Get to know the School Board candidates: Thomas Dicks


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

Thomas Dicks
3146 W. Calhoun Blvd #207

Dicks’ professional experience includes wargamer and research analyst at the Naval War College; and former substitute and cadre reserve teacher at Washburn High School. He holds a graduate degree in Secondary Education and studied Arabic at the Defense Language Institute.

Dicks said he believes “coming to grips with diversity and establishing a curriculum that deals with that” is the most important challenge facing Minneapolis’ public schools. He advocates more social studies classes to teach the diverse history of the district’s diverse students, and offering more languages such as Swahili.

Dicks also called for more teachers to be hired — in part to teach the aforementioned classes — and more money and attention paid to what he called students’ “inability to separate their private lives from their social lives.” Dicks included gang activity in schools in the category of “private lives.”

Despite his calls for greatly increased expenditures, Dicks called the ballot referendum “bogus,” and an attempt by city and state politicians to avoid increasing baseline taxes to give schools the financial support he believes they need. The politicians “don’t have a sense of day-to-day classroom realities,” he said.

Those politicians include current school board members, he said, describing the district as “the educated [teachers] being dictated to by the uneducated and the indifferent.”

Dicks rejected the notion that every MPS student could be “college ready” by 2020, saying that “kids start to fall off the tracks in third or fourth grade.” He would fight for more early childhood education.

As part of these calls to engage many levels of government and society in the public education system, Dicks said Hennepin County should become very involved in providing student- and family-focused social services, a role they once provided.

Dicks said he hopes to bring a “teacher, classroom and school perspective into the discussion” of education policy.