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Following the pack

Bartley Kives often digs into his topics and brings a fresh perspective to his analysis of an issue, but in his March 16 feature, Who are you calling a bully?, he simply follows journalistic routine in adopting the language of expertise.

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When he says that "nobody really knows how often bullying takes place or the severity of the average incident," he is echoing the rather suspicious premise of most education research: "We still know very little about what actually goes on in those distant rainforests of the heart known as schools."

Yes, after 100 years, education research still, perennially, chronically, knows very little about what goes on in the schools it has helped create because it needs particular kinds of up-to-date data on which to base another set of policies and programs to replace the last set of policies and programs that didn't work.

Still, we know very well, or well enough, what bullying is. Amid all the definitional and statistical mystification cited in the article, the figure of 4.9 per cent for those bullied "all the time" stands out as representing what we already intuitively know about severe bullying -- more or less one full-time scapegoat per organizational unit.

Not to deny the wonderful diversity of other related and unrelated vices to be found in schools, but to go on cataloguing the shortcomings of young people is to keep refusing to look at what adults are doing to them. Kids are not instances of statistics. Neither do they need more of our humane-seeming, but actually coldly rationalistic, programs of therapeutic intervention.

The interesting thing about bullying having become a public issue is that it invites us to open our eyes and be honest about what we see. Only then can we expect to respond well.

Home schooling, which has also been in the news, points the way toward taking more direct responsibility for the education of the young. But whole communities need to take responsibility by becoming places in which kids have a place.



Sense of entitlement

Re: RRC boss questions tipster's motivation (March 16). Stephanie Forsyth clearly does not think she has done anything wrong. She has a sense of entitlement, even if these entitlements include a GPS for her BMW.

Even if such items were used for business purposes, a bigger question remains about one's sense of entitlement when it comes to spending other people's money. If she can honestly justify such expenditures, then what about how she spends students' and taxpayers' money when it comes to her leadership at the college?




Have you seen the number of high-ranking officials who have been caught at the trough lately? Senators, MPs and presidents of community colleges have a right to eat but not at the expense of the nation.

Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau and Stephanie Forsyth all figure they are entitled to whatever pleases them, by the looks of it, until they get caught. This will not stop until transparency rules.



A concert to remember

I was very disappointed to see there was no story in the Free Press announcing the March 17 Great Big Sea concert and there was no review, either.

Great Big Sea has been around for 20 years now. They definitely deserve at least a few words of congrats and admiration in the local paper when they come to town.

The energy and love of life their type of music brings to their fans is amazing. I was lucky enough to be one of the many who attended the concert. It was one of the best I have ever been to. They put on a show to remember and made St. Patrick's Day all that more fun.

I hope next time they come to entertain us, the Free Press shows them a bit more respect and lets the whole city know about one of Canada's great music groups.


East St. Paul

A pathetic response

Re: Alberta argues its case in N.Y. Times ad (March 18). As a response to the New York Times editorial that urged U.S. President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, the Alberta government's ad was pathetic.

The Times wrote that Obama "should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity's most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that... can only add to the problem."

Alberta responded that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the oil sands represent a small fraction of world output and that they are working to reduce GHG in other ways.

If one accepts that humanity's emissions are causing dangerous climate change, as activists maintain, then most people will find the Times' position highly moral and that of Alberta irresponsible -- we should set an example by trying to cut back, not grow, projects that emit large volumes of GHG, they would conclude.

But there is no scientific reason to accept the claims of climate campaigners. Rather than being "virtually unanimous" in their support of the alarm, as the Times asserted, many scientists oppose it, while others see the science as too immature to know one way or the other.

Governments can help the public understand this reality by convening unbiased public hearings into the climatic impact of the oil sands, inviting qualified scientists from all sides of the debate to testify. Properly conducted and publicized, this would pull the rug out from under the anti-Keystone campaign by effectively countering their primary weapon -- the climate scare.



Plainly misleading

I can appreciate wanting to catch readers' attention, but the March 19 front-page weather graphic was plainly misleading. Comparing temperatures to wind chill factors has no true meaning. The flag in the golf course picture was also blowing in the wind. Why was the 2012 temperature not corrected for wind? It applies to warm days as much as cold ones.


St. Andrews

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 20, 2013 A10

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