An interesting meeting I did not attend

At least one of those school board candidate pages on Facebook has some worthwhile analysis of Duluth’s future with a new Edison high schools.

Alanna Oswald took up Rep. Erik Simonson’s call to be part of a community conversation about the District. Evidently, Alanna also has some serious credentials working with the District in the tricky issues of race. This is her Facebook Page and this is what she wrote:

Today I attended a meeting held by Minnesota State Representative Erik Simonson with the leaders of the four major schools within Duluth. I was at the table not because I am running for school board, but because I wanted to advocate for underrepresented families who are often not part of these conversations. Rep. Simonson heard what I had to offer, such as my work as a major coordinator of the Race, Culture, and Achievement Gap Summit, along with my experience helping parents while employed with the Education Equity Office and also teaching in ISD709. Superintendent Gronseth and Board Chair Judy Seliga-Punkyo were ISD709’s representatives at the table. We had a candid discussion about how to make the best possible educational options for Duluth, while not hurting any other educational provider. As I stated at the meeting, no matter how much we plan to be the best for everybody, it is nearly an impossible goal, and you want those kids that don’t fit in one place to have other great options to choose from. Edison’s new charter high school will draw kids away from ISD709. The question is how many, and how much money can the district lose because of this. Edison is planning on being the best choice out there, just as we all want to be the best choice. Over 1/3 of future Denfeld kids already attend Edison, and around 1/4 of East bound high schoolers. The deficit on Denfeld’s enrollment is real, and when you look beyond the city to the lure of Wrenshall, Proctor, and Hermantown (among others), Denfeld is dealing with more enrollment competition that East ever has to think about. Attendance boundaries do nothing to change enrollment, but only force parents to make choices. Do they go with the new requirement? Do they appeal and follow the path they thought their kids would have? Do they look to what else is out there to see if something else suits their needs? Changing boundaries only forces people to make choices, and ISD709 will not always be the winner of those choices. The key is funding all education institutions in order to not create a competitive environment that hurts some and boosts others. The discussion will continue, and I will be at the table trying to shape perhaps a new way of thinking about how education can be managed within cities and our state. And I will be there regardless of the election outcome, but sure would like to be able to advocate more specifically for ISD709 in this plan to ensure success for our public school system’s future.

This is one big paragraph. I’m not sure Facebook is designed to break up large chunks of text but its evidence that one of the school board candidates has put a lot of thought into where we are heading.

I bolded one sentence that was new information to me to wit: a larger share of Edison’s students would normally head to Denfeld (one third of them) compared to East (one fourth). This demonstrates why Rep. Simonson was well advised to get Duluth’s educational leaders together. I will point out that my absence is the result of our administration and Board Chair not telling me about this get together. I’m glad I decided to peruse some of our candidate’s on-line messaging to find out what was kept out of my reach.

Alanna, if you have any other observations about the District or the top secret meeting I’d be happy to publish them here in Lincolndemocrat. My email is:

All of my readers are encouraged to send me questions and messages too.

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