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Get over it — this was settled in 1999

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It seemed like old times at the Winnipeg School Division budget forum Monday night — which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

The first private citizen sat down to speak about the budget, and out came a determined call for amalgamation of school divisions, to reduce the number of allegedly overpaid administrators. So far, par for the course.

And then, suddenly, the speaker switched gears, and we were back to the spring of 1999 and WSD’s successful campaign to implement anti-homophobia education in the face of vitriolic opposition.

That struggle had seemed to be over, since the division introduced anti-homophobia education later that year and the world didn’t end. Indeed, became a better place for it.

The gist of the speaker’s diatribe seemed to be that WSD should be a faith-based school division, should ignore the ‘agendas’ of certain minorities, and that homosexuals should be consigned to their own separate school division. The delegate said it considerably more colourfully, but her verbatim presentation was offensive in so many ways to such a wide range of people, including people I know who share the faith for which she claims to speak.

Sigh.

Moving right along, we drove past an American high school on our vacation last week, and about 200 yards before the school, here’s a sign that says "drug-free school zone". OK, I’m thinking that’s kind of a given back home, and, idyllically, isn’t everywhere supposed to be drug-free? But I was wondering, does that sign imply the drug dealers should just set up booths on the side of the sign away from the school, and that would be OK?

Meanwhile......every once in a while you hear that something you’ve done has turned out to help.

Karen Seiler, WSD’s inner city superintendent, reminded me that when she was principal at Sister MacNamara School, that I’d done a story on the adjacent multi-lane drag strip that endangered her kids and crossing guards as cars raced up and down Balmoral Street, and made sharp turns on and off Sargent Avenue, oblivious to or uncaring about all the children trying to cross the street. Seiler said that story helped convince the city to put traffic cameras at the intersection.

Also.....I was chatting with a trustee with whom I occasionally have had parent-to-parent chats, and realizing again how much our lives have changed. I drive by Grant Park High School frequently, yet it’s no longer part of our lives. I’ve only been in there a couple of times this school year, and that was back in September when I was refereeing soccer out behind, and knew that the building is open evenings and weekends and I needed to — sorry, more information than you wanted or needed.

 

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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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