staying on our Georgia motif...

I heard from a local professional who was at a conference in Atlanta Tuesday morning and turned on the TV news, to find a story on our lap dancing teachers. "I hope those two x-teachers realize the embarrassment that they have brought to their fellow Manitobans!! What were they thinking?!!!?" asked my correspondent.

And on that topic again, I was looking at the Globe and Mail website this week, where they convened a panel of three people to talk online about the saga, and invited readers to join in with questions. The Globe and Mail said that this would be a lot easier story to sort out if a Winnipeg reporter had published the lap dancing teachers’ side of the story.

Gosh! Why didn’t I ever think of that? I could have been asking the teachers to sit down and tell their side of the story, emailing them, putting in interview requests through the union, passing on messages through friends who contacted us to defend the two teachers, hoping that they would decide to talk to me. The things you learn from big-city professionals...

I was listening to CBC the other day, and heard Gordon Bell High School principal Arlene Skull being interviewed about nutrition. She mentioned having asked the McDonald’s across the street not to give students, especially those under 16, the free coffee that the chain was handing out a little while back.

So I again emailed the McDonald’s guy in Vancouver, who’d promised me a few weeks ago he’d look into reports of a similar request from Westwood Collegiate. I’m waiting... waiting... waiting... at least I’m not idling in the drive-through.

After a seamless segue...

I was running on Wellington Crescent Sunday morning before coming in to work, and it seemed as though half the city was out in that glorious weather, running, walking, cycling, pushing prams, and the crescent was full of cars.


Did it ever occur to the city to look at the weather forecast and move up the annual Sunday vehicle bans on Wellington, Wolseley and Scotia?

Speaking of my being ever helpful to Sam and the crew, I dug out one of those water-meter reporting cards and went down to the cellar to read our meter, then call in the reading to the automated number on the card. And when I called, I got a recording saying that the number was no longer in service, and I had to call the city’s water billing office during the week, during normal business hours.

Which I did, and after umpteen busy signals, got through to hold... if I hadn’t already had a beard when I went on hold, I would have had one by the time it was answered... and finally got a live person who took my reading, but told me I could have just called the automated line. So I told my tale of woe, she promised to check it out, and later left a message at my home that there’s a new automated line to call.

OK, I guess this is why I’m not in management. If you change a number, and if you’re going to the trouble of posting a recording saying it’s no longer in service, then why would you include instructions to call the business office, instead of directing callers to the new automated 24-hour-a-day number?

And finally, just reminding Sam, Johnny O, and the potential candidates, that the municipal election is coming, and my votes are up for bid. Soccer season is barely a week away... concentrate now, and pay attention: clean portable toilets at every soccer pitch in the city...


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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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