Telling Tales Out of School
New schools policy quietly changes3 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 30, 2015
| Education Minister James Allum seemed genuinely surprised.
That the NDP had for many years a policy that school divisions had to put kids from new suburbs into empty school desks in older neighbourhoods before the province would even consider building a new school, that came as news to Allum.
There was even a panicky time among parents when the policy required looking to low-enrolment schools in contiguous divisions.
Badiuk case an opportunity lost3 minute read Preview Thursday, Sep. 24, 2015
| The Brad Badiuk situation could have been such a teachable moment for a city trying to come to grips with being identified as the most racist city in Canada.
Instead, utter silence.
The Kelvin High School website lists Badiuk as an electronics teacher for the 2015-2016 school year. I haven’t heard from anyone who’s had a confirmed sighting of Badiuk in the school.
Two WSD trustees not in the club2 minute read Preview Saturday, Sep. 26, 2015
| As dysfunctional as the ongoing Mike Babinsky saga makes Winnipeg School Division’s board of trustees, it’s also clear that the other seven trustees have frozen out Cathy Collins.
She was the finance chair not so long ago, and along with Babinsky and board chair Mark Wasyliw, Collins is one of only three veterans among the nine trustees. And she’s a member of the NDP majority, too.
Monday night, the board shut Collins out of any significant committee chair’s role. Wasyliw is chair, Sherri Rollins vice-chair, Chris Broughton has finance, Lisa Naylor the pivotal committee handling policy and program, Allan Beach chairs building and transportation, Dean Koshelanyk gets communications. I haven’t asked, but I suspect Kevin Freedman would have been given much more responsibility had he and his wife not just had their first child.
Anyone thinks there won’t be a next time for Babinsky?4 minute read Preview Thursday, Sep. 24, 2015
It was extraordinary that no other school board in Manitoba has ever gone so far in disciplining a school trustee as Winnipeg School Division trustees did this week in barring Mike Babinsky from board and committee meetings for a month.
No other board has ever used Section 35 of the Public Schools Act to go beyond censure and give a trustee the temporary boot.
It sounds as though the WSD board went a long way, but you have to wonder what any trustee would have to do to warrant the even greater sanctions available under the act. WSD could have barred Babinsky for three months, and could have suspended him from any access to information and any activities as a trustee.
Mr. Pallister, I have operators standing by2 minute read Preview Thursday, Sep. 24, 2015
| I got a call a while back from Tory MLA Wayne Ewasko, the opposition's education critic, who was pretty miffed that I hadn’t asked him to comment on an education story we ran.
I can’t recall what the story was about, but Ewasko pitched a really strong case that the party wants to be asked to comment on any kind of systemic education story I do, or anything in which the government is quoted.
Which makes sense, and that’s why I’d been doing it pretty often.
Strange silence from U of W4 minute read Preview Tuesday, Sep. 1, 2015
| I’ve been trying to figure out why the University of Winnipeg wasn’t ready Friday with a communications strategy when the Alberta government named president Annette Trimbee to a four-person panel reviewing the highly-contentious royalty rates on Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
I should point out right up front that the person with whom I usually deal at UW was not working that day.
This review is a national story — I think the Alberta panel made second story on CBC radio’s national news that day.
An alleged WSD scandal I’m ignoring11 minute read Preview Friday, Aug. 28, 2015
| Whoever you are who’s flooding Canada Post with those vicious and vile 12-page diatribes alleging a scandal centred around Winnipeg School Division custodians, you really need to seek some help.
And you really, really need to stop mailing that stuff. |
Great Red River College legend — alas, it wasn’t true2 minute read Preview Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015
| It was quite the legend while it lasted.
Alas, it wasn’t true.
One of the most popular stories on our website for a few days last week was my story on new Red River College president Paul Vogt’s contract being made public, and particularly the detail that Vogt not only pays for his own parking spot, he has to scramble for a parking spot just like everyone else on campus.
WSD’s fulsome dysfunction3 minute read Preview Monday, Aug. 17, 2015
It was cringeworthy.
You could feel for Winnipeg School Division trustee Chris Broughton Friday as fellow school board member Cathy Collins humiliated him in front of the entire public meeting.
Do these people not understand irony, that one of their members would pull such a stunt just as they were trying to refute Prof. John Wiens’s contentious report — whoops, the word "scathing" always has to be used to describe it — that called the board out of control and guilty of reckless dysfunction?
The trustees had been doing a half-decent job up to that point of making the case that, as board chair Mark Wasyliw has put it a bunch of times, that Wiens was at times over-the-top in his attack on WSD’s governance, openness, and transparency.
Get re-elected as trustee, then run for MLA8 minute read Preview Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015
| School trustee Colleen Mayer’s ambition could cost Louis Riel School Division taxpayers more than $100,000 if Mayer wins a provincial seat next April.
The Ward 2 trustee was re-elected to another four-year term this past October, but a few months later won the Conservative nomination in the St. Vital provincial riding now held by retiring New Democrat Nancy Allan.
City election officials say a by-election could cost as much as $6 a voter for the ward, in which 17,625 voters were registered last fall.
I’m cool if you want to do some sweat-drenched conniving4 minute read Preview Friday, Jul. 24, 2015
| New Red River College president Paul Vogt was telling me how much he appreciated it that I leave him alone at the Reh-Fit Centre.
There’s an unwritten rule about talking business at Reh-Fit, said Vogt. |
WSD transparency still a tad opaque3 minute read Preview Thursday, Jun. 25, 2015
| There was a lot of talk right after the October election about a new era of openness and transparency dawning in the secretive Winnipeg School Division.
This was the board infamous for 20 minutes of public rubber-stamping followed by hours of secret business.
And, OK, yes, the trustees are doing more business in public, and I have to say that they’re very good about getting back to me immediately when I contact them, and commenting publicly, especially board chair Mark Wasyliw, Lisa Naylor, Sherri Rollins and Kevin Freedman.
Another disgruntled young doctor3 minute read Preview Monday, Jun. 22, 2015
| The University of Manitoba has another disgruntled young doctor.
We told you recently about another doctor who’s sued U of M, alleging widespread human rights abuses centred around his inability to get a residency to his liking. That’s his father who’s been conducting a hunger strike on Route 90. The ‘evidence’ the doctor and his family and the family friend who’s acted as an aggressive go-between provided had seemed to indicate that the medical faculty’s ongoing academic evaluation of the young man's performance and of his interpersonal skills had not been to his family’s satisfaction.
Now comes a second young doctor, who included an amazing six-page CV of his medical and academic achievements to date in his email to me so that, as he put it, "Just so I can prove that I am not a looney."
Great football… but TripAdvisor wouldn’t like the rest of it4 minute read Preview Tuesday, Jun. 9, 2015
| So now I know what it feels like to be a local when the Jets play in Miami or Phoenix.
Being surrounded by American soccer fanatics wasn’t like being in Rogers Centre for a Yankees’ game — I didn’t hear any homophobia or putting down of Canada, the F-bombs were all directed at the referee, the spectators didn’t hassle the Aussies, and I never felt as though it could get physical in the stands.
But being in the middle of all that, I felt for the referee, who I thought was doing a terrific job keeping the match under control, and who was standing up to Abby Wambach’s intimidation routine just fine.
Gender equality vs. faith in high school sports3 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jun. 3, 2015
| Here’s a combination soccer/education controversy that’s yet to happen in Manitoba — but it could just be a matter of time.
It’s all over the Ontario media, a high school boys’ soccer tournament in which two girls were entitled to play on their high school team, and their opponent was a Muslim private high school which said its faith did not allow the boys on its team to be in physical contact with the girls on the other team.
Typical teachers close in on six figures3 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jun. 3, 2015
| So close.
I reported last year that seven teachers in Thompson had become the first classroom teachers in Manitoba to make more than $100,000 a year. They were class 7 teachers with at least 10 years’ experience, the top classification for teachers and which includes teachers with two masters degrees or a PhD. |
No one saw LaVérendrye decision coming4 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jun. 3, 2015
The École LaVérendrye solution may turn out to show the absolute sheer genius of Winnipeg School Division trustees.
Emphasis on ‘may’.
We’ll have no idea for a while whether the best way to deal with overcrowding in the French milieu elementary school in Fort Rouge was to take the nursery to Grade 1 students and bus them each day to Sir William Osler School, four kilometres away in the west end of River Heights.
Logistics, not the least of which is the lack of a bus loop at Osler — wonder if the residents are calling their city councillor yet? — are largely still to be determined.
We’ll let you know if anything happens2 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jun. 3, 2015
| I checked with the Winnipeg Police Service, and the investigation is still continuing into how marble from the culinary arts building ended up in the renovated kitchen of the home on Wellington Crescent formerly owned by former Red River College president Stephanie Forsyth.
That’s just one of many stories you haven’t heard about recently, because there hasn’t been anything new to report.
And in other no-news on news we’d told you about earlier...
Teacher unhappy with my heritage moment3 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jun. 3, 2015
It doesn’t take much effort on my part to get teachers upset with me, sometimes no effort at all, and it feels as though it’s often when I set out to do a positive story.
You’ll read elsewhere in our enormous multi-media-digital-interwebthingee-and-dead-trees news universe about the Red River Heritage Fair, and about the Grade 9 student with whom I led my story, Alyssa Richard, who was celebrating the history of gay rights in Manitoba.
Alyssa is a Grade 9 student at Ecole McIsaac School in Flin Flon, and she was proudly wearing a cape of the rainblow flag that heralds the LGBT community.
And one veteran teacher whom I’ve seen at the heritage fair for many years, first gave me grief because I hadn’t attended in a couple of years — I expect to get that; as a history major and a lowly proletarian drone I have not always been able to persuade my betters to treat the heritage fair the same as the provincial science fair.
Flak from the flack, but a story nevertheless6 minute read Preview Thursday, Apr. 30, 2015
The story I wrote today on Permission Click (the Winnipeg tech startup whose software can replace paper notes back and forth between school and parents that are often lost at the bottom of backpacks) ran in spite of, and not because of, the public relations firm that was flogging it as a story.
Regular readers may recall that a PR firm in rural Florida contacted me about the alleged theft of $24,000 from a school lunch program in Transcona, and told me that Permission Click would have prevented the theft. And I got on my self-righteous high horse and lectured the PR person on how, in our country, our justice system has a presumption of innocence, and the person charged is a suspect who allegedly stole money.
And the PR person royally chewed me out, demanded I erase some statements from my blog, and demanded that I not take it out on her client.
How close is WSD to dysfunction?4 minute read Preview Friday, Apr. 24, 2015
| Winnipeg School Division board and trustee Mike Babinsky have only 42 months more to not work together.
Not that anything would change in the 2018 election, should Babinsky choose to run for a seventh term — he’s about as entrenched as a politican can be.
His performance Monday evening was mind-boggling at times.
Forsyth now acknowledges she worked here6 minute read Preview Tuesday, Apr. 21, 2015
| Stephanie Forsyth’s profile on LinkedIn now acknowledges that she was president of Red River College.
However, that change in her on-line CV is pretty much all the information she lists about that job.
Not that one would expect Forsyth to go into great detail about the expenses and firings scandal that led to her departure, but there is nary a syllable about her accomplishments as president, whereas there are oodles upon oodles of details about all the jobs she previously held.
Everyone wants to hear the firefighter or pilot10 minute read Preview Tuesday, Apr. 21, 2015
| A particular school wanted me to take part in a career day, telling me that I had been singled out and chosen to represent my profession.
The time involved, getting there and back, would have pretty much wiped out the day. And it’s not my time, it’s the paper’s time, and we all know how invaluable I am to filling the wrapping for the next day’s fish and chips.
Turns out that’s provincial budget day, so I won’t be going to the career day.
Blame Koshelanyk for doing his job3 minute read Preview Wednesday, Mar. 18, 2015
| Rookie trustee Dean Koshelanyk is causing big problems for the Winnipeg School Division.
You people in his ward, you people who elected him and let him loose to create havoc — was he open and transparent about his penchant for doing his homework, did he disclose fully and honestly during the campaign that he reads documents and reports, was he up front with you about his diligence?
Or did he try to hide it, until he was safely in office, and then — boom! — out he comes with all kinds of stuff, ambushing everyone with information that no one ever saw coming.
No invite for me, and oodles of disparate stuff11 minute read Preview Friday, Feb. 27, 2015
| I’m away until March 9, so you anonymous trolls will have to save up your vitriol until then. I’m sure you’re quite capable of building up a considerable stockpile.
This is what, four or five years in a row now that no school has asked me to take part in I Love to Read Month, after years in which I regularly received several requests? I have no idea what I did to turn everyone off, I’m nowhere near as bad a person as the anonymous on-line trolls would have you believe.