E-DEMOCRACY | MPS Board Election part of a national trend

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From: Dan McGuire Date: Nov 19 20:30

Steve Brandt did a nice job of summarizing the issue of TFA’s interest in our school board election. http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/179887871.html

Diane Ravitch suggests that what happened here in Minneapolis is part of a larger national trend – the privatization and charterization of our public schools. http://dianeravitch.net/2012/11/19/why-local-school-boards-are-targeted-for-destruction/

I’m having a hard time finding any evidence that privatizing and charterizing our schools is a good thing.

From: Steve Kotvis Date: Nov 19 21:21

For full disclosure, I came out as a supporter of Josh Remnitz. So my point of view might be a bit askew on this. But I try to be objective and work to fall prey to drawing conclusions too too soon. But here is another take on this event.

I met Josh many months before this election took place. In fact, I met Josh well before the DFL City Convention. It was at that time that I saw Josh as an independent intelligent and positively enthusiastic proponent of our public education system. And after personally interviewing the two other candidates who were running at the time (Josh’s eventual opponent Patty Wycoff’s name was not yet in any conversations prior to the City Convention), I came to believe Josh would be the strongest candidate to represent District 4 on the Minneapolis School Board.

Attending the DFL 2012 Minneapolis City Convention, I met Josh and some of his small group of young organizers. There was no master organization and support behind Josh, and in fact Josh asked me quite spontaneously if I would introduce him and put his name to the floor at the City convention, which I proudly did.

Upon having conversations with several DFL delegates, hoping to rouse of some awareness and support for Josh’s bid for a DFL endorsement, I repeatedly heard the question. Was he going to abide by the DFL party preference that if not endorsed, that he would he step aside and cease running? I explained that no, Josh was interested in being on the school board and wasn’t going to let an endorsement process stop him from his commitment in doing so. Time and time again, I got the response, that well then no, they would not vote for him in the endorsement process. This disappointed me. It seemed those attending the DFL City convention were most interested in getting a DFL candidate into the School Board. The School Board is a non-partisan board seat.

On the last day of filing, we all learned that Patty Wycoff’s name was placed into election process for District 4. I spoke with a number of people, including those who were supporting Patty, that she was encouraged to run by fellow Bryn Mawr neighbor and former DFL Speaker of the House Representative Margaret Anderson Kelliher. The clout of such a supporter had already swayed a number of DFL public officials, inside and outside the District 4 boundaries, that they too would support Patty’s campaign. The DFL heft seemed to solidify, bringing along with them their organizing and boots on the the ground campaign power. These are the same powers that in 2010, school board candidate Rebecca Gagnon who without their endorsement was skillful and impressively leveraged through very hard work, to gain party acceptance, public awareness and votes.

And now we come to the post election response. While it is perhaps relevant that Jim Davnie might be one to comment on the election results, in that he was the the sponsor of the bill (“The Davnie Bill” as it is called) that created the sub-districts within our entire city school district that created this seat being discussed today. As referenced in Brandt’s story, Rep. Davnie, who lives in a separate House district outside of District 4, was commenting on the cost of this race.

The only figure being bandied about at this time is the collection of $37,000 by the Remitz campaign. These figures stand in absence of many other figures. Context is everything. I would be interested what amount and/or share of this amount actually represents this “national” money? How much of it was raised by local supporters? Likewise, what amount did the competing campaign raise? How much of it was from local community supporters? How much of it was from other special interests. People have talked about teacher’s union involvement, but what about partisan parties and their affiliates. Again, this is a non-partisan seat.

Finally, what concerns me about this talk without these kinds of data being included as a reference, is the underlying message. That message seems to suggest that Josh Remnitz does not represent those who elected him. It suggests he was placed in his seat by outsiders. It seems to wish to discount his membership on the board before he even takes the oath of office. The data that are in is that Josh won 10 of the 14 neighborhoods that represent District 4: Kenwood (63%), Lowry Hill (62%), East Isles (59%), East Calhoun (57%), Loring Park (55%), Downtown East (54%), Lowry Hill East (52%), Cedar Isles Dean (51%), and Whittier (50%). Wycoff won in four neighborhoods: Bryn Mawr (67%), Elliot Park (57%), Stevens Square/Loring Heights (54%), and Downtown West (53%).

I for one am one of those of us in the public who wish for the bickering and partisan polarization of our legislatures to just stop. We have too many things to get done. Just like the Republicans who found themselves on the loosing side of some elections this year, I am hoping that the DFL loyalists do not too fall prey to explaining that the election as being bought by outsiders. It is my understanding our election results are determined by votes, not dollars. To suggests that those of us who voted for Josh are not intelligent enough to make up our minds regardless of how many postcards the campaign was able to afford is laughable if not insulting. Josh was elected. Let’s please move forward.

Steve Kotvis Kenwood, MPS District 4, Minneapolis

From: Joe Nathan Date: Nov 19 22:43

3 quick things:

1. For what it’s worth, I was active in none of the MPS school board campaigns (though involved in a number of others including vote no on amendments and vote yes for St. Paul Referendum, plus Obama and the DFL’ers running for state legis from our part of St. Paul).

2. My sense is that both candidates in the area we are discussing brought potentially valuable insights to the MPS board. It will be interesting to see what Josh (who I don’t think I’ve ever met) makes as his priorities as a MPS board member.

3.As to spending money, I think that the Koch brothers and others learned that just spending $ does not guarantee success in elections.

However, unions also spent a lot of money as this article from the Star Tribune explains: Sincerely, Joe

http://www.startribune.com/nation/179992721.html?page=all&prepage=2&c=y#continue

From: Dan McGuire Date: Nov 20 13:33

It seems that there’s still some appetite for more discussion regarding union vs Ed Deform efforts. I, too, am interested in seeing how much of Wycoff’s support came from outside of Minneapolis. The MFT59 is very much a part of Minneapolis and has been for a very long time. Margaret Anderson Keliher is very much a part of Minneapolis and the MPS and has been for many years; her interest in the MPS is not news or unusual. That she should use her influence in support of a candidate is very appropriate.

I’m not really sure how Joe Nathan’s inclusion of a report on union involvement in the national elections fits into this discussion of the MPS board election other than to fuel a union vs charter argument. I did find it interesting that Joe was one of the few non Washington contributors to the Washington state initiative to strengthen charters in Washington state. By contributing, Joe put himself in the company of the very big money that is pushing for more mostly non-union charterization of our public schools.

Discussing Josh R.’s national support is ‘moving on.’ We need to continue to be very aware of national involvement in our local school board and our local schools. Just what are the motives of those people from outside of Mpls (Josh is only very, very recently from Mpls) for getting involved in our local school board elections. It is quite obvious that the MFT59, wholly comprised of MPS teachers, wants to strengthen the authority and influence of the MPS teachers. Many of us think that strengthening the role of teachers is a good thing; they are, after all, the ones that do the teaching.

From: Joe Nathan Date: Nov 20 15:41

Yes, giving teachers new opportunities to lead can be a good idea. That’s part of the reason I’ve praised the MFT leadership for their efforts to help start site governed schools. It’s part of the reason I praised the Pierre Botineau French Immersion School, the first site-governed school coming from legislation MFT promoted. Bottineau is not only in the first in Minneapolis but the first in the state. It’s part of reason we’ve cited (and helped bring to town a leader from Boston who worked with union members to set up Pilot Schools within the district.

Yes, I plead guilty to giving donations to people in other parts of the US (like a recent contribution to the Red Cross to help flood victims) and even donations to Care to help people in other parts of the world. I’m glad some of us are able to make such contributions to help folks in other places, and I’m glad people around the country are interested in what’s happening here. I’ve also given money to some Minneapolis district public schools, and helped arrange corporate donations to MPS. So this is not about charter vrs district, or union vrs charter.

Unions have every right to be involved in elections here and anywhere they choose. So do other folks.

Last night it was interesting to hear Supt Johnson and Mayor Rybeck praise Josh last night. I finally met the guy. I think he will bring some valuable insights to MPS.

Joe
(Parent of 3 SPPS graduates, and husband of a SPPS 37 year teacher, recently retired.

From: Doug Mann Date: Nov 20 15:51

“Education reform” promoted by 50Can, MNCan, the Broad Foundation puts a lot of stress on taking away teacher job protections, like tenure and seniority. This agenda has had the support of both the US Congress and the Executive branch under GW Bush and Barack Obama.

The teachers unions have fought attempts to strip away their rights, but are losing ground. Pay-for-performance and the end of seniority rights and tenure rights are on the agenda. That means an end to teachers unions, or at any rate teachers unions that function as labor unions. With seniority and tenure rights, teachers are pretty much dismissible at will.

The K-12 Education Reform being carried out has been aptly referred to as an labor relations agenda masquerading as a school improvement and ‘Civil Rights’ agenda. We are all told it’s about closing the achievement gap. Somehow, stripping away rights obtained by teachers through unionization will close the achievement gap by concentrating more power in the hands of supervisors. No need for checks and balances, because we are all in it for the kids, right?

In my opinion, the racial test score gap is a result of both unequal distribution of wealth (and adverse effects of poverty) and unequal access to a quality, public education. The Ed Reformers claim to have high expectations of all children, despite high child poverty rates, and do not have any straightforward plans to make a quality public education accessible to all on an equal basis. The Ed reformers have never proposed to reduce the exposure of low-income students to inexperienced teachers, or to eliminate ability-grouping, which obviously does involve teachers having much lower expectations for the students placed in classrooms and in-class instructional groupings for low-ability / low-achieving students.

Teachers union leaders generally argue that the test score gap is caused by a wealth gap, and has almost nothing to do with the quality of education to which students have access. That actually puts teachers unions in a position of being perceived as being defenders of discrimination based on the race and socio-economic status, and certainly does not challenge the claim of Reformers that Ed Reform as we know it is all about fighting for the civil rights of low-income students of color.

Mann for Minneapolis School Board 2012

-Doug Mann, Folwell neighborhood, north side of Minneapolis

From: Alan Muller Date: Nov 20 16:25

It’s hard for a layperson without kid to follow the public school controversies, partly because it often seems hard to get straight answers in plain language from the players, especially from administrators whose qualifications seem to be dubious doctorates in “educational leadership,” etc. Some years ago, I stopped voting for school funding referenda automatically and started making calls with questions like: “What’s you total facility square footage per student, how much of this is used directly by students, are there any commonly-used criteria for this, and how will the proposed new spaces actually improve students’ performance ….?” It was almost impossible to get answers to this sort of question, or even to locate a responsible person who understood the questions and thought they were reasonable to ask. Add to this the revolving door of superintendents and the fact that many schools actually don’t seem to have a responsible full time leader, ie, they “share” one. And so on…..

Public school systems often seem to vastly overuse terms like “accountability” but in practice have very little of it. It seems as silly as the energy wonks who jabber about “clean energy” while promoting all sorts of pollution-belching facilities.

It is interesting that the public schools are being attacked from the right mostly, and the status-quo defended from the center-left, mostly. (Does anybody remember the days of Albert Shanker’s column “Where we Stand” on educational issues from a union perspective?) The right-wingers probably advocate the wrong solutions to the wrong problems, but they are tapping into valid concerns. As long as those concerns aren’t effectively addressed, the appeal of bogus solutions likely will remain.

am

See thread here: http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/mpls/messages/topic/3epNIDfo4aks3gPJnC83z

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