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Can voters spank the Minneapolis school board & DFL in November?
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
Another Option for Minneapolis School Board Voters (2004 General Election)
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004

Why I am running as a write-in candidate
by Doug Mann

Subj:      [Mpls] Can voters spank the MPS board & DFL in November?
Date:     9/22/2004 3:51:28 PM Central Daylight Time

In the primary election, much of the protest vote went to the DFL endorsed candidates, Lydia Lee and Peggy Flanagan, who were seen as the best (or least worst) of the candidates who sought the DFL nomination.  They are not incumbents. They say they are for closing the achievement gap. But they haven't said how the gap can be closed. Lee and Flanagan were recruited and groomed as school board candidates by the dean of school board directors, Judy Farmer.

The incumbents, Dennis Schapiro and Sharon Henry Blythe had the support of less than 30% of the voters in a primary election where most voters cast at least one vote for a school board candidate. Their hopes of getting reelected to the board hinge on a large share of voters supporting them as a lesser evil compared to former board member Sandra Miller and David Dayhoff (endorsed by the Republican and Independence parties).

Dayhoff's approach to "fixing" the schools isn't much different from the current board's approach (and quite different from mine). Ditto for Miller.

In response to the news that nearly half of the district's nonwhite and Hispanic seniors were not expected to pass the MBST in 2000, including more than 300 African-American seniors, Sandra Miller, a director of the Minneapolis Board of Education commented:

"It kind of makes my blood boil.  There's a lot of help out there for these students. There's mentoring on every corner.  The district has done everything they can do.  Now it's up to the kids and families [Star-Tribune, Wed., Feb. 9, 2000]."

And this is what Dennis Schapiro wrote on 11/23/2001 as part of an on-line debate with me:

"...and I want to go on record as saying that I don't see it as an evasion of responsibility for school quality by diverting attention to "fixing kids and communities of color."
-The 1966 Coleman Report in its Historical Context, by Doug Mann

The current school board members (and Miller) have implemented solutions to closing the gap that are ineffective and inefficient. For example, the attendance policy approved in 1999 and fully implemented in 2001 and 2001-2002 dramatically improved attendance rates (initially), but did not produce corresponding
gains in academic achievement, it drove down student enrollment (and associated revenues), and it increased administrative costs (to enforce the policy).

In my opinion there are conditions in the schools that produce a huge academic achievement gap, especially the high concentration of inexperienced teachers in poor performing schools (just a coincidence?), and a tracking / ability-grouping system that begins in Kindergarten. I propose distributing probationary teachers (employed for 3 years or less) evenly throughout the district and not laying off anyone unless their job is actually being eliminated (which will reduce teacher turnover and burnout), and by phasing out "low-ability"
tracking and grouping.

The candidates on the ballot in November do not offer an alternative to business as usual for the Minneapolis Public Schools. That is why I am staying in the race as a write-in candidate.

Support school reforms designed to close the gap without holding back the high achievers! Vote for a candidate who proposes solutions that can work, if given the chance.

Related news report and commentary

2004 Primary election results

Voting patterns / 12 reasons to NOT vote for Doug Mann