Why #1 is #1

I will post the DFL screening committee’s 14 questions to me and my replies later. I’ll start with the most important one which asks me to list my three top priorities. My two two top priorities are almost inseparable – like asking which came first – the chicken or the egg. Still, when I was asked to explain what my top priority was at the actual screening I stuck with number 1 – More money! It killed me not to address my second priority equity between east and west.

There is a straightforward reason. Without more money directed at the classroom it will be a challenge to address the issue of equity. Yesterday’s excellent story on absenteeism and today’s follow-up story by Jana Hollingworth reinforced this conviction. They are about the high incidence of kids skipping school in Duluth. The fewer staff we have to greet and teach these students and the more remote our schools seem from their needs the less able we will be to help them succeed. On the other hand – we have many students for whom equity is far less important because of the kinder, gentler circumstances of their lives. More money can help us help the kids in greater need. That why my #1 priority is #1.

DFL question 4. What do you consider the top three priorities for the Duluth Schools right now? Please place in
order of priority and state your plan to work on them.

MY ANSWERS:

1.Hiring more teachers to reduce class size.
HOW: Keep our expenses low. Win back the trust of voters and use that trust to pass an increased operational levy referendum. Renegotiate the Red Plan Bonds which are taking an unconscionable $3.4 million out of our classrooms annually.

2. Make sure that our schools with large “free and reduced lunch” populations are treated fairly and equitably.
HOW:
Begin by making sure Compensatory Ed funds follow the children for whom they are meant into their schools. Make sure that the course offerings at all secondary schools are equally attractive and lure open enrolled students back into our schools.

3. Treat our staff and public responsibly, with respect and expect the best from everyone connected to our schools.
HOW:
By setting such an example myself.