Yes, Rocky, it would have been OK, and other trustee election stuff


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/10/2014 (3093 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.



I happened to run into Rockford McKay the other day, and we chatted a bit about his campaign to win a St. James-Assiniboia school board seat in Silver Heights-Booth ward.

McKay had been elected as a school trustee in 2006, and at the time I thought he was one of the brighter young lights in public education in the city. Winnipeg — indeed Manitoba — has a severe shortage of Aboriginal school trustees, let alone Aboriginal school trustees who are also highly-accomplished educators.

But the people of SJA in their greater wisdom didn’t see it that way, and turfed McKay out of office in 2010. He finished fourth in a race for three seats, falling seven votes short of the third-place finisher.

That would be the former newspaper publisher who thinks reporters will submit their stories to him for his approval prior to publication…but I digress.

When we chatted, McKay mused that maybe it had cost him back in 2010 not to raise the issue of that third-place finisher’s having his own kids in private school.

I told McKay that it would be entirely appropriate to do so.

Just as it’s entirely appropriate to ask candidates why they’re running to represent an area of the school division in which they do not live, it’s entirely appropriate to ask candidates why they want to run the public school system if their own children are in private school. They certainly have the right to do so, but voters have the right to ask for an explanation.

I recall a byelection in which the candidate had his kids in private school, as I recall in a faith-based school and in a school which the family believed best met another child’s special needs. He explained his reasons, voters considered them among other factors, he was not successful.

There’s Caroline Winship running for Mystery Lake school board in Thompson, who home-schools her kids. I wrote about her a few months ago when the school division wouldn’t allow her home-schooled son to enrol in band at the local public school; all or nothing said the school division. Thompson voters have the right to ask why a home-schooling parent wants to run the public school system.

You may get the answer from candidates with kids in private school that the public school system is so deplorable that the candidate has no choice but to put his or her children in private school, lest their kids’ lives be doomed from the first day of kindergarten, and you may hear that the only way to save the public school system from its wretched state is to put the private-school parent on the school board.

You may get an answer which convinces you not to raise the issue publicly.

But you have the right to ask.

Moving along, but staying with elections….

I see signs up in Ward 4 Winnipeg SD in which candidate Julia Javier proclaims the slogan “for better education.”

I’d appreciate anyone out there letting me know if you come across a candidate whose slogan is “for worse education.”

And, no, I don’t want to hear from certain candidates on Twitter that that should be the campaign slogan of their opponents, do try to play nicely with others.

When you hear and see this stuff, you really have to ask people to explain what they mean: what is a better education, and how does that candidate propose to achieve it?

This is an election in which another candidate’s notion of a better education would include creationism, abstinence-only sex ed, and allowing kids the choice of buying junk food in schools.

So, see past the clichés, and ask.


And elsewhere…

One of the people who’s seeking my vote has said several times on Twitter — a social medium we old people favour, and which may become the next big thing if young people ever discover it — that if you don’t like the way things have gone, you should toss out every incumbent.

I guess that makes sense. Shannon, you taught poli-sci, makes sense, eh?

If you didn’t like the way Glen Murray ran the city, throw out Al Golden. Don’t like Harper? Then defeat Pat (no relation) Martin. You’re unhappy with Greg Selinger, then, obviously, toss Kelvin Goertzen out on his ear.


Back in St. James…

Don Woodstock is running for city council in St. Charles ward, but keeps contacting me.

Woodstock wanted the SJASD to tell its principals to hold all-candidate forums for the city council races. He says the superintendent passed on his request to principals, but Woodstock has still not heard anything back, and now he wants me to follow up.

Presumably, I would follow up to express public outrage and to shame the principals into immediately convening one in the school gym this afternoon.

No, I won’t, because it’s not the principals’ responsibility to do so. For the fourth time, I’ve recently moderated a council race debate for one of child the elder’s former teachers, and it’s gone well, even though the teachers in the room were the only ones old enough to vote. But I know what the logistics were like for the teacher to find a time when the candidates could make it, it fit the students’ timetables, and there was a large enough space available in the school.

I told Woodstock that all-candidates’ meetings usually get organized by community groups who then book space in the school library or all-purpose room…in your dreams, I’m afraid, they’d need the gym to accommodate the crowds that ACMs get.

But, having at the same time received candidate Woodstock’s diatribe about the personal integrity of Coun. Grant Nordman, I’m thinking that a high school which offers law as an option credit course might find a St. Charles ACM a useful teaching tool.

Staying with Don Woodstock….

I don’t know how Aldo, Bartley, Dan, Mary Agnes, and all the other pundits have missed raising this with mayoral and council candidates, but Woodstock is urging amalgamation of school boards…which I had not realized was a city council issue.

Silly me.

Woodstock feels it deserves full caps, so, to be accurate, what he said was, “I SAY AMALGAMATION. WHAT DO YOU SAY???”

Candidate Woodstock, I did read your analysis of the quality of public education. Though, other than somehow removing an NDP conspiracy from the mix, I don’t quite understand how amalgamation would improve the quality of education — can you help me out there?

It would be a great help to me in my job, and admittedly a shortcut for me, if you could supply a list of the people being paid $200,000 a year “to administrate over this educational farce.”

BTW, I’m trying to find a definition of the verb “administrate”; will keep trying.

I would also greatly appreciate your saving me time by providing me a list of all the “power-hungry psychopaths” working as public school adminintrators.


And now for something completely different….

Not election-related at all, but I’m at home before work listening to CBC this morning, the local part, and they do this thing in which they play a couple of minutes from an alleged comedian’s routine. So this morning it’s a Scottish guy, and he’s doing a routine on Scottish food, which is not that much different from Geordie food, so I can see the potential….and this guy starts saying that Scottish food is so bad that it’s better to be starving in Africa than to eat Scottish food, that there’s more nutrition in Africans not having anything to eat than there is in the food that Scots eat, and he talks about African parents telling their kids they’re better off with no food than Scottish kids are, and I put down my spoonful of Bran Buds and berries and one per cent milk, and I’m yelling back at the radio, why in the world does anyone think this is funny, and why is the audience laughing?

OK, I’m calming down now, back to the election…

This is really turning into a St. James day….

Ed Hume is an incumbent in King Edward/Deer Lodge ward of SJASD, who thinks that I should single him out from among the city’s 100-plus candidates for a full interview and profile story.

Somewhat mysteriously, Hume says that I interviewed him three years back on the new report cards, and he paid the price, but now, “We’re into an election I can say whatever I want to.”

Which allows me to point out for the umpteenth time that, whatever the Manitoba School Boards Association says about trustees being members of a board of directors who seek consensus and then allow only the board chair to speak publicly, you are elected as individuals and should be saying whatever you want to — while remaining civil, being aware that students are minors, and remaining cognizant of libel and slander laws — throughout your four years on the board.

I knew I couldn’t get through this without referring to Mike Babinsky, and so I would hold him up as someone who understands that he is free to speak his mind.

Anyway, Ed, I’m dubious that Big Editor (not his real name) will OK my singling you out for a profile piece, but, meanwhile, I did have a look at your website.

So I’m wondering…how would you get low taxes? What would you not spend money on, in order to get low taxes?

Just how much access would you give trustees to classrooms, how often, and why?

What does “a more balanced family life program” mean?

And this idea of having student trustees — why wouldn’t you allow them to vote? Could they attend in camera sessions?


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