Louise Seeba is one of St. Paul Public Schools’ two new school board members. Born and raised on the Iron Range, where she was brought up by her single mother and grandparents, today she’s a lawyer for the City of St. Paul, an avid member of the St. Paul Curling Club, the wife of a teacher and the mother of two children in the district. We talked to Seeba about her new position, and how she hopes to contribute to St. Paul Public Schools.
You’re pretty new to this job — what the main issues as you start your position?
I am concerned about the levy this November. In order to implement it, we need the right amount of funding. Another issue is how integration money will be reallocated.
So many education decisions are decided at the state and federal level. How can you make a difference at the local level?
The district has a lobbyist and we all have voices. We’re all voters. As elected officials ourselves, we can have a voice that’s heard at the capital… We are in a crisis for public education.
What are the most important issues for you?
I want to see us able to deliver quality education in each of the zones. I like the idea of each community having a community school, a neighborhood school. We need to change the focus so that every neighborhood has great choices. We’re working towards it. My children go to their neighborhood school. Parent involvement matters.
We need to make sure every child’s achievement increases. Closing the achievement gap is really important. Along with that, we need to make sure everyone has good public schools to attend. That means getting resources to schools and spending them efficiently, and making sure we’re getting a good bang for our buck, and spending the money in the right way.
Any thoughts on the teacher contract negotiations?
Want to contact Louise Seeba?
When teachers and the district and board and parents are on same side, we’ll find out that we all want the same thing. We all want good schools for our children. We might differ on how we get there. But when we get close together, we deliver better education.
What was your education experience, growing up on the Iron Range?
The teachers were dedicated. There was enough funding where I was able to play basketball, be on the math team, the knowledge bowl. There was community involvement. My grandfather went to every basketball game. The community would go and support the school. I had the best calculus teacher ever. I showed up at RPI knowing everything I needed to know.
What has changed between public education when you were growing up and today?
Part of it is public perception. Everyone shines a light on what’s bad about schools. We’ve had an awful lot of successes. The profession of teaching has been under attack. Many people think we can fix education by changing what teachers do.
We have these huge gaps of haves and have-nots. Twenty years ago, public education was chosen by a lot of people. Now people go elsewhere and don’t support public schools.
Do you see a political career in your future?
I’m taking it one step at a time… I hope in the next four years I can make a positive difference and be successful at it. I may do it again.
What do you hope to change?
I’d like to see student achievement increase. What I’ve been trying to do since my kids have been going to school… Certainly a lot of people aren’t going to choose St. Paul Public Schools. The reality has to be that it’s not because it’s not good enough. I want every neighborhood to have a great option.