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Resume & Questions for 2004 School Board Candidates -- MFT local 59
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004
Local 59, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers
Please provide a brief resume on a separate sheet (submitted by fax after the screening)
U of MN and Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Graduated from the MCTC Practical Nursing program in 1990 with honors (3.51 Grade Point Average on a 4 point scale)
Earned more than 90 quarter credits and completed general education requirements for an associate degree in nursing at MCTC.
Foreign languages (from greatest to least proficient): Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German.
Licensed Practical Nurse since 1991. Currently employed by a home health care agency.
Employed in charge nurse positions in nursing homes from 1992 to 2003. The charge nurse is a team leader. LPNs may not "supervise." However, I did have a duty to monitor the performance of other nursing personnel. [As a charge nurse I played a role in developing, implementing and evaluating plans of care for nursing home residents]
The nurse's role as patient advocate is the ethical basis of decision making, which [in my case] has resulted in ongoing conflicts with management over how to provide safe and effective nursing services.
Former union steward and griever, and [union] bargaining committee delegate.
Have been involved in [union] organizing drives at nursing homes in the Twin Cities and Alabama.
NAACP [Minneapolis Branch] education advocacy committee 1998-1999
Parents Union cofounder, board of directors 1998-2000
Author of "Flight from Equality."
Web site: http://educationright.tripod.com
Questions 1-5, 11-13, and 15 were answered prior to the screening. Answers to questions 6-10, 14, and 16-20 were answered and faxed to local MFT local 59 after the screening.
1. Why are you running for school board?
I want to see school reforms that will close the education achievement gap. [For example] Base instruction for the general student population on a college-bound curriculum and individualized educational planning, not [ability] grouping/tracking.
2. Have you children that are attending public schools? Which schools?
No. I pulled my child out of the Minneapolis Public Schools due to the negative effects of part-time tracking, including failure to thrive academically.
3. What aspects of your background would help make you a good School Board member?
[I was] employed as a charge nurse in health care facilities from 1992-2003. [As a charge nurse I played a role in developing, implementing and evaluating plans of care for nursing home residents. The art of nursing is, in this respect similar to art of teaching].
I was an extremely involved [public school ] parent, member of the Minneapolis NAACP educational advocacy committee in 1998-1999, plaintiff in the NAACP educational adequacy lawsuit. [As an NAACP member I voted against the agreement to settle the educational adequacy lawsuit. In my opinion, the "choice is yours program" program didn't solve the problem: The failure of the state and the Minneapolis public schools to adequately educate a majority of students of all colors who are enrolled in the Minneapolis Public Schools.]
4. What are the most important factors in significantly increasing student achievement?
Effective instruction, which is supported by (or not) staff development programs, support to classroom teachers by specialists, administration, and research and evaluation.
5. What is the relationship between the quality of leadership at a school and the retention of experienced teachers?
The quality of leadership is a very important factor in the retention of experienced teachers. Teaching experience is an important asset for the schools, and effective teachers won't stay at a site if not given proper support.
6. What ideas do you have for cutting costs within the system? Where should funds be focused?
Instruction for the general student population based on a college bound curriculum and individualized educational planning would be more cost effective than part to full time tracking, especially in small schools.
7. What time and funding should be allotted for staff development?
I do not know if current time / funding levels are adequate. I would not recommend any changes before assessing staff development needs. And current approaches to staff development should be examined.
8. What are your ideas for attracting, inducting and retaining new and existing teachers?
I advocate creating temporary positions, with up to 3 year stints for new, inexperienced teachers [in all schools, rather than filling most positions that come open in some schools with inexperienced teachers]. Focus on supporting teaching and evaluating effectiveness of instruction.
9. What is your view of the importance of safety of students and staff in schools and classrooms? What role does the School Board play?
Safety is important. The board is responsible for formulating policy to address safety issues. I do not support "zero tolerance" policies.
10. Should educational assistants have certificates or licenses qualifying them to be assistant educators?
11. What is your position on seniority in case of layoffs or reductions-in-force?
Seniority should be used to determine layoffs, generally last hired, first fired. Allowing the administration to choose on the basis of "merit" is a bad idea, in my opinion. [Merit based layoffs would invite abuses of authority]
12. What changes, if any, would you make in the Public Employee Labor Relations Act (PELRA) or in tenure?
I favor tenure rights for all teachers. "Tenure rights" are simply due process rights [which apply] in the event of a teacher's contract being terminated.
13. Are you willing to levy property taxes to the maximum allowed by the Minnesota Legislature?
Yes, if the district is willing to use an accountability system that is aligned to the goal of "closing the gap" in academic achievement between groups of students identified by race and poverty [eligibility for free or reduced price lunch].
14. What is the responsibility of the Minneapolis School Board to ensure that Minneapolis teachers have a secure pension?
The board should not shirk its duty to fund the pension plan.
15. What is your view of contracting out services to private contractors?
I am for contracting out services only if the district can't get [the work] done by district employees, [in cases where the work is not getting done properly] due to inadequate training (which could be fixed) or to address unusual needs that would be very costly to address by creating a program [operated] by the district.
[At the screening I clarified my position, citing program / employee evaluation as an example of the kind of service the district might need to contract out due to inadequate training (and leadership). I would recommend hiring a consultant with a public education background. A big part of the problem is that the district has relied on advice from consultants with a private sector "business" background.]
16. Would you support a referendum for operating funds?
Maybe. The district administration would need to assist with a review of its budget. I would not support a referendum for operating funds to cover the overhead costs of curriculum tracking.
17. What is your understanding of the union's role in education reform, restructuring, and professional teaching?
I believe the union's chief role should be to defend teachers' rights, contract enforcement. I am against micromanaging the teachers, against "pay-for performance." [And] the union should support teachers [who are] advocating for students.
18. Once the school district and their employees sign a contract of agreement, will you honor the terms of that contract?
Yes. [I publicly opposed board decisions to violate the collective bargaining agreement with the teachers, such as the refusal to pay wage increases linked to step & lane classifications.]
19. What relationship should the School Board have with Local 59? Do you think it is important to building a relationship with Local 59? How should communication be maintained between the two?
The relationship should be based on a commitment to "closing the gap" and improving student performance. The union (local 59) should recognize that conflicts inevitably arise between the administration and teachers who advocate for the students.
20. What endorsements do you have? What endorsements are you seeking?
[I have obtained] no organizational endorsements so far. I have been publicly endorsed by Evelyn Eubanks [who is serving as my treasurer], Alfred Flowers, and I expect to receive endorsements from other current and former NAACP members. [Eubanks, Flowers, Ron Edwards, and others have been expelled from the NAACP for criticizing actions of the current leadership of the NAACP at the local and / or national level.]