Category Archives: Education

Tomorrow’s column a few hours early

Duluth School Board District 2 candidate Harry Welty speaks during a candidate forum sponsored by the Duluth News Tribune and the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. The forum was Sept. 24 at the Duluth Playhouse Family Theater at the Depot in Duluth. (Clint Austin /

Candidate’s View Column: Look back to move Duluth public schools forward
Written By: Harry Welty | Oct 16th 2019 –

Ten years after the Supreme Court legalized “separate but equal,” my grandmother rode her horse to an all-white Monroe Elementary School in Topeka, Kan. Fifty-six years later, the Supreme Court ruled that Monroe, now a segregated all-black school, was unconstitutional. The court ruled that even if white and black schools were treated equally, forbidding black children from attending schools with white children treated them as inferiors.

Three years after Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education, I attended another all-white elementary near Monroe. In the first week of school, 100 black children from segregated schools were shepherded into our classrooms. Five years later, I was one of 14 white children in a sixth-grade class with 17 minority students. As the Supreme Court had hoped, I was vaccinated against any thought that I was superior to my black classmates.

My social DNA was formed in that integrated school, but my school’s integration was the exception. Over the years to follow, our nation’s schools re-segregated. When my dad was offered a job teaching law in Mankato, Minn., I found myself in an unfamiliar sea of white children.

Nevertheless, the issue of equity had taken root and came with me to Minnesota. In 1968, the year Martin Luther King was assassinated, I slept in a room with the first black student ever enrolled at Mankato High School. Bedru, an Ethiopian exchange student — and a Muslim to boot — was our family’s guest for the year.

I moved to Duluth to teach in another all-white Minnesota school 45 years ago and learned Duluth’s dirty secret. A 1920 lynching kept black Americans away until the Cold War gave Duluth a military base.

Among my Red Plan warnings was its uneven division of Duluth. It would re-segregate an integrated district. Along with this it traded 100 teachers ($10 million annually) for new buildings. Today, Duluth is not only more segregated, it endures overcrowded classrooms.

No one can fix our schools in 500 words, but I have spilled millions of words on this subject into a blog after retiring from my first eight years on the Duluth School Board. Since then I’ve served four more years. I’m once again offering my considerable experience to Duluth.

As bleak as our school’s current situation may seem, there is an opportunity to restore our schools with a new superintendent and School Board. We can have schools that rival the best public schooling Duluth has ever offered — despite the Red Plan’s bond repayments.

As we work toward this new birth, we must remember the rising of the oceans, the land’s parching, paving and flooding, and a sixth extinction that all are coming with climate change. Our children must be prepared.

I read that Duluth’s St. Mark’s church, founded by freed slaves, is inspired by the African principle, “Sankofa,” which means “to look back in order to move forward.” If I am elected to a fourth term on Nov. 5, that is the spirit I will bring to the Duluth School Board.

Harry Welty is a candidate to represent District 2 on the Duluth School Board. The seat is up for election on Nov. 5. He wrote this at the request of the News Tribune Opinion page.

Dr. Kirby’s column is something of a laundry list. He didn’t miss anything and you can read his comments in the Tribune here. By the way, The Doctor’s wife, a fellow general practitioner, oversaw the nurse who gave Claudia and I flu shots at the Mt. Royal Medical Center today.

1st some Political business

I crashed at midnight with an UN-proof-read post. I intend to crank out 4 more posts on the power of American public schools that so many Republicans seem intent on destroying. But first, a couple School Board posts that need addressing.

I got a call this morning from a friend who was worried that the many visible double signs I put up (Welty Oswald) before heading to my reunion might hurt Alanna Oswald’s chances of reelection.

He was worried that Republicans who detest me for badmouthing Trump wouldn’t vote for Alanna. I acknowledged that this might happen. However, I would wager that the greater threat to Alanna would come from the pro-Red planners who have never forgiven me for being a naysayer.

I am content to go back to these yards and put some separation between our signs but I would guess that where my archest critics are concerned the damage is already done. If they wish to vote for a lesser candidate that is their choice and Alanna is innocent of my enthusiasm for her.

The glory that is public education – through the eyes of a fellow who experienced it.

I should begin this by acknowledging that before I left town I paid a call on St. Lukes Hospital. Alanna Oswald had texted me the night before that she had an advanced sepsis that when discovered led to her immediate hospitalization. “Flesh eating” seemed to be the operative word and she would be hospitalized for weeks to try to clean it all out. I asked her if I could stop by the next morning and Alanna assented. but when I got there I was told to wait another fifteen minutes then another ten then another twenty and when I was told another twenty I realized that seeing Alanna was not in the cards. A team of folks were busy removing the sepsis. I headed south after texting my good wishes and regrets. Alanna explained just how dire her situation was in a text back and then she posted her situation on Facebook.

I’ve said before that Alanna is the best and or smartest Duluth school board member I’ve known over the past forty years. She’s young to me. She was my student thirty years ago. I fervently hope she mends and gets to serve out another four-year term. The drive south was a somber one for me.

My fiftieth high school reunion was extended by a day so I missed church this morning and joined the reunion’s organizing committee for one last gathering under a canopy of fall colors in the Minnesota River Valley. At this moment when I should be hopping into bed I’m instead thinking that it would be nice to write a series of posts. Something on the order of a day’s experience and a lesson learned. What I have come away with is the glory that has been the American public school system. If it has fallen in esteem I can’t help but think it has something to do with the paranoid impulse to close the doors on people who are seen to be not like “us.” Us, being of course, white folks.

There were about 160 of us gathered on Saturday night. If forty percent were spouses that meant that we had close to a hundred classmates gathered. Considering fifty of us have passed from this mortal coil that meant that a quarter of the 400 remaining Scarlets attended on this penultimate night of the reunion.

One of the things that occurred to me and to many others of us during the festivities was our memory that during our Homecomings we always saw our fiftieth anniversary predecessors at the pep fest honoring their return to the old Alma mater. They always seemed so old and frail and we, by contrast, felt quite able. Perhaps we looked as frail to the kids in the bleachers looking down at us or just maybe vast improvements in hip replacements, heart surgery and the like really did give us vigor our predecessors would have been astonished by. For folks on the cusp of age 70 we looked pretty damned good. And we were a pretty smart collection of people. Over the next couple days I learned much about what had happened to kids I left behind.

A couple things. Public School can be cruel. For me High School was a wonderful change from my Junior high school years. Some of those I would most have liked to catch up with did not enjoy my experience. I suspect a lot of folks reviewing their old albums are used to gushy praises. If I can believe my notices I was a fun person and one who was a little bit weird. A lot of girls said I was sweet which I take as code for not dangerous. And I wasn’t dangerous. At least not in that way.

I’m going to lay off campaigning tomorrow and write about the last four days. Claudia decided to stay home and that was a gift to me because it gave me a chance to devote my time to some serious catching up with people I liked and had not seen in decades. I have given it some thought and the following subjects might be worthy of elaboration. But that will be tomorrow’s work

Day 1 National Guard. Wallpaper, Judy the latest chapters

Day 2 Woodland hills in a flurry, Friday Nite Lights, all the girls I knew

Day 3 The fallen, Age of Aquarius, ADHD

Day 4 a reverie in the woods, My first date

Rough notes

I’m not fussy about perfection which explains my comfort with the last post’s state – unpolished. Its an attitude that I think is useful to show students who too often think mistakes are some sort of blemish. They are great teaching opportunities….the same way that, theoretically at least, there are no stupid questions. I suspect a lot of missing homework stems from kids fear of showing their mistakes. I hated to write thank you cards after Christmas for the same reason.

I’m sure a lot of my readers remember times when they felt humiliated being called on by a teacher and not knowing an answer or worse yet being called to a blackboard and flubbing a math problem. Feigned indifference is one method of hiding this embarrassment. I remember a classmate of mine passing around his all-F report card in homeroom as though it was some sort of prize. I found out later (from a truly awful teacher) that the kid had the second highest IQ among my 454 classmates. If our President was not such an arrogant ignoramus his tweet flubs could be endearing.

My eight loyal readers have grown accustomed to my sporadic proof reading, tolerating it like an unmowed lawn next door. I trust that the contents I offer makes it worthwhile for them to come back for more. This post is meant to be a heads up to the new readers who check out lincolndemocrat every time I run for office.

I didn’t stick up more lawnsigns yesterday because it was too damp for my taste. This morning its still gray outside but I spent an hour in my garage yesterday putting the signs on bent up old stands. I’ll try to put up a few more today.

Oh, and I finished all my paperwork for substitute teaching. Now I have to study some online classes on how to sub in the Duluth schools these days. I got some hints from Paul Sandholm at the KBJR studios yesterday before we taped a school board candidate session for Sunday’s morning line up. Paul also told me that the Tribune’s and the Chamber of Commerce’s taping went horribly awry last week and the video was unwatchable. That was true not only for the school board candidates but for the Mayoral and City council races too.

Like students everywhere the Trib and the Chamber are only human.

What I just sent to the Strib

1. A headshot in the highest photo resolution possible.

2. The link to your campaign website. Facebook Page: Harry Welty Givem Helty and and

3. A short bio (roughly 50 words) – it could help to look at our 2018 guide linked above for examples.

Harry Welty, Age 67, history teacher, snow sculptor, blogger, frequent candidate for public office has served three terms on the Duluth School Board. Married to Claudia he has a son and daughter who graduated from Duluth’s schools. He has more opinions than you can shake a stick at and he can juggle.

4. Answers to the following three questions (using 50 or fewer words for each response):
…..1. Why should voters elect you?

So that voters can have the confidence that someone who understands school finance, the Red Plan, education law, the value of public education, the management role of a school board and the importance of teachers is sitting on what today is a pretty inexperienced Duluth School Board.

…..2. In order of priority, what are the top three issues facing Duluth Public Schools?

1st. That equity is not enough. Every child should be tended to carefully for twelve years of schooling no matter the shortcomings they bring to school. 2nd. That teachers should be given all the support they need. 3rd That the public is treated with openness and complete honesty.

…..3. What is your solution to that top issue?

In fifty words? Starting with a new Superintendent show respect to every employee of the district and expect the best from them and have them reciprocate this ethos to the students in their classrooms and to parents. Make every precious dollar in our budget work to maximum effect.

The dilemma of a writer, The advantage of a blogger

The editors of the Duluth News Trib gave school board candidates a heads-up two weeks ago that we could send them a 500 word column for their paper for this year’s school board campaign. I sat on it for a while then woke up one night and cranked out a piece with lots of suggestions for the District. Last night I woke up with a rather different approach to a column and pounded a different one into my cell with my index finger. This morning I went over it a couple times not remembering that once formerly 700-word-columns had shrunk down by 200 words in these leaner and meaner days of journalism.

But I had written a 640 word essay. I had to cut 140 words from it. Such is the life of a writer. Well, before I trim my column down to size I’m going to share the original with my eight loyal readers. In a week or two you will be able to see whether I was able to preserve the sentiments in my column before I began whittling away at it.

This is a writer’s dilemma but its not one for a blogger. There is one risk. The Trib often warns people who submit something to them that they will not publish anything that was submitted to a rival publication. (That wasn’t expressed in my email invite however) I think they would be hard pressed to call my blog a rival publication. Its strictly not for profit and besides that, by the time I trim one fourth of this verbiage away the Trib will be hard pressed to claim that I made the original column public before they got hold of it. Stay tuned and see how well my message translates to newsprint after its blovia-ectomy.

Looking Back to Move Duluth’s Schools Forward Continue reading

This Facebook post begs a reply

I intend to provide it but not tonight. I’m bushed.

Well, Well, Well. Someone has a sense of decency. This was taken down not long ago.

As I went about my business over the weekend I gave this post a lot of thoughts which now, apparently, no longer need much elaboration.

I will, however, enumerate a couple starting with this observation. Such posts are designed to undermine. Two years ago I endured two separate Facebook attacks which I felt had to be addressed. I replied to one such attack and the owner of the Facebook account removed my comments. The other Facebook attack was hidden behind the curtains of a group that sealed itself off from a general audience.

As for this since deleted attack it was based on guilt by association. Alanna, my former student who as a parent stuck her neck out to criticize the District as it shortchanged western Duluth students was reduced to being my buddy. My crime of not promising to roll over and play dead in the event of a teacher’s strike in a Union questionnaire was attached to “my buddy.”

All Alanna had to do was show that she answered one question on a Union questionnaire the opposite of me. She did. The accusation of being associated with me was withdrawn. That’s just as well because the fellow running against Alanna boasted that he had been the campaign chairman of two school board members who have caught hell in the last month. That may be an even worse association.

What was the question I gave such an unpardonable answer to? Now that the post is down I’m not sure anyone cares but… if you do. Continue reading

Strike, Strike, Strike

The Students who are striking today…as opposed to those sneaking out and pretending to…have read that in a decade or so it may be too late to roll back or stop Global Warming. Their families and future might be as bleak as North America is becoming for birds.

The powers that have shaped their curriculum have not managed to teach them that all is well and not to let anything trouble their pretty little heads.

Students in Duluth will meet at Duluth’s City Hall at 11:30 AM this morning. I would join them were it not for my being scheduled to serve lunch at the Damiano Center. If you can take my place please join them and show your support for humankind’s future.

If bad news is better than no news maybe the Duluth Schools will be OK

Last night I got positively no sleep other than a quick doze for an hour at about 5:30 AM. I was awash in thoughts, enjoyable thoughts, much to my annoyance since the sleeplessness they cause puts me at risk of dementia. So, I was wide awake at 7:00 AM when I got up to prepare for today. I had another day of painting window casings at church waiting for me followed by putting up new storm windows. We had gotten so much work done the day before I had hopes of retiring the job for the year today. We only have 14 of 96 storms left to put up. No such luck. We’ll be putting them up tomorrow morning if the rain holds off.

I had to tell my work crew that I would be leaving them to go and film a five minute campaign intro speech at City Hall. This is where the office of Public Access Cable TV is. thinking about what I might say is part of what kept me up the previous night and I had an outline in my mind. I added a prologue to it after scanning a longish email from a friend who also couldn’t sleep last night. In her email she second guessed all my posts and my campaign. I only found it ten minutes before I had to the work crew so I had her concerns on my mind as I drove to City Hall. Her email was helpful. I added a prologue mentioning the difficulties facing ISD 709 and I compared myself to Elizabeth Warren – she of the many plans.

I had also gotten the idea of setting up my cell phone to record whatever I ended up saying at PACT. I did all that and was back at church in about an hour, by which time the rain had put an end to the window work. We found other tasks to accomplish and after lunch together I came home after promising that I’d go back if the rain ended. It did stop I went back to work until after 5. By that time tonight’s school board meeting was only an hour away.

It was a slog so little to do taking ever so long. A second “special” meeting was held after the regular meeting to talk once again about how to select a replacement for Josh Gorham. I could only take about 45 minutes of that and came home wishing the board members had done a little talking with each other beforehand. They ran the meeting like they were walking on eggshells. Come to think of it, they were. The Western Equity Group and the NAACP were on their case from the public comment time on. The District is making news but not the kind it wants.

I introduced myself to the Trib’s Ed reporter for the first time. To my surprise it was almost like she knew me. Maybe she’s peeked at the blog, poor thing. Then I got an even bigger surprise. I was introduced to the New Minneapolis Star Trib reporter who-has-moved-to-Duluth to cover the Duluth Schools! That is an absolute first. We are now under the microscope of the entire state of Minnesota.

In the last few days I’ve been rethinking my aims. Trump is bloating up like a corpse in a scummy pond. After feeling the magic ball of the Saudies they felt secure in carving up a reporter into mince meat and have now so provoked Iran, with Trump’s blessing, that they have accused Iran of blowing up half of the Saudi’s oil production. Just what the world needs a firestorm aided an abetted by the smartest person on Earth who is only giving the Iranians a good reason to build a nuclear deterrent to Saudi Arabia.

I may challenge Pete Stauber but as this election gets closer I’m realizing I’m not finished with the School Board. We’ve hit bottom and there is no way to go but up. I’d love to be on that rocket while the Strib covers our recovery. Yeah, Trump world is the Apocalypse but maybe we can put on a lead coat to protect our children. I want to do the tailoring.

BTW – my four-not-five minutes at PAC TV was swell. I’ll put it up in a couple days and share it with you.

A much appreciated pat on the back

My first round of “book selling” fundraising was very disappointing. I was almost afraid to send out the same letter again to a different precinct. Because of the new Postal routing the earliest I can receive a donation or comment in my return envelopes is five days after I mail it out on Friday. Today was the fifth day and several donations “book purhases” came in and one check was bound with this postit note:

I can’t count on the school board to continue reminding voters that a board without me on it can be dysfunctional. I have to keep campaigning and selling enough books (fund raising) to pay to keep mailing out my campaign letters. And 10,000 District 2 voters will not be visiting this ridiculous blog. So, I’ll share the letter that at least one donor thought was a good one with anyone who stumbles into this post. Its followed by a donation button if any of you would care to see me back on the School Board.

*** Continue reading

“The answer is not Harry Welty”

As I was flipping through Facebook this morning I saw that someone posted the Trib’s story about the recent resignation of Josh Gorham. I couldn’t help but check the comments section and one fellow who I think is a shirt-tail relation to one of Duluth’s political families wrote simply. “Harry Welty is not the answer.”

I’m not sure what question his answer was addressing, transparency, cordiality, stamina etc., but I couldn’t help but reply so I asked him simply: “Why not?”

I’ll be interested to see if he replies.

When I was a school board member I always tried to reply to questions directed at me by email. Sometimes I got quite a lot of them.

Not a statement likely to suppress questions

Dear Members of the Media,

Effective immediately, I have resigned from the Duluth School Board. I made this decision as I have been compelled by ongoing circumstances to take steps to prioritize my health and well-being, family, and career.

Many personal factors informed my decision, however, I’d be remiss to not speak my peace to the general public that elected me. Life is too short and time with children is ever important to me. I made the choice to serve on the Duluth School Board because I wanted to be part of supporting a system that is focused on providing a vital service to the youth of our community.

The responsibility of the school board under the guidance of administration and board leadership to its community is to govern efficiently and lead effectively to provide for equitable education, resulting in high student achievement. Unfortunately, my experience in striving to provide accountability to educational equity has been met with what I perceive as a dismissive, maintain the status-quo approach.

My comments at a summer Education Committee (I believe in June) in response to the annual report on graduation rates and student test scores were: “Trying hard is not good enough.” The annual refrain from district leadership is: “We have improved, but it is still not acceptable.” Of course it is unacceptable, but where is the accountability and a sense of urgency?

My commentary does not reflect on school staff, principals, nor some of my board colleagues.

These are my comments for now. I would appreciate privacy moving forward.

Josh Gorham

Think global but act local – Welty style

Were Republicans ever good?

I have never had any doubts about the answer to that question. And yet in my life I’ve been aware of criticisms of Republicans over the course of their history from Democrats. Ironically, for a lot of those Democrats they made use of the old saying “If you can’t beat them, join them.” So successful has this practice become that ex dems and their descendants have not only joined the Republican Party but purged it of the original Republicans to make it the party they wanted all along – The Party of Trump. And Ironically, a lot of the Republicans that made the GOP the Trumplican party didn’t mean for it to go so far. They didn’t want to abandon free trade agreements. Some of them even truly felt bad about a growing national debt. Many of these Republicans were keeping an eagle eye on the Russians even after the fall of Russia’s communism.

The faithfulness of these former ideologues is shown by their hasty and pusillanimous surrender to a man they knew to be a clown. As ideologues they worship ideas but not good ideas. No they worship election winning ideas. Ideas like nativism, skin color supremacism, and hatred of academic curiosity and any evidence that their ideas are faulty. Many of them were started out as Never-Trumpers. For the past two years the Never-Trumpers have been hiding in the pro-Trump crowd. Next year, if as seems likely Trump gas a great fall like Humpty Dumpty, they will camouflage the yellow stripes running up their backs and adopt some new color; probably the standard issue red, white and blue of their deeply patriotic lapel pins. They have been worthy imitators of Vichy for the past couple years.

For the past several months I’ve been working on a book related to public education and more specifically the Duluth Public Schools. But every day a tweet storm reminds me of the reason I filed for Congress against Pete Stauber last year. Our nation is threatened by an empty huckster who expected to lose the Presidency and turn his defeat into a massive effort to start his own news Trump television Network by caterwauling that he had been robbed of victory. For the last four years I’ve comforted myself with the obvious ignorance of this man. Just today the man who has a $150 million mansion on Florida’s Hurricane coast said he’d never heard of a category 5 hurricane. This man who brags of his brilliance like the Kingfish of Amos and Andy doesn’t know, and has never known squat. He’s Kingfish a jackass that seventy years ago working class white people recognized as a fool. Who put the scales over their eyes?

If America was ever to fall to a tyrant who could have expected it to be such a loon? We have been lucky in our choice. It wasn’t Aaron Burr. It wasn’t William Randolph Hearst. It wasn’t Huey B. Long. It was “The Donald.”

If I fulfill my promise to my donors and finish the book about public schools (win, lose or draw) I hope I write the other book that’s been trying to distract me from the former. It will be a book that attempts to answer the question posed at the beginning of this post. The answer is “Yes.” Next question. How did Donald Trump ever eclipse Abraham Lincoln and make America the world’s laughing stock instead of the “shining city on a hill?”

BTW – I don’t think Donald every grew up enough to shake Amos and Andy out of is ever adolescent head. That may explain why he wants to lead his chosen white people to his Aryan heaven of gold towers. All the better to milk them.

Here’s that book that standing in the way of my writing a book about the fall of the Party of Lincoln. Please put in an order and force me to finish writing it for you. I think you will like it almost as much as most locals like my snow sculptures.

Harry’s diary August 27, 2019

School has started. The days are cooler. I think today will be the real last day that our summer’s long kitchen remolding will finally wrap up. If it is then I’ll paint one side of our dining room tonight where a new wall is bare white. I was so sure the mess was over that yesterday, in the adjoining dining room, I cleaned off the chandelier hanging over the table. This is a tedious task that I put off for as long as three years. It requires removing hundreds of small glass bobbles and washing and drying them and replacing them. Its a little complicated and just like when my buddy used to take his bicycle apart and puzzled over a few pieces that weren’t put back together I had four crystals left over. The chandelier looks fine but golly, What did I do differently?

In part the chandelier cleaning was a way for me not to fret over writing my book. I’ve only nibbled at the writing for the last week. I’ve got 42 orders but still need 158 more to go before I will be prepared to have them printed once the book is complete. In my early fantasies the printing was to occur next Tuesday. I began to realize that was pushing it over a month ago. Now I’d like it to be done about the time of the election. I reported in the last post that I got a big mailing sent out offering the book to my fans. But, due to the Post Office’s demand that Duluth mail be sent to Minneapolis first today is the very earliest I should expect any returns. I’ll head over to my PO box in half and hour to see if I got any strikes. If so, by the end of the week I’ll post a new thermometer to show how close I’m getting to 200 orders. Whether I’ve struck gold or panned out I’ll turn my attention to the book afterwards. Its going to get written one way or the other.

I am a unique candidate in one respect. Only newbies to Duluth have not heard of me before so name ID is not a big deal. I honestly don’t know what the majority of people make of me. That’s why I spend so much time writing but even telling all may simply confuse people. Only novelists do that, right?

The fellow who is challenging my friend and former student, Alanna Oswald, told the DFL endorsing convention that did not endorse either candidate that he planned to spend $12,000 on his election. Maybe he was counting on DFL money to do that. I just know its not easy to raise money like that unless you are an incumbent Congressman like Pete Stauber with the NRA and the Koch Brother’s cabal throwing money at you. So much is at stake nationally. The Koch’s feel much safer with wackos like Jair Bolsonaro coming out of the Facebook Wilderness and despoiling the Amazon than with Scandinavian school girls sailing to America like the Vikings of yore with the heretical message that we ought to make the Earth livable for our grandchildren.

I’ll need a significant war chest to send out my mailings to the next 10,000 voters in my District. It may not be quite that big a mailing. I came home Friday and found two envelopes from my campaign in my mailbox. One was for Claudia the other was for me. I thought I had assured that only one envelope would be sent per household at fifty cents each total mailing and printing cost. I spent double that on my home. Thankfully future mailings, at least seven more of them, will be sorted more carefully to avoid that waste. Because of this it may end up costing a little less than the $5,000 I anticipated. If I can’t afford new ones I have old lawnsigns that I can use and the only advertising I’m doing is in the Reader. That may come to an end too if this mailing is a bust. The mailings and my blog and related campaign Internet sites are my principle means of communication.

If I don’t post much in the next week its because I’ve returned to my book with a fury. There’s not a lot about education that I haven’t said before in the last 25,000 Lincolndemocrat posts. And by the way for new visitors, if you wonder what I’ve said before there is a search function you can use to type in subjects you are curious about. For instance, I suspect I’ve written a little about Denfeld’s new principal Laurie Knapp before. I like Laurie. She got a story in today’s DNT about her appointment to the post. Wish her luck. I am concerned that her predecessor on administrative leave left her with lots of unfinished work with classes about to start. That would be one more unfair hard knock on Western school kids.

Well, its 10:31. I’m off to the PO Box. You can wish me luck too.

UPDATE: NADA…….time to write.

“Illegal Actions”

My wife read today’s banner headline story about the Principal of Denfeld being placed on “Administrative Leave.”

She wondered why Ms. Sconiers was only placed on Administrative Leave six weeks after she hired an attorney to “investigate” illegal actions by the District. Goodness Gracious! That sounded pretty suspicious on the District’s part. Payback maybe????? Then, when I went to replace storm windows at church an hour later one of the crew wondered the very same thing.

Well, writing as the KING of investigating suspicious things about our School District I’m not overawed that a school principal under fire would want to be the first to fire a shot over the opposition’s bow. That’s what her claim of investigating the District is. Its served its purpose well by thowing suspicion on the District………a District which I must admit has been infamous for bad decision making.

While the public sits back waiting for another shoe to drop I’ll confess that I’ve heard rumors going back not six weeks but more like 12 weeks that the Denfeld Principal had flown a little too close to the sun with wax wings. Whatever the concerns have been, Ms. Sconiors has certainly turned the tables trust-wise on the Superintendent and his supportive School Board.

I’ve been in that position myself as a school board member. I just ran across an old letter I saved from the Tribune’s columnist on high-minded platitudes, Tom Wheeler. (I’m still awaiting any comment from him about the current President of the United States.) Back in 2003 Mr. Wheeler’s wrote me asking pointed questions about why a paragon of hockey virtue should be relieved of his coaching duties. Coincidentally, that subject will be a chapter in the book I’m offering for sale to finance my campaign for the School Board.

There will likely be a chapter on race relations as well. And it’s a chapter that keeps getting bigger and bigger. See the previous post to purchase a book.

Returning the favor to Alanna

I don’t know what that gibberish is at the bottom of this post. I hoped it would take you to my campaign Facebook page. I put a newspaper from October 14, 1986 on Facebook page Harry Welty Give’m Helty. It was turned in by Alanna Rogers (now School Board member Alanna Oswald)

You see Alanna kindly put a picture of my good wishes to her in her yearbook page. In my good wishes I commented that Alanna was a lot smarter than I am. She still is……..probably. So, I thought I’d do Alanna a good turn and display her newspaper for 1986 that was handed out too all my classes. It was something my Geography teacher, Mr. Just, used to do when I was in eighth grade. Only I did him one better by making my students publish the paper for the day they were assigned. This is Alanna and a couple other classmates work.

I am feeling a little peevish…

… about the Teacher’s Union right now. Let me tell you why.

Its not because after an extensive several hour grilling they didn’t endorse me. I didn’t expect one. I had a lovely time talking to them. I met with six groups of two to three teachers and at each stop I loved explaining my ideas to them in very engaging conversations. The last of them was with a couple of fellows who had to ask me why I wanted to DFT (Duluth Federation of Teachers) endorsement. I told them I’d never gotten it before, didn’t expect it this time, but that I’d love to have it as it would signal that teachers were willing to bury the hatchet somewhere else than in my head.

I did think that would be a wonderful message. But I know I’ve taken stands they didn’t like. I’ve been a tough contract negotiator. I’ve taken on two former DFT Presidents. So, of course they preferred a Second District school board member who would represent teachers rather than management. That’s David Kirby not me.

I haven’t asked Loren Martell if he got the endorsement because facing a very nice retired Duluth teacher he wouldn’t get it either. Especially after Loren keeps pointing an accusing finger at an equally Labor oriented School Administration. The DFT also got Jill Lofald elected two years ago and four years before that they elected teacher-friendly “management” in Bill Westholm and Mike Miernicki.

I understand this. I don’t bear any grudges. I’ve gotten elected three times to the School Board without Union endorsement. Its not necessary. I don’t even think the majority of teachers will feel compelled to vote for David Kirby because he got their union’s endorsement. Hell, whether David or I are elected the teachers will still have the same pot of money to draw their future salaries from. David can’t raise any more than I can. In fact, I’d argue I’d be much better for them because if anybody has the credibility as being fiscally trustworthy and believable when advocating for additional levy spending its me not David. I hope to talk our voters into giving our district more money to protect the massive investment in new buildings that Keith Dixon and his besties on the school board forced down Duluth’s throats. At most, David Kirby and the other Union submissive school board members will only jointly write a column encouraging voters to pass new levy referendums in a Duluth News Tribune that fewer and fewer voters subscribe to.

As for me? I’m a one-person, pro levy juggernaut. I’ve helped pass other levies before.

I might be expected to be frustrated that the DFT is blind but I’m used to human blindness. It’s a failing not a sin.
But what I am exceedingly disgusted with is Continue reading

The Foreword to Harry’s proposed book on his experiences with Education

My long quest for public office probably began in my first week of second grade in Topeka, Kansas’s newly integrated schools. Sent to the playground I climbed to the top of the jungle gym where I saw the black children from the segregated Buchanan Elementary School led into my school Loman Hill.

Yesterday I was the last of 25 candidates for local office in Duluth to give a speech to the 710 Club. This, is what said in my 3 allotted minutes. (You can listen to the speech in the preceding post)

“I have lived in Duluth for forty-five years. Or as I tell newcomers, I’m still a new kid too, here in Duluth because of that spider web that Alanna just talked about. School here. But I did come up here to teach and teaching and children is a major focus of my life. I’ve been on the school board, off and on, for twelve years. I got bumped off two years ago I’m, I’m not finished. I’m ready to go back again.

“One of your Mayoral candidates was up here and mentioned a horrific number that I’ve heard before. 246 of our 8000 children are homeless. I grew up in the Baby Boom. We didn’t have homeless kids in Topeka, Kansas, when I went to school. But we do now. And those sorts of children need people because that’s what a school is. It’s a People business. You have teachers and counselors who are looking out for the interest of these children.

“But our school board about ten years ago took a great leap of faith and they decided that buildings were particularly important. You heard Mr. Martell, my dear friend, who keeps track of the School Board and our finances, talk about that. But when I was first on the School Board about twenty years ago, we were taking about 20 million of the local levy and it was going into the classroom. Today its ten million. The other thirty million goes to pay off our wonderful new schools. But ten million dollars every year – that’s a hundred teachers, that we don’t have to deal with our homeless children, our children out west and the increasingly segregated school system out there. And it’s a terrible, terrible, change for this District that was doing quite well when I was on the School Board for the first time.

“Sigh. It’s not going to be easy to solve. You can imagine how a school board is going to want to have the public help it out but they didn’t give, they didn’t give us a choice when they decided to impose the Red Plan that diverted twenty million dollars (correction), or ten million dollars from the classrooms to buildings. Anytime I have a chance to uh, to come to you for money its going to be asking you to vote for it. I don’t want to impose it. You can imagine how much we need it with ten million being taken out every year until the Red Plan is paid off. My priority will continue to be those 246 homeless kids and all the other kids that need teachers.”

I posted this speech on my blog the same night I gave it. It reflects my fear that a war has been declared on public education in America at the very time that the rest of the world discovered how good America had it because of our universal public schools. We may have the biggest GNP for another decade but we won’t keep it without educated workers, voters and citizens.

At about the same time that I began my long stalled political career I began to experiment with writing. Today these two vocations are wedded together from the seed planted in me back in second grade surveying the world from that jungle gym. I have stories to tell.

NOTE: Usually its only presidential candidates who get a biography ghost written to impress people. I’m just a small town school board candidate. I don’t need to “sell” books to raise campaign funds which is how I started this campaign. From now on I’ll simply send a book to anyone who donates at least $15 dollars to my campaign. You can do it online. If you don’t want the book give it to a friend, or an enemy, or use it as a doorstop.