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School Board Elections 2013

School Board Elections 2013!!

It is hard to believe that I have been on the school board for four years. I remember when I first started paying attention to the school issues in 2008.  I had just moved to Duluth, I knew nothing about any schools in Duluth, couldn't even find the “new” Central High School site, and knew nothing about the Long Range Facility Plan (aka, Red Plan).  I started watching the school board meetings on TV and was appalled how the other school board members treated member Gary Glass like dirt by being unbelievably rude and crude.  Gary was so calm and never lost his cool, despite the whole rest of the board yelling one derogatory remark after another.  I remember thinking, “How could this be happening in America?”.  Gary later told me that he used to repeat to himself, “Lord forgive them for they know not what they do.”  So I got a hold of Gary and found out that he was a very intelligent man, had a PhD, and was a famous environmentalist in Minnesota.  I started learning, started writing (much of my earlier writings are on this website), and in 2009, ran for the school board and won with a landslide. 

Gary and I thought we had turned the corner and Duluth could be proud of its schools again.  I had campaigned with Tom Kasper, who also won; and sitting member Tim Grover had promised to change the course of the Board if we got a majority.   Unfortunately, Grover refused to meet with us after the election.  And after two meetings of voting with Gary and I, Tom Kasper told me that he didn't want to be on the losing side so was going to start voting with the other side.  That first year was the most amazing, disgusting display of treachery, lies, double crosses, and ignorance that I have ever witnessed.  A member of the public was ordered handcuffed by Grover; citizen’s groups were promised a say and then weren't allowed to speak; member Seligo-Punko ordered me arrested for trespassing when I came to a board meeting.  The Duluth News Tribune refused to report on anything that was going on (and still won’t report on anything of substance, and prints as truth every BS that the administration gives them with no fact checking or any investigation). 

Gary refused to call himself a politician and didn’t run again in 2011.  So I was the lone member for the last two years, the only one that did any discussion and the only one that ever questioned what we were fed.  I used to experiment and not say anything during the meeting and they would last for only half-an-hour, with no discussion by any members.  Democracy in action!!

 You should see the body language of three of the members when I start to talk or even walk in the room!  Their personal dislike of anyone that disagrees with them has caged them in a box of hatred and killed any democratic process. 

All the predictions that Gary Glass and I made six years have come true:  We have lost another 1500 students, we have eliminated 190 teacher positions, we went from $30 million in reserve funds to an estimated $2 million this year and a predicted $1 million next year; we have unacceptable large class sizes (50 kids in some classes); we have cut curriculum;  our test scores are poor; our graduation rates and test scores for minorities are among the worst in Minnesota, which is among the worst in the country; we have raised taxes twice;  the predicted saving haven't materialized; we pull about $8 million a year out of the general fund (the classrooms) to pay for building debts; nearly every by-law we have is regularly violated; laws are twisted to fit whatever whim they have for the day.  We raised the cost of the building plan by another $21 million with no board or media discussion.  And the rest of the board feigns surprise that we have  financial problems and blames Duluthians for being too cheap and not throwing more money at them! 

And to top all that off, we fired our first African American Superintendent in 2011 and we just got done firing an African American principal for no reason at all except that some parents raised a stink about having a Black principal in "their" school.

So we have went backwards, thanks to a mute and subservient school board that keeps their head in the sand, that only does what the [white] Superintendent tells them, and then blames everyone else for every problem and funding crises that occurs--of course they never blame themselves, and consequently, never solve a problem. 

So, I'm running again for the board!  Many people ask me why I do it?   I remember Winona LaDuke in her address to the Citizens in Action seminar a couple years ago:  "We never changed our beliefs, we just changed tactics".    I'm here to represent the people that elected me and to make this school work.  We can't be leaders without a conscience, without honesty, without hard work, and without listening to the people.  None of that goes out of style.

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