Again the Minneapolis School Board has an election for November 2006. Many issues are still left over from previous elections, somehow the basic issues are never taken care of. And again we have run through another Superintendent.
A neglected Minneapolis School Board Election issue, Pratt Elementary School has candy and soda machines in the cafeteria, as well as many other schools with vending contracts. The University of Minnesota has many studies showing candy and soda lead to diabetes and obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Minnesota Medical Association, American Dental Association and even the American Beverage Group recommends a ban on soda pop in schools. The Chair of the School Board who approved the vending machines, Joe Erickson, when asked to remove soda and candy machines from the Pratt Elementary School cafeteria to follow school board policy told me he was not the person to ask. He is right, get rid of him. He sells our kids health for money.
Tom Madden is a good candidate, he answered my email, followed up on the issues and talks like a real person. Doug Mann answered my questions, he seems to be responsive. I think Mr Madden would make an excellent board chair.
Pam Costain and Theartrice (T.) Williams never answered in any way about any issues, I do not recommend these two people for any office, much less School Board. In 2003 Pam Costain defended the illegal hiring of David Jennings as superintendent by a previous Board. I am not in favor of illegal actions, this does not bode well as Costain will probably get in as a board member and make a move to be chair.
The Minneapolis School Board closed a dozen schools, it seems that all small neighborhood schools were affected. They are helping the neo-conservatives destroy the public school system in favor of giving public money to the so called "charter schools". Charter schools have virtually no oversite and are run by politically connected thieves like Dave Jennings political buddy Joanne Benson, the former Republican Lt. Governor of Minnesota, who has taken approximately $10 million in public school aid funds, a million dollar loan from St Paul, paid ONE DOLLAR for the former Science Museum of Minnesota building for a fantastic failure of a high school, the Minnesota Business Academy, which tossed out over 25% of its students in 2003-2004 for "problems" including criminal activity. I guess the "problem" students were encouraged by Joanne's Enron-style management which was too busy stealing money instead of watching the students emulate them.
UPDATE: 2006, After another $10 million loan from Republicrat St Paul Mayor Randy Kelly, Joanne's school for scandal closed! Now all she has is about a block of valuable downtown St Paul land with a large building she got for a dollar and that $11 million in cash from St Paul. Boohoo. What will she do with all that land? She will ask her developer friends... and another piece of public property (the former Science Museum) goes private as well as losing $11 million in public "loans" and over 10 million in state student aid.
UPDATE: 2006 Jennings closed a dozen schools, was forced out and went to Chaska suburban schools where he is no doubt selling off public resources to more "business pals".
The Minneapolis School board plans to disrupt the education of thousands of students by concentrating them in large medium security holding facilities and close the small schools. A big side effect is that a DOZEN CLEAN, MULTI-ACRE PROPERTIES will be available for development, many located next to parks and recreation facilities. NOTE: No plan is available to the public for the disposal of these properties. Properties and the expected TIF money to develop them can be estimated in hundreds of millions of dollars. Who profits from the schools selling off the land?
The current school board is responsible for Dave Jennings the former temporary superintendent who has a classic revolving door past. He served as Republican Speaker of the House, Department of Commerce, the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce and some conservative businesses as a "vice president" as his payoff. In the legislature he was a supporter of the public school destroying "charter school" laws that allow substandard facilities, lesser standards, unlicensed staff and lax financial oversite for charter schools to "privatize" public school resources and tax money.
THE BIG PROPAGANDA LIE: The city system is "over capacity at 50,000 students and enrollment is dropping so we must consolidate to larger facilities." The fact is there is more than 50,000 students in Minneapolis, but they are leaving the over-large soul sucking public schools in droves to go to little charter schools.
Many studies show that large institutional facilities make bad education and the public, faced with a choice of smaller schools and classes from subsidized charter schools or massive junior prison facilities will pick the smaller more intimate environment where they have a better chance of participating in their child's education and have a sense of community.
The fact is that low standard "charter schools" are allowed to take the cream of the student crop with no accountability, not having to meet federal "No Child" standards and getting tax breaks, public grants and tax money with the aim of destroying the city public school systems.
This looks like a classic theft of public resources. The competency and ability of school board members is questionable, so out of touch as to try to appoint David Jennings as superintendent illegally. Their own plan of creating large junior prison facilities and closing small schools will destroy the public school system. The destruction of public education is already being plotted by the privatizers, we do not need the school board and staff to help the process.
To respond to the bogus federal "No Child" legislation that will close public schools with fake expensive test standards the school board should make smaller schools that will give better education and be able to respond to fake federal "No Child" closings. The tax money should be managed by the principles, teachers, parents and students, not by a centralized staff of edict spouting managers. This plan will give students and parents better choices that directly compete with the charter alternatives and protect our students from the bogus federal standards by creating small units that can be reconstituted with less disruption to the public system. Do not build large concentration camp style schools that the present school board thinks will solve the phony "excess resource" problem. What happens when the large schools inevitably get bad press or lose funding from clashing with the phony federal "No Child" standards? Mass disruption of public student education from the closing and reorganization of these Attica-Junior Prison facilities. It is "Lord of the Flies" on asphalt when you have 800-1000 K-8 children concentrated in a mass.
Up to a third of the school budget is spent bussing children in yellow transport. A lot busses go to schools that are walkable or are filled with obese older students that could take regular public transportation or get to school on their own power just as private school and charter school students do. Small classes and small schools are more important than driving around in yellow buses to nowhere. There are legitimate transport issues in the schools, so how do you move students? Cooperate with and SUPPORT THE PUBLIC METRO TRANSIT SYSTEM WITH SUBSIDIZED FARES FOR STUDENTS, not destroy public transit systems as well as the public schools with a separate yellow bus system that takes away riders and financially burdens the district.
In Minneapolis and Saint Paul the school boards should use political pressure and lawsuits to FORCE CHARTER SCHOOLS TO HAVE THE SAME HORRIBLE STANDARDS APPLIED TO THEM AS TO THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, including federal "No Child" legislation, financial oversite, staff standards, giant "yellow bus system" obligations, health and safety and accessibility of facilities. When the playing field is equal people will choose the public schools over private-for-profit scam artists.
No more advertising or juice, soda pop and candy in schools. Just ask for money from the corporations, then say thank you. That is preferable to ruining the health of children with candy and soda and making kids stupid with advertising passed off as "educational curriculum." No more selling "candy" or crap. It is getting so bad that the school board tried selling student medical data but ended up getting taken for big money.
How? What? The most recent example was the "National School Fitness Foundation exercise equipment scandal" which was a classic ponzi scheme denounced by the DFL Attorney General Hatch and the Republican State Auditor Anderson. The Minneapolis school district paid over a million dollars for "free" dumbells and other gym equipment. Get a clue school board, when you sold our children we should have received money, not pay it out. The time to get rid of the dead weight and dumbells on the school board and its management staff is long overdue. Joseph Mont Beardall, the exercise equipment scam leader, pled guilty to FRAUD. Funny, everyone who heard of the deal said "crooked", except the school board, David Jennings and the central administration staff. David Jennings actually said that everything was OK until the government started looking at it... One has to wonder where the million came from (about 20 teachers for a year) and where it went... Hookers and blow is my guess, the only question is: who got paid off in the Minneapolis School District 1. And why were the people involved not fired?
What is next? Selling students blood? Selling them as medical experiment subjects? Using them as day labor or like prison labor programs?
As part of civic education and duty, students should not be passed through the school system without the basic tools to function as citizens. Registration to vote is as basic as it gets, virtually every student in high school would be eligible to vote the following November after graduation, yet registration is not done by our public schools. Civic education? Hell, most kids are only educated as well as Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies in the basics of government organization, voter registration is not even taught, much less done. However, the public schools have made sure that student information is given to the military so the kids can be press ganged as AK-47 rifle targets in Iraq. Strange how the public school civic education priorities are arranged, isn't it?
We can transport the entire district, 40,000 students plus staff to the seat of government and demand the money they need. The school board could get the rest of the city and suburban school districts to do the same and shut down the government.
Instead they do the work for the greed heads that are behind the charter school privatization of the public resources. How? By hiring recycled republican hatchet men whose only solutions are to create an institutional system that mimics prisons for the underclass and drive public resources to a bunch of flimflam crony capitalists. In a couple years our public schools will be too weak to defend themselves, stripped of students, public land and public resources. The tax payers will be getting education from a bunch of unregulated, unsupervised, low standard "charter schools". Except for the overclass who will send its children to expensive private schools.
Of the incumbent candidates for the school board I see none that should continue in any public service. Who will give voice and direction to protect and expand public education in the city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota.