Lynnell Mickelsen: Why all the conspiracy theories and pearl-clutching in this year’s school board race?

This has been the hottest school board race I’ve seen in 25 years of living in Minneapolis, with lots of conspiracy theories and pearl-clutching.This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.Many of my neighbors and friends see the furious posts on Facebook, with all the hysterical warnings about the imminent destruction of public education as we know it, and are honestly confused. They ask me what the hell is going on in this race.So here’s what I tell them.We put the school board race at the bottom of the ballot and often treat it like a homecoming king and queen contest. But Minneapolis Public Schools currently spends $784 million a year and employ 6,991 people….which I believe is more employees than the city of Minneapolis.Want to know more? Check out TC Daily Planet coverage of the 2014 Minneapolis School Board race.So we need to remind ourselves that we’re electing people to govern an operation that spends more than three-quarters of a billion dollars a year. Continue Reading

Four reasons why “liberal” conspiracy theories about ed reform (and Don Samuels) sound so much like Fox News

Sarah Lahm’s conspiracy piece about “billionaire and TFA”  money flooding in to support Don Samuels in the Minneapolis School Board race went national last week. Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss (a staunch opponent of ed reform) reprinted Lahm’s original piece from “In These Times.” This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.A few days later, some Minneapolis voters woke up to find Lahm’s article tucked inside their screen doors with this helpful note, “I noticed a Don Samuels lawn sign in your yard. This may be information you need to make a more informed decision.”Key word here is “informed.”Which is sort of funny because Lahm’s piece is so loaded with factual errors, omissions and conspiracy theories, I scarcely know where to begin. It mirrors the stuff we progressives roll our eyes about when we hear it coming from Fox News.Related story: Don Samuels calls cops over hotdog giveawayHere are four things wrong with the piece:1) Lahm says that a California “billionaire” gave the Don Samuels campaign $10,000. This is false because:         a) the individual legal limit for an at-large school board candidate is $1,000 per person, so no one can give $10,000 to anyone’s campaign;         b) the alleged billionaire didn’t give any money to the Samuels campaign period.2) Lahm seems to be confused about personal contributions to a candidate’s individual campaign and contributions and in-kind services given by political groups.The big money tends to be in this latter category. And since Sarah Lahm is focussing on the latter……… Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | How I got over: Why I went from defending the teachers’ union to pushing for education reform

I didn’t start out on the education reform side. In fact, if you had asked me about the achievement gap 10-12 years ago, I sounded a lot like the teachers’ union. Because I think personal stories are important, here’s how and why I changed. First, a brief history: I grew up in Arden Hills, MN, graduated from Mounds View Public Schools. Got my first union card in high school. (Thank you, Amalgamated Meat Cutters.) Went to college. Continue Reading