Our School Board, Our Voice: 2015 Saint Paul Public Schools Board of Education Voter Guide

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This candidate survey—complete with information about the candidates and candidate answers to questions on issues of national and local importance—is your opportunity to learn more about the candidates, think deeply about your decision and make your vote and voice heard.

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Content

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE
2015 Saint Paul Public Schools Board
Voter Guide

October 2015

Minnesota

Contents

About This Election and This Guide

3

Candidates at a glance

4

Q1 Deciding to run

5

Q2 Priorities

7

Q3 Role of a school board member

9

Q4 Challenges teachers face

11

Q5 Opportunity gaps

13

Q6 Testing

15

Q7 Racial equity

17

Q8 Inclusion practices

19

Q9 Cultural competency and racial equity training

21

Q10 Teacher diversity

23

About Educators 4 Excellence

25

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

2

About This Election and This Guide

School board elections help determine the future
of our district. Make an informed vote to help
shape your classroom and your career.
When and How to Vote
Tuesday, November 3, 2015

General Election Day

You will have the choice of voting for up to four people for at large seats.
Learn more about how and where to vote from the Ramsey County Board of Elections website at
https://www.co.ramsey.mn.us/elections/VoterInfo.htm. If you’re not registered to vote, you may register on Election Day at your polling place.

About the Saint Paul Board of Education and this election
The Saint Paul Board of Education, or school board, is responsible for the care, management and control of the school district. All seats for the school
board are elected at-large across the city. This election, you may vote for up to four candidates.

How We Engaged the Candidates


The questions contained in this voter guide reflect education
policy issues being debated locally and nationally and were
developed with input from educators who live and/or work
in St. Paul.



All candidates who filed with the Ramsey County election
office were invited to complete the survey.



All candidates received the candidate survey by email. Candidates who responded within the guidelines presented have
their responses printed within this guide.



All candidates were informed that they had a limit of 200 words to
respond to each question. To ensure fairness, only responses to the
survey questions were included. Any responses exceeding the word
limit were cut at exactly the 200th word. Candidates who did not
submit responses are noted accordingly.



All responses in this guide are printed exactly as written by the
candidates, without edits for content or clarity. The responses submitted solely reflect the opinions of each individual candidate and
not of Educators 4 Excellence. Educators 4 Excellence transmits the
responses without any knowledge, actual or constructive, regarding
their truthfulness.

About Educators 4 Excellence
Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) is a teacher-led organization working to elevate the teaching profession and increase student achievement by
ensuring that educators have a meaningful voice in decisions that impact their classrooms and careers.

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

3

Candidates At a Glance

School Board Candidates at a Glance

The responses expressed herein solely reflect those of the individual candidates and not of Educators 4 Excellence.
Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Current job title/occupation

Race/
Ethnicity

Gender

Have you been a
teacher?

Trying Not Be Retired; Public Administration,
former City Manager of Maplewood; Contract
Monitor, Job Training Partnership Act Council;
Deputy Director, Community Action Agency;
Newspaper Education Reporter

White

Male

Instructor of Christian
Conformation

Licensed teacher/ Montessori director and
consultant. Currently working as an early
childhood consultant for a startup preschool and
permaculture in a remote village in Sierra Leone.

White

Female

Yes. I am an
experienced urban
teacher

Steve Marchese

Pro Bono Director, Minnesota State Bar
Association / Attorney

White

Male

No

Scott Raskiewicz

Writer (author of the book “ECONOMIC
DEMOCRACY: Ending the Corporate Domination
of Our Lives”) and semi-retired tennis
teaching professional

Other:
Human

Male

Yes

Jon Schumacher

Executive Director, Saint Anthony Park
Community Foundation

White

Male

No

Private Contractor with the National Children’s
Oral Health Foundation

White

Female

No

Name
Aaron Benner^

Greg Copeland

Zuki Ellis*

Linda Freeman

Keith Hardy*,i

Mary Vanderwert

incumbent
* These candidates did not submit a response to the questionnaire.
^ This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

i

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

4

Q1

What inspired you to run for SPPS
school board?

The opinions expressed herein solely reflect those of the individual candidates and not of Educators 4 Excellence. Candidates are listed in
alphabetical order, including those who did not complete the survey.

Aaron Benner^

Zuki Ellis*

This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Greg Copeland

Linda Freeman

Two Primary factors: 1)The opportunity to make a change in the
direction of the Lame Duck School Board. 2) The need, to hire a new
Superintendent of Schools due to the poor performance record over
nearly five years of Valeria Silva.

Our schools are in an optimal position to empower our children and
families with hope and opportunities. The school board is in an optimal
position to assure these opportunities reach all our children, and I am
prepared to actively serve our district, through my early childhood
and elementary teaching experience and Montessori training, plus my
willingness to make necessary time for school board activities.

The single most important decision any School Board makes is whom
it hires as Superintendent. The collective responsibility to determine the
Superintendent’s retention or non-renewal belongs to the Board, but in
Saint Paul that authority was usurped by three Board Members who
will not be accountable to the public for even one day of Silva’s service
under the new contract they supported. These three put up half the votes,
and the other three incumbents, not on the ballot this year, put up the
other three votes of the six cast in favor of a New Silva Contract with a
4% boost in pay and lifetime health insurance!
The March 17, 2015 Lame Duck School Board decision to grant a new
three year contract to Superintendent Silva was a breach of institutional
trust. Political expediency, once again, beat out democratic process,
community trust and fiduciary duty owed Saint Paul voters. Given that
only one incumbent is seeking re-election in the

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

5

Keith Hardy*,i

Jon Schumacher

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Our kids. I’m running because our school community has to come
together to give our kids the education they deserve. I am a community
builder with a background in board governance and mediation. I
want to bring the skills, experience, and relationships I’ve built over
my 23 years working with our schools and city, to develop a more
collaborative approach that leverages the talents, passion and expertise
of our school communities. I can help bring people together to rebuild
trust, find consensus solutions and develop the sustainable foundation
needed to transform these solutions into successful outcomes for all of
our amazing students.

Steve Marchese

Mary Vanderwert

As a parent and school volunteer, I’ve watched the central administration
take decision-making authority away from schools and bring it to the
central office, leaving educators, families and staff with little influence
over what happens in their own buildings. Time and again, the
administration with the support of the current board has pursued a
well-intentioned effort to increase educational equity only to have
that agenda undermined by poor communication and questionable
administrative decisions

I want every family in Saint Paul Public Schools to have the great
experience that my family had. As an educator I want to support
teachers so they can help families achieve their educational goals and
see their children thrive. I believe quality Public Schools are the critical
to our city’s future success and viability.

I believe we need a more inclusive, transparent and effective district
that involves families, educators, staff and community members as
partners in improving our schools and reducing opportunity gaps in our
community. We need clear goals, objectives and strategies for improving
achievement. We also need an independent school board that holds the
superintendent and administrators accountable for both their promises
and their performance. I believe I have the ^pprofessional and personal
experience to bring thoughtful, strategic and pragmatic leadership to
the St. Paul Public Schools Board

I have spent my entire 25-year career working with young children and
their families in early childhood education, most of the time in Head
Start and programs locally and at the at the Minnesota Department
of Education as the Head Start State Collaboration Director. I also
managed the child care programs at the Wilder Foundation for five
years. My experience in early childhood education would be unique on
the School Board.
I raised three children as a single parent. I understand how decisions
are made in families when there is limited time and even more limited
resources, and how important schools are to families in reaching their
goals and dreams.

Scott Raskiewicz
As a social worker, substance abuse counselor, coach, tennis teaching
professional, and for seventeen years, a substitute teacher in the St.
Paul schools I have worked with youth for over forty years. I understand
education and its importance in developing an authentically democratic
society that works for EVERYONE. Furthermore, as a writer and
philosopher focusing on the political economy and human development
I understand why the American education system (and society) works for
some but not all. I also understand why political and economic leaders
deliberately underfund education and try to turn education into a joyless,
one size fits all, dehumanizing, technology and testing based system
that does little more than serve a deeply inhumane and antidemocratic
status quo. I am running for school board to use my knowledge and
experience to focus on the ROOT CAUSES of the problems facing
education and our society and to pursue solutions to those problems.

incumbent
* These candidates did not submit a response to the questionnaire.
^ This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

i

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

6

Q2

If you were to win this election, what would be
the first three priorities you would take on as
board member? Why?

The opinions expressed herein solely reflect those of the individual candidates and not of Educators 4 Excellence. Candidates are listed in
alphabetical order, including those who did not complete the survey.

Aaron Benner^

Zuki Ellis*

This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Greg Copeland

Linda Freeman

2.1 Hire a new Superintendent to decentralize District administration
and embrace an Empowerment Model of School Site Councils where
parents, faculty and guidance staff take responsibility for developing
priorities with the principal, that places Student academic growth at the
heart of each school’s mission as resource allocations are made.



2.2 Redirect dollars that funded former Central Office Administration
functions to Direct School allocation for hiring new guidance counselors,
based on one guidance counselor for every 250 students (currently
1:435) to develop with parents, teachers, support staff and the Student,
an Individual Education Plan to be monitored and amended as changes
in academic progress and personal goals take place. Reduce allocations
under the current budget model of District and School Support Services
that now accounts for 51% of SPPS General Fund spending that
places an annually increasing majority of funds in Direct Allocations
to Schools. Dollars should follow the Student, especially with regard to
poor students whose educational instruction experience is supposed to
be supplemented by services purchased using $20 Million in Federal
Title I funds and $70 Million in MN Compensatory Funds.
2.3 Eliminate Silva’s ‘School Attendance Zones’ and provide Students
with transportation to the school of their Parents Choice.



A new early childhood education model that is age appropriate 3-6 year-olds, and incorporates Montessori principles. I’d like to
see this implemented as a universal early childhood program. A
sound foundation is essential for student success.
Closing the achievement gap and increasing opportunities with a
focus on racial disparities. Why? Education is a right all our
children must have access to, and it is our responsibility to assure
we provide it. We should wisely prioritize school needs to function
within the available budget.

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

7

Keith Hardy*,i

Jon Schumacher

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

First, we need to take an honest look at our schools, evaluate what’s
working so we can build on it, and prioritize our budget to support those
classroom successes. Together, we need to develop well thought-out
strategies to address the challenges we face, especially around issues of
equity, communicate them clearly to everyone, and manage a structured
implementation.
Second, we have to re-engage and rebuild trust – among students,
educators, parents, and administrators. The Board must set the
expectation and tone of collaboration for all District members and we
must open the lines of communication to engage parents as true partners
in their children’s education.
Third, we need to work to ensure adequate classroom support for
students and teachers. I have heard from too many teachers that we
don’t have enough support in the classroom to meet their students’
needs, particularly for EBD, SPED, and ELL students – and this affects the
success of all of our students. In addition, we need to take more
responsibility for preparing our graduating seniors for post-secondary
pathways to success.

Steve Marchese

Mary Vanderwert

1) We need a more independent, active school board committed to
representing the public’s interest and holding district administrators
accountable for results.

Support Teachers in building relationships: Improve the culture of the
schools to one that is collaborative, creative, supportive and exciting;
one that values the contributions of staff and provides them with a voice
in decision-making.

2) The district needs to do a much better job of engaging all stakeholders
in the work of our schools. Parents, educators, staff and community
members all have a stake in the St. Paul Public Schools. We need district
leadership committed to transparency and open input as part of all
major decisions.
3) The district needs to address inequities within our schools, as well
as develop a focused commitment to excellence for all students. Every
family should be able to believe their children can receive a top-notch
education in a St. Paul school regardless of location. Unfortunately, that
is not so today.

Parent Engagement: Provide a greater focus on supporting and
engaging families with children in the schools.
Mental & Physical Health Services: Provide systems and strategies that
will improve the overall physical and mental health of students, and
improve the health literacy of families and staff.

Scott Raskiewicz
My first priority would be to focus on the ROOT CAUSES of the problems
facing education and our society i.e. inhumane and antidemocratic
economic and political systems supported by a corporate cartel that
controls all major media. These system are designed and function
to concentrate wealth and power into the hands of a morally and
intellectually corrupt ruling class and their collaborators while causing
the rest of us to struggle and suffer needlessly. Focusing on ROOT
CAUSES is the best way to prevent and solve problems.
Secondly, I will work to reduce class sizes. This will help end the
dehumanizing assembly-line approach to education that is failing
students and society.
Third, I support a richer, more diverse, human centered curriculum with
ample opportunity for the humanities, arts, fitness, and social interaction.
I want every student to remember, as I do, school as among the most
joyful and meaningful experiences of one’s life. Growing up if struggle
for everyone but schools must become a safe and joyful harbour that
helps everyone succeed with that struggle.

incumbent
* These candidates did not submit a response to the questionnaire.
^ This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

i

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

8

Q3

What do you see is the role of school board
member? How will you effectively fulfill that
role and strengthen the school board?

The opinions expressed herein solely reflect those of the individual candidates and not of Educators 4 Excellence. Candidates are listed in
alphabetical order, including those who did not complete the survey.

Aaron Benner^

Zuki Ellis*

This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Greg Copeland

Linda Freeman

School Board Members make District policy, hire the Superintendent
and in an area of special interest to me, work with the State Legislature
to tell the District’s story too. Legislators to increase District funding and
support state policies that enhances the education of SPPS Students.

My role as a school board member will be to manage and direct district
policies and initiatives, and establish clear accountability and metrics
for district staff.

The Board must restructure its meetings and processes to include parents,
faculty and the larger community on the front end of policy making.
Eliminate the Committee of the Board meeting. Hold two monthly
regular meetings, workshop meetings as required and broadcast them
all on Cable-TV. All District Advisory Committee Meetings should also
be televised, as should all formal public hearings and meeting held
outside the Board Room at individual schools.
The Board should return public comment to the agenda of the Regular
Meeting. Public comment should welcomed by the Board as it is
discussing the individual business items as they appear on the agenda.
The rendering of public comment outside of and before the Regular
Meeting must be ended. All public comment should be heard during the
Board meeting and Cable TV broadcast to the public.

I’ll be part of the critical link that connects policy and the public. I
will listen, reach out, ask questions, and dialogue. I’m prepared to be
advised and work collaboratively with other board members to build
concensus, establish goals and policies, and seek accountability. I seek
imagination along with strategic planning in developing and piloting
scientifically based, creative initiatives.
I’ll keep our children’s education in the forefront of our decisions,
beginning with the communities’ views on their children’s needs.
My background as a licensed teacher and a Montessori director/
consultant, experience with second language learners, an early
childhood initiative on a remote reservation, in disadvantaged
communities, and as a support teacher working with children with IEP’s
in an inclusion model will serve to strengthen the school board.

The Board should also initiate Legislative Action to eliminate city-wide
School Board Elections, and establish School Board Elections by
OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

9

Keith Hardy*,i

Jon Schumacher

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

I believe the board has a responsibility to ensure that open pathways of
communication exist so the voices of all members of our community are
heard and responded to in a timely manner. The board has ultimate
authority and accountability for the superintendent’s performance and
must provide clear expectations. I will work to set the expectation for a
detailed, prioritized blueprint for success for all of our students; a well
thought out and actionable implementation process; a transparent,
effective and ongoing evaluation process to determine how that
implementation is working; and a strategy for adjusting and tailoring
the plan to meet the evolving needs of our students.

Steve Marchese

Mary Vanderwert

The School Board is responsible for setting the overall goals and
direction of the district, hiring and oversight of the superintendent,
engaging with and representing the public (including families,
students, educators and the community at large) and advocating
for the needs of the district’s students. The Board has the primary
responsibility for establishing strategic goals and holding the senior
administration accountable for results.
In addition, the Board
should be the focal point for rallying the larger community to help
accomplish major initiatives, such as reducing achievement disparities.
I expect my duties to include the following:

I expect to:
• Define the organizational culture we want in our schools.
• Communicate our (the Board’s) vision and expectations to the
Superintendent and school leadership.
• Provide supervision, guidance and support to the Superintendent
and hold her accountable to meet the goals articulated by the
Board.
• Ensure that policies and procedures promote equal access and
voice for all stakeholders and students.
• Determine significant policy issues for the school district that ensure
the desired culture and student outcomes are achieved.
• Develop and approve a budget that reflects the priorities/goals of
the District.
• Listen to and respond appropriately and transparently to the
community, parents, staff and teachers when concerns or ideas are
presented.
• Keep abreast of the latest research and new ideas related to
education.








Meetings with administrators, key staff and other board members
On site visits to schools and engagement with staff, families and
students
Periodic listening session to assess community needs and school
performance
Coordinated meetings with local and state government
representatives
Review of district performance and budget information in
preparation for meetings
Availability for media regarding district needs and priorities

Scott Raskiewicz
We all know the basic role of the school board – to help schools run
more effectively, efficiently, and fairly. I believe that role must expand
to include addressing the ROOT CAUSES of problems. For instance,
the school boards of our nation must join together to lead the fight for
something long overdue in America – a universal Single-payer health
care system based on corporate and individual accountability. Nearly
a third of American health care spending is taken by corporate profit,
exorbitant executive salaries, administrative costs higher than anywhere
else in the world, and, in general, an approach centered on corporate
profit rather than human health. This approach takes tens of billions
of dollars away from socially beneficial uses such as education.
Similarly, school boards must all for an end to the “War on Drugs.”
This war is fought mostly against poor people of color. Like the health
care system this war wastes tens of billions of dollars yearly that could
be used for positive purposes, like education, rather than negative
purposes like locking up human beings, many of whom are non-violent
“drug offenders.”

incumbent
* These candidates did not submit a response to the questionnaire.
^ This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

i

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

10

Q4

What do you see as a main challenge that
teachers face, and how do you plan to
advocate for them, or help them with this
challenge? What role do you see teachers
playing in designing and developing
district policies?
The opinions expressed herein solely reflect those of the individual candidates and not of Educators 4 Excellence. Candidates are listed in
alphabetical order, including those who did not complete the survey.

Aaron Benner^

Zuki Ellis*

This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Greg Copeland

Linda Freeman

School Discipline has been a growing area of complaint from teachers
as the SPPS classroom’s academic focus has been disrupted during the
Silva era: 6th grade to Middle, Mainstreaming Special Education and
English Language Learners, and Millions spent on Race Training, while
Teachers and Aides were given layoff notices. Principals are responsible
for their individual school, and the New Superintendent will have to
hold principals accountable for maintaining a secure, healthy and
safe learning environment. Classroom teachers are not police, are not
principals, and should not bear the burden for student discipline.

The main challenge teachers face is the time and/or ability to document
routine observations and assessments.
The documentation and
assessments guide our teaching and our consultations with specialists
and volunteer coordinators.
This requires additional classroom staffing and professional development.
I will welcome input from teachers. I expect that a channel already
exists for teacher input. If it does not exist, we need to build one.

Classroom teachers should be driving academic achievement, ideas
for innovations in teaching, and expanding the students academic
growth and experiences driving student curiosity for independent
learning. Support for these professional roles of teachers to advance
in their careers as successful academic leaders, the District should take
advantage of the staff development funds SPPS has been leaving on the
table for a decade; Quality Compensation, Q-Comp. The Board must
act to work with the SPFT Union, and the MN Department of Education
to develop an approved Q-Comp Plan to tap these Millions of dollars to
benefit our teachers and ultimately our students academic growth.
My previous recommendations under #3.

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

11

Keith Hardy*,i

Jon Schumacher

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Our teachers are being held responsible for unlocking the potential in
all of our students without adequate support or voice. I will advocate for:






Staffing our schools with the professionals needed to support
our students’ diverse physical and mental health needs. I am a
proponent of full-service schools and will urge a strategy of staged
implementation to increase our numbers of schools with these wraparound services.
Decreasing the importance of high stakes testing so our teachers
can spend more time ensuring our students achieve grade level
competency.
Smaller class sizes so our educators can build relationships with
our students and their parents/caregivers to truly understand their
potential and challenges to learning.
Increased teacher training with an emphasis on effective and
practical tools for the classroom.

The teacher-student relationship is the heart and soul of any successful
learning approach. Our teachers need to play a central role in
designing both strategies and implementation. They also can help to
create opportunities to collaborate with parents and students to provide
and receive information that can lead to better outcomes for students.

Steve Marchese

Mary Vanderwert

Teachers face competing demands to educate a broad range of students
without a lot of the necessary supports (staff, curriculum, etc.) to get the
job done. They do this work in an environment that places an extreme
focus on standardized assessments as measures of student learning and
teacher effectiveness. I believe we need to spend more time listening
to how classroom teachers do their work in both the planning and
execution of district initiatives. One example would be in enhancing
the role of teachers, along with parents and building administrators, in
site-based planning.

There are many issues confronting the Saint Paul Public Schools. Our
students have more serious and diverse needs. Many of them are living
in low income or poverty and all of the social ills that come with that.
Many of them are learning two languages. Many have experienced
trauma in their lives. Many have disabilities – developmental, emotional
and physical. Many have health issues and limited access to services.
And many children are very talented and require more challenge in
their education. Meeting the needs of all students with a limited budget
and many regulations from the state and federal governments is very
challenging.

As a board member, I would need to meet with teachers on a regular
basis at schools throughout the district. Having a solid working
relationship with SPFT leadership would also be a means of soliciting
teacher input and obtaining feedback on the district’s work. The most
essential relationships my children and all SPPS students have with the
adults in their building are with their classroom teachers. They needed
to be treated with respect and given support, even as we ask them to
work in challenging environments.

These challenges require leadership that is visionary, responsive and
effective in bringing all of the stakeholders along when changes need
to be made. We need to look at ways to leverage community resources,
seek new resources and advocate for changes in regulations. We all
have to work together to find the solutions that will work in Saint. Paul.

Scott Raskiewicz
The main challenge teachers face is society degraded by the moral and
intellectual incompetence and indifference of the ruling class and their
collaborators. America spends almost as much as the rest of the world
combined on what Eisenhower warned us about nearly 55 years ago –
the military industrial complex. And yet we can’t find money to reduce
class sizes and offer a richer, more diverse, curriculum. Even worse, of
the millions of people who have died in America’s imperialistic wards
since WW II about 90% have been civilians. This is madness and
inhumanity on a massive scale, all financed by our tax dollars.
Teachers also are challenged by the fact that so many youth (and adults)
are mesmerized and even addicted to a gadget filled pop culture that
debases our humanity and hinders us from pursuing higher goals such
as education and living in harmony with the natural world and everyone
in it.
These two challenges, combined with an economy that causes so much
poverty and suffering, leaves teachers in a very difficult situation. The
best way to help teachers is to work for a fairer, more humane and
democratic economy and society.

incumbent
* These candidates did not submit a response to the questionnaire.
^ This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

i

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

12

Q5

Children of color in St. Paul experience
dramatic disparities in education as
evidenced by multiple academic, social, and
emotional indicators. In your view, what are
the root causes of these gaps? Furthermore,
what do you believe is the board’s role in
closing opportunity gaps in our community?
The opinions expressed herein solely reflect those of the individual candidates and not of Educators 4 Excellence. Candidates are listed in
alphabetical order, including those who did not complete the survey.

Aaron Benner^

Zuki Ellis*

This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Greg Copeland

Linda Freeman

The real path to cultural diversity at SPPS is to focus on hiring academic
leaders as diverse as the student body. A partial barrier is a shortage of
home grown talent of people of color from our Colleges and Universities.
However, the lack of affirmative grooming of the talent we do have is
the first place to begin to work with our Minnesota graduates who want
to enter teaching or counseling, but have multiple barriers which they
need help to take down to break free of poverty and low wage jobs
they are forced to take while attempting to gain entry the Education
Professions. In speaking with applicants who have had trouble passing
the MN Licensing Tests, who are working on re-taking the tests, there are
financial barriers; testing fees and prep courses. These applicants would
benefit from the District stepping in to ask the State to eliminate, reduce,
defer fees and other costs, as well as improving the breath of the test
preparation course content to be serve all applicants.

Children of color have had historical experiences of oppression and
exclusion. Current objective data points to insufficient income, unhealthy
environments and inadequate access to opportunities.
The Board’s role in closing opportunity gaps in our community is
promoting equal opportunity in education. Administration, teachers and
support staff must have an understanding of the diverse backgrounds
and needs of all the children. We must identify individual student needs,
provide learning opportunities specific to those needs, and provide
achievement goals leading to post secondary success.

There are road blocks at The Board of Teaching which Governor
Dayton is going to have to use his executive authority to open the door,
if we are to

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

OUR VOICE

13

Keith Hardy*

Jon Schumacher

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

I believe there are numerous factors involved in the opportunity gaps,
including the significant barriers to learning faced by our students,
including learning disabilities, inability to self-regulate, physical and/or
emotional health challenges, high mobility, housing instability, poverty,
homelessness and the effects of institutionalized racism.
AS previously stated, I support the idea of full service schools where
academics, youth development, family support, health and social
services, job-training, and community development are housed together.
Our district has two Achievement Plus Schools where this is starting. We
need to work with our city, county, non-profit and business partners to
create more of these wrap-around service opportunities for our families.
I believe our district’s policy on racial equity and the overall strategic
vision for closing the achievement gap represent a promising start. I
would work to ensure our curriculum reflects an accurate and balanced
reflection of all cultures. Every school has to provide regular access to
art, music and physical activity that celebrates and respects all cultures.
We also need to create a stronger system of community engagement,
making educators and parents full partners in the education of our
children. Finally, we need to set expectations for measurable progress
in decreasing racial disparities.

Steve Marchese

Mary Vanderwert

The achievement gaps reflect disparities in our city and society – income,
family structure, housing, employment, safety and, most significantly,
race and ethnicity. The reasons are many and complex. Some children
don’t get early childhood care necessary for them to begin school
prepared and ready to learn. Some children come from families under
stress which affects how they are able to learn and thrive in school.
Schools use curricula often predicated on white, professional/middle
class norms – and some students don’t learn in ways that fit well with
them. A mostly white teaching staff brings with it their own racial norms
and preconceptions of children of color. Finally, our teachers often lack
the resources, support and flexibility to meet individual needs.

Children from communities of color and communities with very low
income have fewer opportunities for learning experiences in their lives
because of a lack of money. Low income communities have less access
to healthy, fresh food, safe housing and health care. There are fewer
parks for physical activity and little exposure to nature. Access to health
care is limited and mental health services. They have fewer books
and words in their lives. And for too many, there is more exposure to
violence, adult language and other negative influences.

The board must be connected to the community, committed to closing the
gap and willing to set expectations for administrators, staff and students.
The board should set a defined number of clearly articulated goals and
outcomes for the district with the expectation that the board will hold staff
accountable for progress. Decisions on staffing, curriculum, resources,
etc. should be in alignment with these goals. If something isn’t working,
we look at why and decide how or what needs to change.

Parents living in poverty are busy working two or more jobs or have
mental illnesses or other issues that keep them from being supportive of
their children or to be involved in their children’s schools. Consequently
there is less opportunity for early childhood education for too many of
our poorest children. When these children enter the schools they are not
prepared for what awaits.
Too many of our children have lost hope. From what they can tell there
is no point is working hard in school because their future will look very
much like their past. They have seen their parents or siblings incarcerated
and that is what they expect will happen to them. When they

Scott Raskiewicz
I have indirectly addressed that question above. More specifically,
people of color have never been fully valued or integrated into American
society. People of color tend to trail whites in virtually every measure
of well-being. The achievement gap is a reflection of that reality. It is
absolutely the role of the school board to address the ROOT CAUSES
of the achievement gap by advocating for a full employment economy
based on cooperative and public utility economics and a universal
Single-payer health care system that eliminates the non-productive,
wealth-stealing middle-men, i.e. health insurance companies. And
to complete the answer to question four, the school board must allow
teachers a greater role in designing and developing district policies.
America is a very hierarchical society, top heavy with largely nonproductive administrators. Teachers, as a group, understand education
and should be given a greater role, along with parents and students,
in designing district policy. Administrators and self-serving “experts”
should play a smaller role.

incumbent
* These candidates did not submit a response to the questionnaire.
^ This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

i

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

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14

Q6

What role do you believe testing should
play in measuring outcomes for students in
St. Paul? What other measures would you
evaluate as a Board member to determine
whether students are being well-served in
their schools?
The opinions expressed herein solely reflect those of the individual candidates and not of Educators 4 Excellence. Candidates are listed in
alphabetical order, including those who did not complete the survey.

Aaron Benner^

Zuki Ellis*

This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Greg Copeland

Linda Freeman

I am no fan of standardized testing, and the debate will continue, but
so will the testing. The short term goal at least should be to embrace
the MCA and beat the test, by creating an academic growth program
in SPPS that grounds our students in the basic math and reading skills
needed to be successful not for test, but for their life and education plan
each student has set for themselves. SPPS has the resources, but must
make academic growth the first priority; SPPS Students Will Do Better.
The new cooperative engagement from Day One with students, parents,
faculty and guidance counselors to create and monitor student academic
growth plans will be critical to students being successful individually and
as a cohort. School attendance, community and business engagement,
foundation support, and a decline in children being penalized due to
misbehavior, should all be used as indicators, but we, SPPS, will not
escape the Legislative mandated indexes we all know the District has
not yet mastered. Any more or new standards will only exist along side
the existing test standards, not replace them, at least in the short term.

The role of testing is to provide a necessary indicator of individual
student outcome. Agregate results will be used for comparative
evaluation of achievement by groups of interests. (ie., culture, language,
race, community, etc.), Other measures that I would evaluate are
documentation of absences and suspensions, dropout rates and
ultimately graduation rates. Also, teacher and student retention.
We do need to gather data to inform our decisions, yet testing has
come to dominate and interfere with our children’s education. Students
have become unwilling subjects of data gathering rather than recipients
of opportunity and education. Data gathering should not interfere
with their school day and should be used in conjunction with regular
observation that immediately guides lessons and learning concerns.

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

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15

Keith Hardy*,i

Jon Schumacher

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

We need to work with the Department of Education to find ways to better
align our large standardized tests with our evolving understanding of
what constitutes achievement. Our district’s vision for racial equity calls
for culturally responsive assessment and I believe there is a sound case
to be made that the MCAs contain content that might be unfamiliar or
unfair to students of color, recent immigrants, or students with learning
disabilities.
Unfortunately, high stakes testing has also caused teaching to the test as
opposed to teaching critical thinking skills. Overreliance on standardized
testing takes away valuable learning time from the classroom and has
reduced art, music and other alternative learning opportunities in favor
of core classes. Our students need a well-rounded education and
multiple opportunities to thrive and find their own passions.
I would support more use of frequent but smaller tests that help teachers
understand competency on a daily and weekly basis so they can
target their learning approaches in an ongoing and timely manner.
Standardized test results can help inform decisions about staffing and
schools, but should be analyzed in context with other information,
especially from building staff.

Steve Marchese

Mary Vanderwert

As a parent, I have seen first-hand the amount and extent standardized
testing takes up time in the school year, in lesson planning and in the
consciousness of students. As a board member, I would look for ways
for administrators to de-emphasize the importance of standardized test.
I would like to see lesson planning that addresses the concepts and
content students should learn and less emphasis on test taking techniques
and rote memorization. In addition, I would advocate for having the
district use multiple methods for helping students learn content to be
tested - for example, through music and art programming.

Standardized testing has worked really well for corporate interests but
has not served children, families or teachers very well. They have forced
teachers into delivering a curriculum and establishing an agenda that is
not what they were trained for or believe in. When preparation for testing
becomes the focus of our education system, we lose the opportunity to
prepare children with the other skills they need to be successful in life.
Instead of memorization and formulaic problem solving, we should be
teaching our children how to interact appropriately with others, how to
think critically, how to solve problems creatively and collaboratively and
how to lead others and manage time.

That said, testing requirements originate at the state level. The district
still must comply with state mandates and standards. In addition, I
believe we need to have regular measurements of progress to determine
whether students are meeting learning goals. We also need to document
how well different student populations are learning in our schools so
that we can target resources and offer relevant instruction. Graduation
rates, enrollment rates (year over year), PSEO/advanced course
enrollment numbers and measurements on other evaluation mechanisms
(e.g., AP scores) could also be helpful in evaluating the district’s service
to students.

While we need a way to determine a child’s progress, I don’t believe
that testing measures the kind of progress we are most interested in
promoting. I would support advocate for a way of determining a child’s
progress that is appropriate for the age of the child, is conducted daily
and is used to determine the direction of the curriculum.

Scott Raskiewicz
In Finland, a world leader in education, there is no standardized testing
until students apply for college. Reducing the role of dehumanizing
standardized testing is critical to improving American education. The
main reason these tests exist is to enrich testing companies. These tests
also exist because they are written to ensure that many students will
do poorly. That provides a reason for those who seek to profit from
privatizing public education to claim they will do a better job of
educating students, a claim that has been proven false over and over
again.
Instead of standardized tests, I favor an individual and group project
based approach to education. Student progress is better evaluated
by student essays, debates, art work, the writing and performing of
plays and music, making documentaries about critical issues of the day,
community projects, and other hands on approaches that will engage
the whole child. I support testing of students but these test should be
prepared by teachers, not some out of state testing company that cares
only about profits and cares nothing about education or students.

incumbent
* These candidates did not submit a response to the questionnaire.
^ This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

i

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

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16

Q7

Speaking specifically to racial equity, how
will you work to ensure that St. Paul students
have equitable access to rich and exciting
educational opportunities?

The opinions expressed herein solely reflect those of the individual candidates and not of Educators 4 Excellence. Candidates are listed in
alphabetical order, including those who did not complete the survey.

Aaron Benner^

Zuki Ellis*

This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Greg Copeland

Linda Freeman

I have previously discussed my proposed initiatives in Guidance
Counseling and driving changes with the Board and at the State
Legislature to diversify the teaching staff at SPPS.

I‘ll assure that our schools provide rich curriculum and teaching materials
representative of the divesity in our St. Paul schools. Schools must
provide equal opportunities for course selection and the children must
be rigorously prepared to participate in these courses. Teachers must
be prepared to see opportunities for all their students, and direct them.
Observational documentations should contribute to recommendations
regarding individual students.

There is nothing standing in the way of bringing the larger community
into the schools to communicate the multi-cultural workplace Saint Paul
is in the arts, business and education. Spending some of the mandated
staff development dollars on formalizing educational training programs,
concerts, plays, academic contests and more, are available as our
creative genius allows; and the law and auditors allow.

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

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17

Keith Hardy*,i

Jon Schumacher

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

As I stated in my answer to question #5, I believe we have to continue
to provide culturally accurate and balanced curriculum that gives a
long-term historical context to the narratives of all races and cultures.
We need to work with our institutions of higher learning to align the
teaching of these important concepts, and ensure ongoing training
is a strong and supported part of teachers’ tenure track and beyond.
They need to be mentored regularly and given meaningful tools to
understand and work with the diverse needs of all our students. In
order to be successful, our schools need to reflect their communities.
We need to create more pathways for our communities of color to
find employment in our schools and provide financial support where
needed. Those educational pathways can begin in our high schools
by identifying and encouraging students with an interest in teaching by
building teaching experiences into their curriculum. We also need more
Career and Technical Education opportunities provided so our students
have multiple pathways to succeed.

Steve Marchese

Mary Vanderwert

I believe the district needs to think more creatively about how it is meeting
the educational needs of students and involve educators, families and
students in the process of determining how to be more effective. If we
are supposed to have strong schools to support strong communities, are
those schools organized and supported around the needs of the students
in the community? What can we learn from successful schools outside
of SPPS? What are families, students and community members asking
of their local schools? In addition, the district needs to do a better
job district-wide of both encouraging and making available to students
of color opportunities to take advance courses, including IB, AP, Avid,
PSEO, and College in Schools.

I believe that the budget is a way to address some of the disparities.
Resources need to go to those schools with the greatest needs. School
counselor/social workers, nurses, mental health professionals, art and
music teachers, opportunities for healthy activity and healthy food need
to be available in those schools. Individual Education Plans need to
be realistic and adequate to meet the goals established by the team.
Parents should be offered services that will work for their child, rather
than having to fight for them. I will use my experience working with
budgets as an early childhood administrator to find creative ways to
fund these initiatives.

Finally, the district should connect students to other employment
opportunities, such as building trades, so that they graduate
career-ready.
The district’s current equity work with educators and district leadership
is a starting point, but there is much more that needs to be done. In
addition to SPPS employees, our schools need coordinated support from
other sectors. A lot of this work has been started, but it is not well
coordinated enough and, more importantly, citywide in scope.

All decisions made by the School Board and the administration need to
be evaluated based on how they will affect children’s growth, especially
those children with diverse needs. Test scores are one way, not the
only way, to evaluate success. Annual self-assessments conducted by
school leaders, parents, community members and experts should be
done in each school site and the results must be used to determine next
steps. Ongoing assessments and student portfolios are alternatives for
determining progress instead of test scores.
The School Board needs to articulate their expectations for district
leadership with

Scott Raskiewicz
I have indirectly addressed this issue above. More specifically, I would
work to redefine the purpose of education. The ruling class and their
collaborators want us to believe that the purpose of education is to
prepare students to “compete in the global economy.” That goal shapes
the education system and takes away much of the joy of school.
In stark contrast to the ruling class I believe the purpose of education is to
prepare students to create and cooperate in a global community where
all people are valued and all human needs met. Authentic education
is about critical thinking, problem solving, living in harmony with the
natural world and the development of joyful human relationships. I will
work to help develop a curriculum, for ALL students, that serves that
goal. That will require additional spending but in the long run it will pay
for itself many times over by creating a better world. We must always
remember, America is a rich country. There is no shortage of wealth. The
problem is a shortage of democracy in deciding how that great wealth
is circulated, accumulated, taxed, and used.

incumbent
* These candidates did not submit a response to the questionnaire.
^ This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

i

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

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18

Q8

Do you support the inclusion practices that
were implemented for English learners and
special education students across the district
over the last two years?

The opinions expressed herein solely reflect those of the individual candidates and not of Educators 4 Excellence. Candidates are listed in
alphabetical order, including those who did not complete the survey.

Aaron Benner^

Zuki Ellis*

This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Greg Copeland

Linda Freeman

No. The implementation in which mainstreaming Special Education and
English Language Learners was undertaken in SPPS was yet another
example of Silva’s top down centralized system of deciding what was
going to happen without proper parental and faculty input, planning
and resources. On both accounts this Silva decision proved to be a
highly disruptive roll-out, perhaps a model of how NOT to do it. Much
has been lost in the mean time in trust and confidence at SPPS that will
not be easily overcome.

I support the inclusion practices that have been implemented in our
district for English learners and will expect to monitor its ongoing success.
I agree with the current district practices that “learning academic content
is inseparable from learning the academic language of the content area,
and this is especially true for Ell students.”
I support inclusion of special education students in the classroom, but
this was not implemented with a strategic plan in our St. Paul schools
over the last two years. It was begun at the same time as several other
initiatives that also needed the attention required with new programs
(minimizing suspensions, behavior management, racial equity, closing
the achievement gap, community schools, minimizing busing, and
shifting middle schools to 6th grade).
I would show support through increased


budget



professional development in order to support general education
teachers



number of support staff and specialists.
OUR SCHOOL BOARD

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19

Keith Hardy*,i

Jon Schumacher

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

I strongly believe that we need to revisit how these changes were
implemented to understand what is and isn’t working for our students
and teachers. We need to listen to our educators, parents, and students
to fully understand the current situation school by school. Then bring
together those school community members with experts to collaborate
on best practice strategies for success for all our special needs students.
The mainstreaming efforts of the past few years have clearly shown
that it is essential everyone involved be given sufficient input, time and
training prior to the rollout to help assure success—and that we cannot
lose sight of the individual student and his/her IEP. The goal of any
change has to be an effective transitional process that improves the
learning environments of all our students.

Steve Marchese

Mary Vanderwert

The focus of federal special education law is on individualized
educational planning. The district has not demonstrated that it has
complied with federal law by modifying student plans on a wholesale
basis. We need a complete review of special education services,
including a review of each child’s IEP with a focus on what services the
child is currently receiving and would need to be successful to reach
agreed upon outcomes. The district must commit resources to meet those
needs, including increasing staffing, training regular education teachers
on working with mainstreamed students and adjusting placements to
offer supportive services in educational appropriate environments.

The children who are arriving in our state have come from countries
experiencing war and death and destruction. Many have suffered
trauma and are now in a school district that is like nothing they have
ever experienced. They need to learn English but they also need help
in processing their experiences. We need to remember that they will all
adjust on their own schedule not within our adult arbitrary time frame.
Some may need more support and more time in the ELL classes so they
are equipped to handle the demands of the regular classrooms. School
district policies need to be flexible enough to allow the teachers who
know their students to provide input when decisions are made about
their placement and when indicated, allow students to have more time
with the additional support. Our policies need to be developed in a
way that meets the individual needs of individual children. It is critical
that they be successfully integrated into our school community.

Similarly, we need to take a fresh look at ELL services and re-visit the
policy of mainstreaming Level 3 and up ELL students. For SLIFE students,
since they are less familiar with formal education, there should be the
opportunity for an additional year or more in ELL classes to ensure
that they attain a level of proficiency where they can be successful in
mainstream classes. Programs at LEAP High School and Como High
School offer models for how to provide ELL services that reach a broader
range of levels.

Scott Raskiewicz
Research suggests that less skilled or accomplished students, or students
with behavior problems, do better when they are not isolated from
their more high performing peers. For that reason I support inclusion.
However, in the first year of inclusion I was in many classrooms where
special education students were included and witnessed the difficulties
it can cause. When special education students routinely act out it
degrades the education experience for all and makes the difficult job
of teaching even more difficult. So I am somewhat of two minds on the
issue but overall I favor inclusion. Hopefully, with time, the practice of
inclusion will be improved and teachers, staff and students will become
better and better at handling the difficult situations that occur.
As always, my focus in on ROOT CAUSES. And so I ask why there
are so many special education students in the first place. I think it is
related to unstable homes which are often the result of a cruel and unfair
economic system that makes successful family life more difficult than it
need be.
incumbent
* These candidates did not submit a response to the questionnaire.
^ This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

i

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

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20

Q9

Do you support the practice of requiring
all staff in the district to receive cultural
competency and racial equity training?

The opinions expressed herein solely reflect those of the individual candidates and not of Educators 4 Excellence. Candidates are listed in
alphabetical order, including those who did not complete the survey.

Aaron Benner^

Zuki Ellis*

This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Greg Copeland

Linda Freeman

Specifically I support ending the contract with Pacific Education Group,
PEG, immediately.

Cross cultural competency is important not only for all staff, but also
students and interested parents.

The District has wasted well over a Millions of dollars on PEG, perhaps
more, the Chief Equity Officer told me she did not know what had
been paid to PEG, when I asked her at the Generation NEXT Board
Candidate sessions some candidates attended last month. My request
for the information then has yet to be filled by the Equity Chief. SPPS
has an academic mission for which it is accountable and during fours
years of PEG: the SPPS MCA GAPS have increased; and the On-Track
Measures at the MN DOE have gone into the basement. Absent any
positive system-wide results PEG has earned contract termination.
Separate evaluation by SPPS staff of the negative effects to SPPS systemwide school discipline is a subject for the New Superintendent, as is
a recommendation to answer this question beyond PEG’s failure to
provide a beneficial equity training program.

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

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21

Keith Hardy*,i

Jon Schumacher

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

As a district with a large population of communities of color, it is essential
that our educators are culturally competent and understand how racism
can act as a barrier to learning for our students of color. Unfortunately,
the important programs introduced over the last few years to address the
Achievement Gap have lacked a comprehensive strategy for successful
implementation and evaluation. There has been too much, too soon
without the necessary engagement, buy-in, support, or planning to
promote effective and sustainable outcomes. And the drive to see quick
results has led to an unfortunate perception that compliance is more
important than honest collaboration.
I believe we need to have open and honest evaluations at a classroom
level with community input. Then we need to use those results to develop
a strategy - in collaboration with all members of our school community
and area partners - that prioritizes support in the classroom to make
sure all of our students are learning. Finally, we can’t be afraid to try
new approaches, techniques and even systems. We have to find ways
to build successful educational models based on enhancing those key
relationships between students, educators, and parents.

Steve Marchese

Mary Vanderwert

Given the background of SPPS teaching staff and the student
population, we need teachers who are aware of their own racial and
cultural backgrounds and able to work effectively with the children in
our schools. However, the district needs to get much more practical
and focused in its racial equity work. The district’s current efforts are
insufficient to create real change in educational practice and outcomes.
It will take a much more strategic and focused effort to actually make
change.

Upon hire, orientation needs to include an overview of cultures within
each school, the cultural values and approaches to child rearing, the
history and discipline practices, and the effects of structural racism on a
child’s world view. As they work in their classrooms, all teachers need
access to reflective supervision to help them assess their experience
against their own background and world view. Is what they are
struggling with a child issue or a conflict in their own value and cultural
experience? Reflective practice groups could study ways to combat the
effects of structural racism and their own biases.

There are additional ways of supporting this work -- for example,
helping teachers use multiple teaching methods so that they can vary
instruction to more closely match student learning styles. The district
should allocate resources so that supportive services are available for
students who have the greatest need for them. The district could partners
with community stakeholders and involves them in schools in strategic
ways tied to learning objectives and long-term outcomes. Finally, I would
push district administrations to access and incorporate the knowledge of
community members, in particular, members of communities of color, in
the development of equity programs and strategies.

Scott Raskiewicz
I never had cultural competency or racial equity training and yet, during
my seventeen years of substitute teaching, but using the Golden Rule, I
received a great many compliments and thank you notes from students
of all races. Some of those notes were so touching they brought tears
to my eyes. I worry that all of the focus on race takes away our shared
humanity by emphasizing differences rather than similarities. That is
why I listed my race as human rather than a color. Furthermore, if we
focus on what is best for ALL students (i.e. smaller class sizes, a richer,
more diverse curriculum) ALL students will benefit whatever their culture.
Some extra training might be useful as no teacher knows everything
about every culture. But let’s focus on building an American culture,
a culture where “liberty and justice for ALL” is a reality, not an empty
slogan. Lastly, blaming teachers for racial inequities takes focus away
from the underlying problem – political, economic, health care and
criminal justice systems that treat people of color in ways that make it
needlessly difficult to create homes that prepare children to become their
best selves.

incumbent
* These candidates did not submit a response to the questionnaire.
^ This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

i

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

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22

Q10

Do you believe employing more teachers of
color will help reduce opportunity gaps in
the district?

The opinions expressed herein solely reflect those of the individual candidates and not of Educators 4 Excellence. Candidates are listed in
alphabetical order, including those who did not complete the survey.

Aaron Benner^

Zuki Ellis*

This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

Greg Copeland

Linda Freeman

I absolutely do! I have stated my support for a diversification of the
SPPS, and State Teaching Ranks at all the forums I have attended. SPPS
only employs 17% people of color and Minnesota only has 4% teachers
of color. These numbers require the Board to adopt a New Policy to
recruit professionals of color across the board, not just teachers, but
school administration, student guidance, central office and support staff.
In a District with nearly 80% students of color, the mandate is upon us
to accomplish real progress in hiring a diverse workforce under a New
Superintendent. I was a newspaper reporter covering public education
in rural Florida in the late 70’s and for it’s size and Southern history, the
School District there was more integrated in the last century, than SPPS is
now. Progress has been clearly unacceptable under Silva; Progressive
is not a term we can use to describe hiring at SPPS, despite the claim of
those on the Saint Paul School Board to be progressives.

Qualified teachers of color should be recruited. At the same time, I
expect that teachers, regardless of color, will recommend equal
opportunities to students regardless of student color.

I am an Institutional Change Agent, I ask for your vote on November 3,
2015 because Saint Paul’s Children get only one chance at a successful
education and there is no

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

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23

Keith Hardy*

Jon Schumacher

This candidate did not submit a response to the questionnaire.

This was referenced in my answer to an earlier question, and I would
reiterate the need to create more pathways for our communities of color
to find employment in our schools and find ways to make it financially
possible for them to pursue careers in education. Much of the current
diversity in our system is represented by Educational and Teaching
Assistants who are members of the community and aspire to become
teachers. There are also site staff working in other roles, from the
cafeteria to administrative positions who may have similar aspirations.
We need to work with our institutions of higher learning to make
sure their programs welcome and support these neighbors and future
teachers. We also can start early by working in our high schools to
identify and encourage students with an interest in teaching by building
teaching experiences into their curriculum.

Steve Marchese

Mary Vanderwert

Students of color need to see adults in the classroom who understand
their experiences and can offer role models for the future. As a board
member, I can encourage hiring practices that seek qualified candidates
of color to be teachers. We should also work with SPPS graduates
of color to help them find pathways into education and, hopefully,
to return to the district as teachers. Also, I can help advocate for full
implementation of alternative licensing procedures at the state level, as
well as for reduced barriers for out of state licensed teachers to work
in Minnesota. Finally, I would find ways to work with SPFT leadership
to continue and broaden/deepen their efforts at diversifying teacher
staffing.

Children need to see adults that are similar to them to be examples of
what is possible in their own lives. Children in some communities have
learned not to trust adults who are different from them. It is important
that their interactions and relationships with adults are positive and
productive. That is why we need teachers who reflect the background
of the children. They also need to see adults from diverse backgrounds
working together, in this case the teachers. The SPPS need to work
with teacher training programs in higher education to ensure that new
teachers have had experience and training in working with a variety of
cultures.
When hiring, the process needs to include questions that would reveal
a candidate’s experience and opinions around racial equity. Interviews
could include interaction in classrooms for SPPS staff to observe and
evaluate a candidate’s readiness to work in a diverse classroom.
Including parents in the hiring process would also provide insight into a
candidate’s values and experience.

Scott Raskiewicz
I support an immediate increase in the hiring of people of color to
work as teacher’s assistants. In my work as a sub I found TA’s of all
races to be a great help and thought many would make great teachers.
Unfortunately, on a TA’s income going to college to receive the needed
training is unaffordable. Therefore, I support the establishment of a
program for free or dramatically reduced tuition for TA’s of color as
a form or reperations. (I think college tuition for all qualified students
should be based on a sliding scale fee according to ability to pay.
Making college unaffordable for so many is yet another indication of
the moral and intellectual incompetence and corruption of America’s
ruling class.)
I would also like to see more college students of color working in schools
as teacher’s assistants. This work would be compensated by reduced
tuition and would give prospective teachers the chance to see first hand,
day after day, what it’s like to be a teacher.
Lastly, in the very near future college costs for ALL students must be
dramatically reduced. Our nation can afford it. After all, we are not a
poor nation. The problem is that

incumbent
* These candidates did not submit a response to the questionnaire.
^ This candidate has withdrawn since filing.

i

OUR SCHOOL BOARD

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24

For far too long, education policy has been created

without a critical voice at the table—the voice of classroom teachers.
Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization, is
changing this dynamic by placing the voices of teachers at the
forefront of the conversations that shape our classrooms and careers.
E4E has a quickly growing national network of educators united by
our Declaration of Teachers’ Principles and Be­liefs. E4E members
can learn about education policy and re­search, network with likeminded peers and policymakers, and take action by advocating
for teacher-created policies that lift student achievement and the
teaching profession.
Learn more, and view this guide online, at
Educators4Excellence.org/SPPSboard15.

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