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.