Get to know the School Board candidates: Lydia Lee


On Sept. 9, Minneapolis voters will vote to send six of nine candidates for School Board to the general election on Nov. 4. Three of those six will be elected to at-large seats.

Candidates are listed alphabetically. Address and phone numbers are provided via public filing information; website or email has been provided by the candidate, when applicable.

Carla Bates
Mary Buss
Jill Davis
Thomas Dicks
Sharon Henry-Blythe
Allison Johnson
Lydia Lee
Doug Mann
Kari Reed

Lydia Lee
3319 Humboldt Ave. S.

Incumbent Lee is running for her second term. A retired MPS teacher, she spent 12 years teaching middle school math and five years on special assignment mentoring new teachers “ to become more confident and develop skills quicker and be more successful in schools,” she said. She also worked on middle grade reform and implementation. She holds a Bachelor of Mathematics Education from the U of M.

Lee said her experience as an educator is significant and “rare on many school boards across the country. “I know what’s been tried, I know what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, why they haven’t worked. I know what forward-thinking districts are doing.”

She cited as key issues leadership development — especially of principals “and their ability to understand what quality instruction is” — and welcoming school environments. “For learning to take place, you have to have the right environment, you have to make sure kids feel safe, that they feel like teachers and adults care about them and want them to do well.”

She also said that the MPS needs to “make sure families and parents are our partners.

“There’s this lack of trust and confidence on the part of many, and it’s there for a reason.”

In terms of academics, Lee wants more rigorous high school courses such as Advanced Placement and International baccalaurate certification. At the lower grade levels, she stressed the need to have every child at reading level by third grade and ready for algebra in 8th grade.

The referendum is crucial, she said, noting that $150 million has been cut from the budget in the past eight years. “People say you should be able to educate with the money you have ,and yes you should and we probably can, but … if you really want a high-quality education, you have to pay for it.”

While previous cuts “have been as far away from schools and kids and classes as possible,” she said, “now we’re at a point where class sizes are increasing because there just isn’t anything left to cut.” She said class sizes are problem in some high-demand schools.