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Posted: 02/26/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0


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Resources impact education

The results of the once-every-three-year data fest that is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) continue to reverberate (Doesn't add up, Editorial, Feb. 24).

PISA, the brainchild of the Organization of Economic Co-operation, began in the 1990s, and was a response to the question: Does the money that countries spend on educational programs translate into improved student achievement?

One of the findings was that Canada's 15-year-olds didn't fare as well as their counterparts in other countries in terms of math performance. Canadian students, however, achieved a mean score 24 points above the OECD average and were outperformed by only three OECD countries (Korea, Japan, and Switzerland). When all 65 countries are considered, only nine performed better than us.

Recent findings suggest children of professionals perform better at math than do the offspring of manual labourers. Manitoba Teachers' Society president Paul Olson, meanwhile, has made the important point that taking this at face value ignores socio-economic factors such as poverty and a lack of access to resources.

Correlating PISA results with parents' employment is simplistic and misguided, and is an affront to hard-working parents.




Olympic hockey thrills

Once again, after the thrill of international hockey, we face a depressing return to the dismal donnybrook that we call the North American game (The party's over, Feb. 25).

Given that the bulk of NHL and international rules are already the same, isn't it time to raise the remnant to international Olympic standards, thereby sparing players concussion-shortened careers, pointless fisticuffs and on-ice violence?

The NHL has become bush league, mixed martial arts entertainment in contrast to the fast paced, free-flowing international game.

With all due respect to the don of hockey, Mr. Cherry, I think it's long past time we return to a form of the game that Canadians can truly be proud of.


Duncan, B.C.


Olympic hockey once again entertained, bringing fans to the edge of our seats with outstanding playmaking and checking by the world's best.

Notable was the absence of fighting in each and every game -- both male and female.

How can Don Cherry and the NHL continue to argue that fighting belongs in professional hockey and is "part of the game?"




Council's snow job

Coun. Russ Wyatt tells us why council is having difficulty addressing snow removal: there's too much of it, equipment is breaking down, there's not enough staff to make timely repairs, and hiring more staff is difficult because of the union (Snow too much for machines, Feb. 22).

The bottom line, according to Wyatt: it's the weather's fault, the equipment's fault, the staff's fault and the union's fault.

In reality, years of vacancy and tax-dollar mismanagement as well as the neglect of equipment and staff budgets have placed council in a position where it now does not have the knowledge, capacity or capability to look after basic services in good times or bad.

All of this in spite of the fact they are full-time politicians, spend millions of dollars each year for consultant advice as well as funds for an office assistant and a ward allowance.

It's not the weather, the staff, the equipment, or the union at fault -- it's council.




Limit winter cycling

In his letter Cyclists belong on the road (Feb. 25), Allan Hutchings made several references to the rights of cyclists. Yes, they do have rights; however, I believe there should be a ban on non-motorized vehicles, or motorized vehicles with less than four wheels, from the streets of Winnipeg between the beginning of December until the end of March.

It's a matter of safety -- if a cyclist slips and falls under my vehicle while trying to navigate an icy roadway, I am the one who has to live with the end result.

If four-wheeled vehicles are slipping and sliding on our frozen streets, it can't be safe to travel on two wheels. Cyclists have rights, but what they don't have is the right to bring traffic to a near-standstill because they want to ride their bike in a snowstorm.




City too developer-friendly

Aldo Santin's story Fighting for his land (Feb. 22) reinforces the reputation of city council and its administration of being excessively developer-friendly.

A 92-year-old man is fighting to save his property and its forest from the grasp of business and government; all he asks is a short roadway to access the property and to avoid much ecological damage.

The man's son was told that city officials "can't propose any changes to Qualico's plan."

Why not? Is this not part of their jobs? How much of the huge profits will this small roadway cost?




Makeover misguided

Why do we get another financial makeover for people earning a good six-figure income with half a million dollars in equity in their homes (Cabin fever, Money Makeover, Feb. 22)?

Where are the young professionals, people with young children, couples with children paying student loans?

With the concentration of this series on well-off, middle-aged people, this feature is becoming irrelevant to most people.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 26, 2014 A10

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