I've been doing newspapering work for quite a few years, in quite a few places. It's like building sand castles below the tide line in some ways. The best column is forgotten in a few days.
But ask me what I'm proudest of, and I can answer in a flash. It started with a column and ended with a letter from a premier.
Columns can come easily. This one did. I was standing outside a school portable on a freezing day in a suburb of Saint John. (The one in New Brunswick.)
I'd lined up to register our ferociously bright daughter for a great kindergarten.
New Brunswick was and is a have-not province. Kindergarten wasn't part of the school system. If you wanted your child to go, you had to pay.
And I looked at the line of parents, and thought this was crazy. We were affluent and had been able to give our kids a lot already. Now, we were setting them up for success when they started Grade 1.
But in Saint John's scruffier neighbourhoods, or in rural communities, the children who really could benefit from kindergarten didn't get the chance.
Imagine how awful it would be to show up for the first day of Grade 1 and find out a bunch of the other kids - the ones who had been to kindergarten - knew what to do, and you didn't. You're six. You figure you're just not as smart.
That was the column, and it was good. I was in charge and our papers kept on writing about public kindergarten.
I left Saint John for a job in another province. But a few months after I'd headed down the road, New Brunswick introduced public kindergarten for all five-year-olds. And Frank McKenna, the premier of the day, sent a kind note saying that when he had wavered on the change - an expensive hit for a poor province - he had reread some of the pieces from our newspaper.
Which leads, in a twisty way, back to B.C. In the throne speech in February, Gordon Campbell committed the government to "assess the feasibility and costs of full school day kindergarten for five-year- olds."
Campbell also promised a look at much more aggressive agenda - optional day-long kindergarten for four-year-olds by 2010, and for three-year-olds by 2012.
It was a bold commitment. But the government appears to be taking a serious look at a great new approach to early childhood education.
Research from the jurisdictions around the world that have tried such early schooling has been overwhelmingly positive. Children benefit academically and socially and the results are long-lasting. Almost all children make gains, but the help is greatest for those kids who start with disadvantages.
Which shouldn't be surprising. A child who grows up in an affluent home, perhaps with a stay-at-home mom, with parents who have experienced academic success, has a lot of advantages heading into school. Those children have likely done art classes and reading groups and already made a lot of progress.
A kid from a poor home, perhaps with parents who don't read all that well themselves, is likely to have much tougher time in those first critical years in school.
The Education Ministry is seeking public comments on the idea. (You can participate; the website is www.bced.gov.bc.ca/ecla/.) There's been big interest and the deadline has been extended to Aug. 15.
It's a big project and there are lots of questions, like who would teach and what it cost to provide places for 80,000 thee and four-year-olds.
Perhaps the program could start in a targeted away - offered wherever schools consistently perform poorly on FSA tests, for example.
But this is an opportunity to build a brighter future for the province and give a lot of children a better chance to the most of their abilities.
Footnote: Her's one sign the government is serious. The Education Ministry, which had effectively encouraged school closures through its funding program and by requiring districts to come up with large chunks of cash for capital projects, has now told school districts to hang on to underused properties in case space is needed for new kindergartens.