Mann for School Board
Green Party Questionnaire
Green Party Questionnaire / Responses by Doug Mann (Minneapolis School board candidate)
9 August 2001
1. Please tell us a little about your past experience and how it might qualify you to be a Green Party candidate for the office for which you are now seeking endorsement.
My goal as a candidate for the Minneapolis Board of Education is to win support for a platform that I believe to be consistent with green values. I hope that the green party will endorse my platform and my candidacy even though I am not a member of the Green Party. I am a socialist and a card-carrying member of the Labor Party. I supported Ralph Nader's campaign for president in 2000. I believe that the Green Party should remain independent of the major capitalist parties (Democrats, Republican and Reform), and that the Green Program is not compatible with the interests represented by those parties.
I am a parent of a ten-year-old child who attended the Minneapolis Public Schools until last year, and now attends a private school. My wife and I are highly dissatisfied with the Minneapolis Public Schools because of its ability-grouping practices, incoherent curricula, ineffective teaching strategies, and "zero tolerance" disciplinary policies.
I am a Licensed Practical Nurse. I attended the U of MN, College of Liberal Arts, and Minneapolis Community and Technical College, where I graduated with honors from the practical nursing program. I have experience as a union shop steward, ad hoc grievance committee chair, and bargaining committee delegate.
Since January 1998 I have been a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. From 1998 to 1999 I served on the K-12 Education Committee of the Minneapolis NAACP branch under the leadership of Leola Seals (branch president) and Catherine Williams (K-12 education chair). During that time I was also a plaintiff in the Xiong v Minnesota / NAACP v. Minnesota (educational adequacy lawsuit).
In 1999 I was active with Northside Neighbors for Justice. NNJ was established by affordable housing advocates and Northside residents to fight for the interests of people who were supposed to benefit from the settlement of what is known as the Hollman lawsuit. The settlement of that lawsuit allowed the city to demolish about 800 dwelling units at a site that straddles Olson Highway on the near North side of Minneapolis, including the Glenwood-Lyndale housing projects (over 900 dwelling units at that site were actually demolished). The settlement also stipulated that those dwelling units be replaced. I opposed the eviction of people from dwelling units in the Glenwood-Lyndale housing projects and the demolition of those units, and advocated the rehabilitation and repopulation of those units until all of the promised replacement units were ready to occupy. The Pulse of the Twin Cities published 3 articles that I wrote about the fight to stop the eviction-demolition process on the near north side in 1999. I also wrote and published a pamphlet titled "The Fight Against Urban Cleansing and Gentrification in Minneapolis," which can be read on-line at the Doug Mann for School Board web site, http://members.tripod.com/educationright
I was a charter member of the Minneapolis Parent Union and served on its board of directors from the time of its formation in the fall of 1998 until the summer of 2000. I resigned from the Parents Union board to give my full attention to establishing a branch of Socialist Alternative in Minneapolis, and to work with the Socialist Alternative branch on the Nader campaign.
I worked closely with members of Socialist Alternative to launch Students for Nader-La Duke 2000, to organize a protest against bio-tech welfare on 30 November 2000, and to launch a campaign against tuition hikes at the U of MN during Spring Semester 2001.
During negotiations between the Minnesota Nurses Association and hospital owners in May 2001, and during the Fairview nurses strike in June 2001, I wrote, printed and distributed 2 statements in support of the nurses demand for safe staffing (one statement before, and the other after the Fairview nurses went on strike). I also spoke at a meeting of the National Association of Letter Carriers, branch 9, to motivate support for the Fairview nurses' strike.
2. What do you hope to accomplish by running for this office?
I hope to win support for a program of adequately educating all students in the Minneapolis Public School system. I consider an adequate education to be the kind of education most people would want for their own children. The Minneapolis Board of Education claims that the district administration is doing everything it can to adequately educate every student, but refuses to address and correct institutional causes of poor academic performance and gross disparities in educational outcomes, such as ability-grouping, incoherent curricula, and a high concentration of inexperienced teachers at schools in poor neighborhoods.
3. What are the main three or four issues of your campaign, and which, if elected, would you focus your efforts on when in office?
I would focus on proposals to eliminate low-ability groupings and curriculum tracks, to adopt a more coherent curriculum for academic subject areas at all grade levels, to desegregate inexperienced teachers, and to extend full appeal rights to non-tenured teachers.
4. The Green Party is based on ten key values: Nonviolence, ecological wisdom, social justice, decentralization, community-based economics, feminism, respect for diversity, personal and global responsibility and future focus. Tell us how you will incorporate each of these values in your positions during your campaign, and if you are elected. Are there any of these values you do not share? If so, which? Please explain why?
As a candidate for a seat on the Minneapolis Board of Education, I am primarily concerned about seeing that every child gets an adequate education, which is consistent with the following key values: Social justice, feminism, and respect for diversity. I prefer nonviolent tactics, but also believe that the oppressed have the right to defend themselves by any means necessary. I support decentralization and community based economics in some contexts, but not others. My notions about personal and global responsibility and future focus are connected with my identity as a member of the working class and my view that the working class needs a party with a socialist program.
5. How would your candidacy and, if elected, your service in office, contribute to the growth of the Green Party of Minnesota.
By endorsing me as a candidate for a seat on the school board, the Green Party of Minnesota might become more attractive to people who are receptive to my platform. I have a definite platform to which I can be held accountable if elected to office.
6. Is there anything in the Green Party state platform with which you disagree?
I couldn't find and review the Green Party State platform at the Minnesota Green Party web site. However, based on my experience with the Green Party, I would expect Green Party State platform to be compatible with the platform that I am running on.
7. Explain your positions on the following subjects, and be as specific as possible: Election reform, Affordable housing, rent control and tenants rights, livable wage, police/community relations, Transportation/city planning, Environmental quality, Airport issues, crime, economic development, and civil rights.
I haven't formulated positions on most of the above-listed subjects since I am concerned about education and school governance. However, I have addressed the issue of affordable housing in articles published in the Pulse of the Twin Cities during 1999.
In my opinion, the city of Minneapolis could greatly reduce, and possibly eliminate the shortage of affordable housing within a few years by making the construction and renovation of affordable housing a priority. No subsidies for corporate office space and baseball stadiums while there is a shortage of affordable housing.
Racial discrimination in the job and housing markets has the effect of concentrating poverty in certain neighborhoods, and has forced a disproportionate number of African-Americans and other people of color into homeless shelters and onto the streets. This problem could be addressed through the enforcement of fair employment and housing laws. This can be done effectively through the use of survey teams and the prosecution of employers, landlords and real estate agents whose discriminatory practices are detected by the survey teams.
8. If you discovered a significant budget surplus, what would you advocate the City Council [School Board] do with it?
Spend a significant portion of it to promote the process of change in school governance that I advocate.
9. Are there any issues that are specific to your ward, and if so, what is your position on these?
10. If you are endorsed, what, if any expectations do you have of the Minneapolis/5th District Green Party regarding your campaign, and if elected, your service in office?
If endorsed, I would expect the Minneapolis Green Party to actively support my campaign. If elected, I would expect ongoing support from the rank-and-file Green Party members, as well as elected officials endorsed by the Green Party. I believe that it will take a massive effort at the grassroots level to affect the kind of basic, systemic change in school governance that is needed to ensure that all children receive a quality, cost-free, public education on an equal basis.