Minneapolis school board race begins • Four Minneapolis school board seats will be on the ballot in November, and the campaigns are beginning. One of the seats is a citywide at-large seat, while the other three are geographic seats, which use Park District boundaries. This year the western three districts are up for election: Districts 2, 4 and 6. Kim Ellison currently serves on the board after being appointed to fill a vacancy, and will be running for the District 2 (North Minneapolis) position. So far, I haven’t heard about any opposition. Carla Bates, an incumbent finishing her first term, will run for the citywide at-large seat. Her only announced opponent is Doug Mann. Darrel Washington is the only candidate I’ve heard about in District 4.
In Southwest Minneapolis, Lake Street is a more-or-less dividing line between District 6 (south of Lake) and District 4 (north of Lake.) Consult the map, though — the boundary does not follow Lake Street all the way. Dylan Thomas at Southwest Journal has a number of short articles on the candidates: David Weingartner, Tracine Asberry,Alex Phung and Curtis Johnson in District 6. Steve Brandt’s Star Tribune blog also takes a look at the District 6 candidates.
– Mary Turck
by Alleen Brown, TC Daily Planet • Ali Kofiro is a translator of sorts – not the kind he used to be in Texas, where he worked for Catholic Charities, using his little bit of Arabic, little bit of English and fluency in Somali to help refugees like him get to the United States. Now he’s a translator of culture – the kind of translator that requires a college degree, that piece of paper for which he zigzagged first the continent of Africa, and later the United States of America. His search bore fruit; now he’s college-educated and a Somali school counselor in Minneapolis — possibly the first Somali school counselor in the state. He uses his experiences to help immigrant kids get educated, and to help teachers and administrators do the educating.
by Sheila Regan, TC Daily Planet • Should teacher seniority or teacher effectiveness be the primary consideration when deciding to layoff teachers? That was the central debate at a recent “Our Cities, Our Schools” community forum hosted by AchieveMpls at Hope Community Center on February 29. Mary Cathryn Ricker, President of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, and Nicholas Banovetz, Public Affairs Manager for MinnCAN laid out two opposing viewpoints, and attendees discussed the different sides of the issue at the event.
• Wanted: Northside residents with a passion for helping families by Vickie Evans-Nash, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
And a few blogs
Don’t lose focus on early childhood by Michael Diedrich, Hindsight • The Policy Notebook blog over at Education Week caught something interesting. In the latest “Education Blueprint” [PDF] from the Obama administration, there’s almost no mention of early childhood outside of the Early Learning Challenge grants awarded a few months ago. There’s plenty of detail on higher education, but not nearly as much as there used to be on early childhood.
The potential and peril of edu-startups by Michael Diedrich, Hindsight • Education Week recently ran a story looking at the explosion of education-related startup companies hoping to break into the “education market”. Venture capital has started pouring into such endeavors, and the opportunities and questions presented by the rise of new classroom technology have given that money somewhere to go. There are some good things to come of this, but—as always—there are some caveats, too.
More Minnesota school news
• School board turns to founder of Harvest Prep by Steve Brandt, Star Tribune
• Know what really makes teachers good? Commentary by Michael Kennedy, Star Tribune
• University of Minnesota counsel: Sviggum must choose Senate post or regent seat by Mila Koumpilova, Pioneer Press
• Anoka-Hennepin settlement: Healing has only just begun by Beth Hawkins, MinnPost
• At long last, Michelle Rhee’s funders revealed by Beth Hawkins, MinnPost