Progressive Action Questionaire

Progressive Action is an ultra-liberal organization dedicated to keeping the memory of Paul Wellstone alive. They sent me the following questionnaire and I answered their questions as follows:

Progressive Action Questionnaire for School Board candidates

The Duluth school board recently passed a measure that increased public indebtedness by $250 million for a controversial school facilities plan, without a public referendum. If you were on the school board, how would you have voted on this measure and why?

I would have voted against it.

Considering the costs of this new school facilities plan, will the school district no face questions about paying for the cost of school programming?

I predict so. First the vast building program seems to have been developed without any discussion of the kind of programming the District will offer. At the present the state has made locally passed excess levies crucial for raising operating money. I can not imagine that after being denied a chance to vote on the “Red Plan” we could ever get the voters to pass an operating levy again. This is just what happened in our Superintendent’s previous school district and that district got to vote on the building referendum.

If so, how will those programming costs be covered?

In Fairbault there was blood on the floor where programming was concerned. I presume the same would be true in Duluth.

Will there be lost openings for students in sports, extra curricular, and co-curricular activities due to closing one of three high schools?

Yes, However I have been a long time supporter of two high schools in order to enhance what our schools are supposed to do – educate our children. No other school district our size has three high schools. They spend their money on programming. This will mean fewer sports teams but this is a trade off that will enhance our schools.

And, if so, how will those openings be replaced or new opportunities created?

The most important opportunities will be found in richer course offerings.

What other challenges and financial repercussions do you see the city facing due to closing one high school, in terms of transportation costs, impacts on neighborhoods, students, after-school job opportunities, and so on?

I see several. If the new boundaries do not try to mix the student bodies I see a slow and painful slide to a rich and a poor high school. If Central High School was the second school rather than East I see an improvement in transportation costs. If the second high school is Ordean, with the continuation of the Secondary Technical Center on the Central Site, I see more expensive transportation costs.

And how would you address these?

I would vote for a boundary line that mixed the student populations no matter which building was to become the second high school.

Do you favor a return to stronger teaching of civics in our public schools, and if so how would you se making this happen?

If, with the consolidation of our high schools, we could offer a seven hour day again civics (and other coursework) would be more likely to be offered to our students.

Would you consider a public single payer health care solution for school district employees, including administration teachers, and auxiliary employees?

This idea only makes sense to me at the Federal and/or state level. The difficulty of taking on all the health cost burdens of employees is readily apparent in the City of Duluth where retirees no longer need to charge their medical costs to the Federal Government through Medicare but let the entire burden fall on the local taxpayers. It is impractical to consider adding this kind of cost to the School District.

How do you see the No Child Left Behind Act affecting the Duluth schools, and how do you propose the schools address those effects?

I resent this Federal intrusion into local schools. While there is some value in student testing the NCLB’s testing is faulty because different localities use different tests.

One of the Progressive Action criteria for endorsing a candidate is the quality of the candidate’s campaign. Explain your campaign organization and approach and how your campaign is structured toward winning your election.

I’m an old hand at elections. I have one of the more familiar names locally and will count on that to win votes. I believe that I enjoy a reputation with many voters as being sensible and well versed on educational matters. I’ve got some lawnsigns and I’ve renewed my blog: to let voters peer into my hopes for the Duluth Schools.

What is the most crucial question citizens should ask of the school board candidates this election and what would your answer to that be?

You already asked it. It was your first question. See my response to it.

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