Greg Copeland on the Record with the Villager, More than Qualified to Serve on the SPPS Board

This post is the answers Greg Copeland gave to Kevin Driscoll at the Villager on Sept 6, 2015.  Sometimes these reporters pare down the good parts of candidates replies to just 200 to 400 words.  We feel you’ve been cheated so we are adding the full replies. ~~ Publius Jr.


#1. Experience Advocating for Poor People & Making Institutional Change Will Make Greg Copeland a Good Choice for School Board

I am a sixty year old widower with one adult stepson who is a carpenter living independently. I am a homeowner living just off Payne Avenue for 23 years in a neighborhood that fully reflects both the ethnic and economic diversity of  the Saint Paul Public Schools, whose student majority reflects my neighborhood; low income and people of color, with children attending traditional East Side public schools or one of numerous publicly funded charter schools.

My first job after college was as a newspaper reporter covering public schools where I won an award for my coverage of teacher contract negotiations from the Florida Teaching Profession-National Education Association. While deputy director of a multi-county Community Action Agency I developed a Young Adult Conservation Corps job training program in carpentry and masonry for unemployed youth 16 to 22 years old which also required high school dropouts to complete their GED.  I assisted in administering Head Start, Meals-on-Wheels and congregate dining programs for the elderly. I wrote federal and state grants to provide unemployed adults job training, the elderly and disabled with transportation to doctors and shopping, low income energy assistance, home weatherization, and a community food pantry.

I served as a contract compliance officer for community college based job training programs and as a recruiter for a private industry-public partnership on-the-job training program.

I was the primary caregiver for my wife Betty, for 16 years following her disabling on-the-job crash in which she sustained a traumatic brain injury and numerous other physical injuries. Betty, a Professional Dietitian who provided staff training and public health inspection services to institutions and private businesses before being rear-ended by a careless driver,  founded Minnesota Hugs, a nonprofit to aid American communities hit by natural disasters

I served as City Manager of Maplewood, then Minnesota’s 18th largest city with a population of 36,000, over two budget cycles; in the first year my recommendation to freeze tax rates was approved by city council as was my recommendation to reduce tax rates the second year. During this time I reorganized city departments eliminating administrative positions and internally promoting a record number of long time city personnel to more responsible positions. I used the budget reductions and new grants to increase police on the beat by 10%, hire more full time EMS  personnel and expanded the city’s citizen staffed pay-per-call firefighters and EMS ranks; all without one dime of Local Government Aid (LGA).  I also hired Maplewood’s first full time code enforcement officer. While there were objections to these administrative reductions from some remaining department heads who formed their own union;  six other city union bargaining units got 3% raises and the police got slightly more

I ramped up the city’s residential street paving program doing two years of work in one year. Won a $1.2 million Met Council redevelopment grant to assist in building new streets and utilities to help transform a dilapidated mobile home park into a taxpaying multi-million senior residence. Worked to protect the sensitive habitat of the Fish Creek Nature Reserve in the Mississippi River Corridor and to place city parks in a public trust to keep them from being sold in the future for development. Funded a plan to clear of a backlog of years of neglected building maintenance.  While I was City Manager Maplewood was open for business; the city welcomed Costco’s new store, a renovation plan for the Maplewood Mall, a new 3M corporate training facility was built, and Menards and St. John’s Hospital expansions went forward.

My record of volunteer service includes my appointment by then Gov. Bob Graham, later  U.S. Senator from Florida, a Democrat;  to the Board of Trustees of  the Pasco-Hernando Community College for four years. I am a former Chairman of the Saint Paul Charter Commission and member for 12 years. I was on the Saint Paul CIB, Capital Improvement Bond for six years and served part that time as Vice Chairman.  I have been active with the Payne-Phalen District Council elected president twice and to multiple terms to the Board of Directors, I am now only on the Community Planning Economic Development Committee.

 #2.  Yes WE the Voters Can Fire Silva !  Enough Is Enough!  

My goal in this election is to build a  Citizens Coalition to elect a new governing majority on the Saint Paul School Board that will have as its first mission the hiring of a new Superintendent of Schools. Voters must reject the one- party model that has controlled School Board and their decision to hand Superintendent Silva a Sweetheart Contract. Silva’s new three year contract extends to December 2018 well past the terms of office of all the school board  members that voted for it on March 17, 2015. Even the terms of the two board  members, Chue Vue and Jean O’Connell who are not up for election this November have terms that will end in 2017; a full year before the final year of Silva’s 2018 contract

There is no accountability in an election for School Board when Superintendent of Schools Silva gets a free pass from her friends in the party in power because they know the jig could well be up.  The good news is there is one member of the Board, John Brodrick who voted against Silva’s new contract.   There are at least two candidates running for the Board, myself and Aaron Benner [says he won’t serve even if elected] who have publicly pledged to terminate this ill-conceived political protection plan for Silva; which Silva herself all but threw under the school bus days after it was passed by Board, when she decided to apply for Superintendent of Palm Beach, Florida Public Schools. In an odd twist it took Mayor Coleman to publicly persuade her to withdraw her application.

Any School Board, including Saint Paul’s has but one primary mission: hire the best Superintendent the district can afford. On March 17, 2015 the current DFL controlled Board robbed the voters of Saint Paul of their right to elect four new School Board members to make that decision in 2016. Silva’s then-current contract was set to expire in December 2015, just days before the new School Board would be seated. They did wait for the question of Silva’s retention to come up for public discussion.  The current Board exercised what it thinks is a veto over you and all the other voters as well as the new Board for the sole purpose of protecting Silva at the expense of the children’s future

I urge voters to use their ballots on November 3, 2015 to end this high stakes politics of one party control over our Saint Paul Public Schools by adding real diversity of  views to the Board to ensure a new leader is selected to move our schools out of the basement that Superintendent Silva’s record exemplifies.

Here are the facts from the Minnesota Department of Education, MNDOE, website showing the absolute decline of Saint Paul students On-Track for Success.

In 2010 54.5% of students were On-Track For success in Math by 2014 it was only 41.6%; that is a 12.9 point slide in just four years. In reading 53.3% of Saint Paul students were On-Track  for Success in 2010, in  2014 Saint Paul was well off track, falling by 11.8 points in 2014 to 41.5%.

Take a look at the 2015 MCA’s. Proficiency in reading is in the cellar as the “GAP” between white students and backs is now 33% points wide, 31% for Hispanics 29% for American Indians and 13% with Asian students In Math the “GAP” between white students and Blacks was 37%, Hispanics at 31%, American Indians were 33% and Asian students had a “GAP” of 9%.

Silva’s Strong Schools, Strong Communities Plan has especially failed our children of color. In 2014 the MNDOE says 175 or 8.65% students dropped out of Saint Paul Public Schools: 50 were Black, 63 were Asian, 35 were Hispanic, 5 were American Indians and 22 were white,  and 165 of students who dropped out were economically disadvantaged. If Saint Paul Schools had just met the statewide graduation rate of 81.2% in 2014, 151 more Saint Paul students would have received their diplomas; sadly that did not happen, only 75.6% students graduated in Saint Paul. In 2014, 412 or more than 15% of  class were not graduating, but were said to  “continue”

This results are unacceptable. These results are the strongest argument for terminating Silva’s contract without further delay. We need to change this educational leadership crisis at the polls; our children, our city and state, America can’t tolerate this rate of  educational dysfunction in the 21st Century. It is economic folly to pretend otherwise, and a cruel hoax on those children left  out of any opportunity for a good job or further education. We must elect a wholly new School Board majority that will take the courageous actions needed to hire a new Superintendent for Saint Paul and buy out the Sweet Heart Contract so wrongly and cowardly awarded last March.

#3.1 Replace City Wide Elections with Ward Based  School Board Elections & Reform School Board Public Meeting Procedures

Reform the School  Board election process. In recent years the City Wide  School Board election process has left the East Side and the West Side without adequate representation. Those who have been elected are disproportionately from economically more well to do zip codes, in  Wards 3, 4 and 5.  One East Side board member is not enough and there is no board member from the West Side. Unfortunately this pattern was again enshrined with the DFL endorsed candidates; none is an East Sider or a West Sider, the poorest and most diverse parts of the city have no vote and no voice on the Board from their neighborhood.

I propose a simple remedy, let’s  elect our school board members from each of the city’s seven City Council wards.  This will ensure a fair geographic distribution of School Board members from all parts of the city and it will reduce the advantage and/or need for big money in the school board campaigns by reducing the voter population of each district or ward to only one-seventh of the city, rather than candidates  having to make their case to every voter.

Other Board process reforms I would initiate are complete televising of all Board meetings from begin to end. Elimination of the “Committee of the Boardmeetings now held out largely out of public view . Committee work or workshop meetings should take place in public and be televised.  A meeting of the School Board is a public meeting under MN Law no matter what the Board  chooses to call it.

Public comment/testimony should be given and heard by the Board in a meaningful manner with respect.  Comments on  agenda items pending before the Board  should be made during action on that item.

The Board should give consideration to holding meetings around the city when a subject of special concern arises in order better accommodate the public and encourage people to directly participate. Listening to the people takes time, good representative government is built around a deliberative process,  we should embrace that process, even if it takes more time and may be uncomfortable for some elected officials use to the old ways

3.2 A Modest Proposal to Decentralize Schools, Invest in Guidance Counselors to Give All Students an Individualized Education Plan  & Spend the Money in the Classroom

Academic challenges abound in any school system, but given Saint Paul’s last five years the Silva top down, centralized model of insisting teachers teacher the same thing in every classroom on the same day has dramatically  failed. Where is the respect for teachers professional creativity? Where is the flexibility teachers need in a classroom where the ability of individual students varies so widely?

Education is like many things in life, having an Individual plan works better for each of  us because we don’t all share the same approach to life’s challenges given the variation of resources, skill sets, sex, age, ethnic heritage, life experience and many other variables.   Our choices are ours to make and all Parents, well to do or poor, should have the full range of Saint Paul’s educational opportunities available for their children.  I would propose to decentralize and eliminate of the Silva attendance zones and offer full  school access using practical public transportation options, i.e. school bus or van, or public transit to take the burden off parents working shift work or multiple part-time jobs or having responsibilities to care for non-school age youths or sick relatives.

Merging of all children by grade regardless of their unique educational needs makes no sense and degrades the academic performance of students, adding to class sizes and makes for unnecessary complication of  classroom discipline  and teacher planning and effectiveness.   I support an education model  tied to the unique needs of every child, whether they are  an English language learner, a special education student, gifted in a vocational education class or in Miss Jones Physics class.

We need every student to have an Individual Education Plan created in a hands-on consultation with the parents, teaching staff and guidance counselors to ensure that the academic goals for each child are met and any GAPS are addressed with tutoring and other interventions before the MCA and other tests are taken by students. Evaluation, monitoring and updating the Individual Education Plan to ensure proficiency at grade level is a continuous process comparable to a doctor assessing and treating their patients of any age according to their unique individual needs

The American School Counselor Association calls for a ratio of one guidance counselor to 250 students; Saint Paul is at approximately 435 to one counselor. I would propose to add to the present 85 counselors in the system over time as funds became available from system wide spending reductions in administrative costs, grants are obtained, new funding from legislation and of course elimination of failed, costly Silva era programs such as those operated by the Pacific Education Group.  Additionally, the $9 million annual technology levy funds should be re-evaluated to be used to support active use of  the Individual Education Plan process. No new funds or property tax levies will be required.

Saint Paul needs a  Citizen School Board that is committed to putting money into the classroom as its first priority. I embrace the leadership displayed by the interim Minneapolis Superintendent’s decision to eliminate 120 administrative jobs to fund his reform strategy.

The 2016 budget repeats the same pattern of spending as Silva has adopted for years, spending too little on students in the classroom.  Only 48.22%  the $525.3 General Fund or just $253.3 million is being Directly Allocated to Schools.  I support a policy that allocates the Maximum dollars possible to the classroom for student instruction. In the future teachers and classroom aides will not be the first cuts made as has been the case under the current Board.  Budget reductions must be made starting with Central Administration. On top of my list is a  full examination of the $176 million School Support Services budget and District-wide Support Services budget of $92.1.  Together these two parts of the budget account for over 51% of the General Fund.  The next Board in order to fund new priorities for raising student academic achievement and promoting safety in all classrooms will have to go through these funds with a fine tooth comb to spend more dollars on direct student guidance and instruction

#3.3 Spend  Title I  & MN Compensatory Funds On the Economically Disadvantaged Students Who Earned Them & Accept Help from Commissioner Cassellius

Both Congress and the MN Legislature  sent approximately  $93 million dollars to Saint Paul Public Schools due to the poverty that grips the lives of 73% of the 37,859 children enrolled in our Capitol City’s public schools where 27,716 got free and reduced lunches. I want to be sure that the $70,297,543 in MN Compensatory dollars allocated to Saint Paul and earned by our poor children in the state education formula is spent directly on them.  These are the students that need the extra attention and clearly the money is available, but how is it specifically being spent?  Parents of poor children I talk to are constantly being told by school administrators we don’t have the money to meet their children’s needs. I tell them not buy that old line; there is a $697.8 million budget

Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota’s Commissioner of  Education  said on Sept. 1 that Minnesota will not meet our state goals to close the achievement gap unless “we see significant improvement in Minneapolis and Saint Paul student performance.” Commissioner Cassellius was referring to the fact that 38 St. Paul and 36 Minneapolis Schools scored in the bottom 25% of the 2015 Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) and not one Saint Paul School was among the “reward” schools whose economically disadvantaged children finished in the top 15% of schools with a model of improved achievement that can shared with others schools. The Good News is there were six St. Paul Schools that are in the next 25% best MMR scores and are now eligible to apply for “Celebration” schools status.

The most disturbing news however was that Saint Paul was not participating in and had no intention of sending their staff to the MN Department of Education Regional Centers of Excellence that provide staff training that has resulted in a significant lift in student performance at many schools outside the two core cities.  A Saint Paul Public Schools official told local media “we” did not have to “go outside the district” because they were relying on their own staff; really!   This kind of unapologetic arrogance is the problem with the Silva administration. They will never admit what legislators and educators else where in Minnesota already know; Saint Paul, with some notable exceptions is operating as a failed system for many poor children and students of color. I refuse to accept that it has to be this way, there is nothing a new strategy a good game plan could not fix.

I for one pledge to work with the Minnesota Department of Education to get all the help our children need. I am not waiting for the election results to do so either, I was recently appointed to the MN Department of Education’s  Committee of Practioners, COP, that works on improving the Federal Title I Programs that sent $23 million to Saint Paul Schools this year to assist our poorest children. I hope we can obtain some additional resources to work  for Saint Paul Students

GREG COPELAND
ALL  MINDS  MATTER!
Saint Paul School Board Candidate

Copeland: Only Candidate who Supports Expulsion of Student Terrorizing Class with Loaded Gun

This was copied from the Pioneer Press Nov 1, 2015 Opinion Page.  It is odd that of all the candidates’ letters, only Greg’s is not listed as an actual candidate in the signature line.  You would think that because the Editorial Board endorsed the Teacher’s Union Slate, it’s okay to check the other candidates into the boards.  This isn’t hockey. ~~ Publius Jr.


School discipline

I want to let your readers know that this St. Paul School Board candidate stands with the letter writers who have expressed outrage over the failure of Superintendent Valeria Silva, as well as her central office administrators and school principals to discipline students in accord with existing zero-tolerance policies for a child bringing a loaded gun to Harding High School, as well as possession and use of a controlled substance.

The student, in my opinion, contrary to the principal’s conclusion, did have intent to use this weapon. The student, who has pleaded guilty, declared to the Ramsey County attorney he found the gun in the weeds on Payne Avenue and brought it to school to defend himself from a gangster group.

I support the penalty prescribed by Minnesota Statute 121A.44 that “a School Board must expel ‘for at least a one year’ a pupil who is determined to have brought a firearm to school.”

The meltdown in St. Paul school discipline did not start with the loaded pistol at Harding High, but it should end there. Superintendent Silva has failed to provide the safe school environment that is a minimum requirement for students to be academically successful, according to the district’s Rights and Responsibilities Handbook available at spps.org.

Parents, students, teachers, staff and volunteers all need new School Board leadership to hold Superintendent Silva professionally accountable under her employment contract for the ongoing violence and disruption to the learning environment created by the mixed messages sent by Silva to principals not to discipline misbehaving students. The achievement gap will only be perpetuated in this increasingly uncontrolled disruption of student learning that is being tolerated under Silva’s politically correct no-suspensions policy.

On Tuesday, St. Paul voters can bring an end to this dysfunctional chapter in school mismanagement and return to our 37,000 children their right to an excellent education, without violence in our public schools. I promise I will take action, rather than entertaining, as other candidates have suggested, yet more of Silva’s “courageous conversations,” which I believe have enabled the present escalating cycle of violence to become worse.

Greg Copeland, St. Paul

[One of two East Side SPPS Candidates, Keith Hardy the other.  Students on the East Side can’t be best represented without one of their own]

 

 

Rock The Schools LIVE Candidate Forum Purposely Delayed into a Podcast

October 25th, a note was sent out by Monique Linder for Citizen Stewart (aka Chris Stewart) that the Rock The Schools Live Candidates Forum for October 29th was to be cancelled. The reason was that most of the candidates for St Paul Public Schools (SPPS) Board couldn’t make it.  A second chance for the forum was to be recorded as a podcast on November 2nd at the I Heart Radio Studios, thanks to Citizen Stewart and Monique Linder, who is the Founder of OMG Media Solutions.

The real reason was that the DFL Endorsed, Teachers Union Slate handlers told their Astroturf Caucus for Change Candidates that they needed to do Get Out The Vote phone calls and to attend a fundraiser for landscaping at Central High School.  What is the more important priority: landscaping, or telling voters what you will do once elected to the School Board to reverse the meltdown of our St Paul Public Schools.  It’s as if the Labor Bosses at the Teachers Union has already decided that you’ll vote for them so their slate doesn’t have to show up.  They have enough money to persuade you in all forms of media…$119,000 through the AFT and Education Minnesota.

Here is the podcast that was recorded this morning thanks to Monique Linder and Citizen Stewart.  It runs about 1 hr and 15 minutes.  All the Candidates were invited, but the Teachers Union slate didn’t bother to show up AGAIN.  They didn’t bother to show up at the African-American Forum held at Hallie Q Brown Center that all the other candidates went to on October 29th.

Rock The Schools meet St Paul School Candidates (Episode 32) Podcast

Non-Partisan Candidates Speak out against Corporate Elitists Auctioning the SPPS

The following was copied from Anthony Lonetree’s Class Act Blog of the Star Tribune from October 27, 2015.  The content was not altered.  The fonts, and color were added for emphasis.  ~~ Publius Jr.


St. Paul school board hopefuls answer to youth

Eight St. Paul school board candidates took questions from students at a youth forum on Monday that for the most part focused on personal rather than political concerns.

First, though, there was the politics.

The event came a week after the St. Paul Federation of Teachers filed a campaign finance report showing that it had received $50,178 from Education Minnesota to assist with this year’s get-out-the-vote efforts.

That was in addition to an earlier $50,000 contribution from the American Federation of Teachers — all part of a union push to persuade DFL activists and now city voters to back four candidates running under a Caucus for Change banner critical of district leadership.

Most of the students at Monday’s event at Sun Ray Library were middle-school-aged, but that did not stop two candidates — Greg Copeland, a former Maplewood city manager and St. Paul city GOP leader, and Scott Raskiewicz, a former substitute teacher — from issuing sharp opening statements straight out of a rally or political science lecture hall.

Copeland, pointing to the infusion of national and state money in district-level races, thundered that the teachers union had turned the school board election into “an auction.” Raskiewicz railed against the “leadership class” and a Democratic party controlled by the “corporate elite.”

The students — many wearing orange Battle Creek Middle School Panthers T-shirts — responded to each of the board hopefuls with equally robust applause. But then, with the first question, they showed that this would be a different type of candidates forum. That question being: How would the candidates work to improve the quality of school lunches?

Rashad Turner, organizer of Black Lives Matter St. Paul, who is running a write-in campaign with Green Party support, said that the lunches should reflect the various cultures within the state’s second-largest district. “I don’t want soul food to be cooked only at the crib,” he said.

But there was time for weightier subjects, too. Students wondered why there were stereotypes based on “someone’s actions.” One student, identifying himself as D.J., asked why students should be expected to show respect to teachers but not always receive it in return.

“Adults don’t always do the smart thing,” said Zuki Ellis.

“It breaks my heart that you have to ask that question, D.J.,” added Mary Vanderwert.

Along with Steve Marchese and Jon Schumacher, Ellis and Vanderwert are running with DFL endorsement in heavily DFL St. Paul.

One incumbent, Keith Hardy, still is in the race, and he hinted at the potential of the crowd in a simple greeting: “Good afternoon, young leaders,” he said.

Monday’s forum was sponsored by groups that include St. Paul Youth Services, Youth Intervention Programs Association and Students for Education Reform – Minnesota.

Yes We Can Fire Silva: St Paul Public Schools Can Be On Track to Prevent another Rocori Shooting

This post was copied from MPRnews from October 27, 2015, by the Associated Press.  The content was not altered.  Links, and ads were dropped, fonts changed, and color added for emphasis.

The refusal to suspend and expel students for willful misbehavior enables bullies and disrupts learning.  Superintendent Valeria Silva will not be held accountable by the current school board nor American Federation of Teachers endorsed candidates for the St Paul Public School Board of Education this year.

They have said over and over again in candidate forums that they are against suspending students that misbehave, and that they are against zero tolerance policy that the board and the State of Minnesota has enacted.  They are further against the School Resource Officers who they assert are not properly trained with Racial Equity in mind because students of color are being suspended at a rate that alarms them.  They assert that it is due to Institutional Racism and not the behaviors of the individual students showing disrespect to elders, teachers, and other students in the school.  St Paul Schools have been fortunate so far, but it is only a matter of time that the institutional indifference and neglect that Superintendent Valeria Silva, other board members and perspective candidates endorsed by the Washington DC AFT Union Bosses that will lead to an incident like the Rocori High School Shooting that happened in Cold Spring, MN.

Let’s pray to God that this never happens in St Paul or anywhere else.  You can elect Greg Copeland who will be one of the votes to fire Superintendent Valeria Silva and begin the healing.


Memories of MN school shooting lead NFL’s Decker to tackle bullying

Issues The Associated Press · · Oct 27, 2015
Eric Decker
New York Jets’ Eric Decker stood on the field as he warmed up before the NFL football game with the Miami Dolphins Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. Matt Dunham | AP

One Disruptive Student Can Keep a Whole Class from Learning

The following was copied from Pioneer Press, October 30, 2015, Joe Soucheray.  The content was not altered, though fonts, and color were added for emphasis, and some links were dropped.  ~~ Publius Jr.


Soucheray: Powerless teachers make it easier for unruly students to rule

By Joe Soucheray

Posted:   10/30/2015 10:16:16 PM CDT | Updated:   54 min. ago

As an indication of the alarm concerning violence in the St. Paul schools, many of the letters I have received from former teachers have been delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, suggesting to me a degree of experience that predates instant technology. School marms and pas are weighing in.

Violence in the schools includes Minneapolis schools, by the way, where a handgun and ammunition were found in a locker belonging to a 16-year-old student at Patrick Henry High School last week. This, too, resulted in a torrent of beatific but meaningless drivel about needing more community involvement and such. It goes without saying that the administrators also pine for more money, there being no evidence that more money results in anything except the hiring of more bureaucrats who exacerbate the problem.

The problem is not complicated. A conscious decision has been made, with the help of expensive consultants, to reduce the suspensions of unruly students on the grounds that the students are unruly only due to systemic racism, which is a negative that cannot be proven.

Unruly students allowed to remain in school results in more fights, more incivility, more instability and an impossible learning environment for the students who only wish to wrestle with algorithms.

It is not hyperbole to say that often now teachers and students are in danger.

One of the best letters I received, from a veteran of 16 years in St. Paul schools, insisted that one disruptive student can keep a whole class from learning. One.

“I’m not talking about a day or a few days,” Brian Nichols wrote, meaning the disruption, “but the whole year. A teacher cannot let this happen. I repeat, a teacher cannot let this happen.”

Ah, but they must. It has been so ordered that suspensions have been too numerous and must be reduced. The corrective goal has been reversed. The misbehavior that causes what should be suspensions must be addressed.

The letter writer was not the first to suggest that disruptive students should be suspended and cannot come back to school without a responsible adult in tow, a parent, an aunt, an uncle, the television repairman, somebody. An adult.

“I had a student that disrupted my class too often,” Nichols wrote. “I had a conference with his mother. She understood my problem and said they also had trouble with him at home. I asked her if she could come to school the next day. She said she could. I told her to come to my class five minutes after class started and leave five minutes before it ended. She said she would. I told her I would have a seat in the back of the room for her to sit. She was not to talk to anyone, just sit there.

“The next day when she walked into class, I was watching her son. I thought his chin was going to hit the floor. When the class was over, I asked John if he wanted his mother to come to school tomorrow. Of course, he said no. I asked him if he knew what he had to do to keep that from happening. He said yes. The problem was solved.”

Why, legions, whole armies, of teachers will tell you that they are powerless under the thumb of administrative orders to back off. As a result of backing off, what was once disruption that might have been solved by a parent sitting in back of the classroom has now escalated to the point where police officers have been installed in schools! This is unfathomable to my generation. Some of us still have knots on the backs of our heads from when we got banged into a locker by a passing teacher.

I am not suggesting that teachers administer physical harm to a child. I am suggesting that the more powerless teachers are to enforce discipline, the easier it is for kids to get away with whatever it is they want to get away with.

It doesn’t work.

Joe Soucheray can be reached at jsoucheray@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5474. Soucheray is heard from 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays on 1500ESPN.

Greg Copeland: Public Education Needs to be as Important as Public Safety

The following is Candidate Greg Copeland’s response to St Paul Strong’s 6 Principles that was posted on their site.  The six principles are SAFETY, TRUST, RESPONSIBLE, OPEN, NEIGHBORHOODS, and GENERATIONS. Feel free to click on the links below. ~~ Publius Jr.


 

St Paul Strong 6 Principles

St Paul Strong List of Grievances

Greg Copeland:

This is good work you are doing! I am only too happy to endorse the Principles of Saint Paul Strong.

You and I know John, as those who have actually fought many public battles at Saint Paul City Hall/Ramsey County Courthouse, that foreclosing public participation in public policy making is not a new problem in River City !

In February 2011 as an individual Citizen I stood up at the Ramsey County Commission’s to meeting to demand that Public Comment be heard in opposition the Ortega/Bennett proposed Viking’s Stadium 1/2 Cent Sales Tax after County Commissioners listened to the Viking’s Lester Bagley Billion Dollar Stadium Pitch just before they voted, ultimately, without taking any Public Testimony to spend hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars to sell the Public the Stadium and the Sales Taxes to pay for the Billion Dollar Bond Issue. Discarding for almost nine months any opportunity for public participation for their “We know Better Than You Do” sales campaign for more taxes; Governor Dayton ended the Ramsey County Commissioner’s stadium quest on  November 1, 2011 after the Viking’s rejected a public outcry demanding a public referendum on the tax under the Ramsey County Home Rule Charter.

Next I had to sue Mayor Chris Coleman, who was in such a hurry to build the millionaire owners of the Saint Paul Saint’s a new $63 Million Stadium financed with Millions in unprecedented taxpayer subsidies, that Coleman decided to issue the city construction contract to his pals at his favorite construction company without any public bids! Coleman’s City Attorney defended his Boss in the press, but before the first court hearing could be held, Governor Dayton told Coleman if he did not put the city construction project out for Public Bid as the law requires, the State of Minnesota would withdraw their $24 Million stadium grant to the City of  Saint Paul. Coleman finally relented agreeing to publicly bid the job; and his buddies still amazingly got the contract by bidding for it the old fashioned way.

I would like to suggest that Saint Paul Strong  amend it’s statement of Principles to include Public Education as important as Public Safety.  No doubt you are aware of the Saint Paul School Board decided on August 18, 2015 to no longer broadcast on the city’s Cable TV Public Channel,  Public Comment offered by the Public at the Regular Monthly Meeting. This ill advised policy was, the School Board Members and Staff declared done to: “treat members of the Public more Equitably” and “reconnect with the Public”; really? I think the policy is absurd, and unfortunately is emblematic of the School Board’s numerous public policy failings, such as the 44 point GAP in the 2015 MCA’s  in Math and Reading proficiency between white and black students in Saint Paul Public Schools .

I am here to tell you as a Candidate for the Saint Paul School Board,  New Leadership is on the way, and a New Superintendent is needed to hire a staff  that has the common sense to know that Government does the People it is supposed to serve, no favor by turning off their television cameras, so Citizens who used to watch the school board meetings at home, now can not see or hear what the People are saying at Public Comment

Amazingly the  Board Members attempt to defend this because Public Comment  has been taken off the official School Board’s Regular Meeting Agenda; really, I can’t make this stuff up, and they passed it on a 6 to 1 vote with only John Brodrick opposed, as he was to giving Superintendent Silva a three year contract extension in March 2015 with only minimal public comment. On November 3, 2015 Voters can return common sense and transparency so we can begin to reform the Public Policy work of the Saint Paul School Board!

GREG COPELAND

ALL  MINDS  MATTER!

Saint Paul School Board Candidate

 

Making St Paul a Manufacturing Center again starts with K-12 Education

St Paul once boasted of being a Manufacturing Center with 3M, Hamms, Whirlpool, and Ford. Now after the departure of the last ones 3M and Ford, St Paul is a shell of its former self. The local government still taxes residents as if they still work in a growing manufacturing center. The entrenched one party elected officials are not dealing with reality.
————-
Those elected officials have no idea how to attract a new industrial/ commercial base. You can’t grow jobs by government fiat. This is evident from all the new food and business chains that start up just outside of the city limits.
————- 
How does one attract manufacturers back to St Paul? Lower property and income taxes and getting rid of other fees like wheelage taxes, or parking meters make living here easier for skilled workers but is it the key? No. It starts with K-12 Education.
————— 
Good schools are attractive to young professionals looking to plant
roots here. Unfortunately Strong Schools Strong Communities approach by Superintendent Valeria Silva is an utter failure.
—————
Valeria Silva is championed by the SPPS School Board incumbent Keith Hardy as being innovative and progressive. The latter we agree with, innovation comes from several years of experience which Silva does not possess.
————-
Silva has been learning on the job since she got the job in 2009. A brilliant teacher as some people claim may be debatable; she clearly does not have administrative skills. Why did the SPPS Board hire her, then retain her with a new contract?  They do not have great administrative skills either. They spend taxpayer money per student at rates comparable to and exceed private schools around the Metro and yet MCA scores are consistently at or near the bottom of all sorts of categories.
————– 
Industrial countries like Germany and Japan, students are tested in the middle school grades to see where their skills and interests lie. If the students are orientated toward industrial arts and the trades they are sent to vocational high schools and book smart students are sent to college prep high schools. While they normally do not get a well rounded education they don’t steer students toward college that don’t belong there.
————— 
Apprenticeships in high school in Japan and Germany are not uncommon as they are here in the US, it certainly is a direction that a potential manufacturing center must have.
———
Though you don’t have to look overseas for inspiration, you can look to the White Bear Lake Area Schools.  They have a new program called Manufacturing Pathways.
——
“to improve workforce readiness for our students and to address industry needs. This initiative is very important to the local business community as a strong, skilled workforce is an essential component to ensuring economic vitality of our industries.”–White Bear Lake Area Schools Community e-Newsletter 9/20/15
———————— 
Greg Copeland and other Conservatives have mentioned this before the SPPS Board in the past, but it falls on deaf ears. It was suggested that there should be Industrial Arts High Schools in St Paul and AP courses that would allow students to attend Dunwoody or other Vocational Colleges in the Metro.
——— 
This idea of teaching vocational classes in school isn’t new.  Yet it has to be must for anchoring manufacturers who want to relocate to St Paul.  Philadelphia, PA has a similar program at the Randolph Technical High School.
——— 
“The goal is to graduate kids who have options. They can go on to a community college or a four-year degree program. They can also start a career with a marketable skill and three years of training behind them, making them more likely to secure a job and higher wages, instead of floundering out in the job market, where more than 10 percent of young adults with only a high school diploma are unemployed and more than 20 percent live in poverty, according to Pew Research Center.”–“Today’s High School Students Need more Vocational Training,” by Annie Holmquist writing for Better-Ed, 9/25/15
——
Sounds familiar?  The biggest problem in St Paul Public Schools is poverty.  Which is from parents who can’t afford to find proper paying jobs in a city that was a former great manufacturing center.
———
Now St Paul is a poverty collection center.
———- 
Let’s change this and make St Paul a manufacturing center again by bringing back vocational training and the industrial arts.
————

SPPS Policy: No Punishment for “Continual Willful Disobedience”

This post was copied from the The Star Tribune, written by Anthony Lonetree on October 21, 2015.  The content has not been altered.  Some links have been dropped, color and fonts changed for emphasis. ~~ Publius Jr.


Loaded gun found in backpack at St. Paul’s Harding High

Incident adds to safety concerns after fights at Como and Humboldt Highs. Also. police at Central High had to use a Taser on a disruptive student.
——- 

itemprop

St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva said “safety is a priority,” after the gun incident at Harding and fights at other high schools.

 

Concerns around safety in the St. Paul Public Schools flared anew Wednesday when it was discovered that a student brought a loaded handgun into a Harding Senior High School classroom.

The gun never left the student’s backpack, and was recovered by staff during a search for marijuana, which also was found, Principal Doug Revsbeck said. He added: “As far as we know, there was no intent to use the weapon in the building.”

But while no threats were made to students or staff, Superintendent Valeria Silva summoned reporters to district headquarters to speak about the handgun’s discovery — saying the incident was “alarming” — and to answer questions about recent fights at Como Park and Humboldt high schools.

“It’s a pretty sad day for me as a superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools to be standing here and talking about issues of violence,” Silva said.

She wanted to assure students, families and district employees, she said, that “safety is a priority,” and she called on the community to unite behind efforts to help children and families dealing with outside pressures that they may carry with them into the schools.

Questions about safety and the district’s perceived leniency toward students who misbehave have lingered in the state’s second-largest school system.

At Como Park High, Roy Magnuson, a social studies teacher who witnessed a Sept. 24 brawl outside the school that was described by police as a “riot,” noted that the fights have continued. Principal Theresa Neal acknowledged another six this week.

Said Magnuson, “We have a segment of kids who consider themselves untouchable.”

Silva denied that district policies have contributed to the troubles. District spokeswoman Toya Stewart Downey, asked later if the superintendent created a culture in which some students believed they could get away with anything, also rejected the premise. She pointed to penalties outlined in the student behavior handbook as evidence.

Three years ago, the district removed “continual willful disobedience” from the list of suspendable violations in that document. But on the subject of possession or use of a firearm, it states clearly that there is to be “zero tolerance,” and it requires the principal to notify police and refer the student for expulsion.

Revsbeck, in a letter to families Wednesday, wrote that police were investigating the incident at Harding.

Also Wednesday, a Como Park teacher was hurt when responding to a fight that started between two students and ultimately involved six more, and police had to use a Taser on a disruptive student at Central High School.

Central Principal Mary Mackbee, who has been with the district for 47 years, said it was not unusual for students to act out at the start of a year, and to settle down as it progresses.

The district has no plans to deploy additional personnel in response to ongoing fights, Stewart Downey said. But it does plan to train staff members on how to de-escalate a situation so it doesn’t involve more students, said Jackie Turner, the district’s chief engagement officer.

To those who may call for students to be kicked out of school, Turner added: “You’re not going to hear that from me.”

Anthony Lonetree

St Paul Taxpayers taking it in the shorts Again for Silva’s White Privilege Conference

The following post was copied from AlphanewsMN.com.  We have not altered the content of the article.  We have changed the font, added color for emphasis, dropped some links, and posted the Benner YouTube video and the opulent 2014 PEG promo video from New Orleans. One of the disturbing things that is missing from the PEG promo video is who are representing the Asians, Latinos, and American Indians. ~~ Publius Jr.


Minnesota well-represented at White Privilege conference

PEG questionnaire via their 2014 Courageous Conversations promo video

Pacific Educational Group (PEG) a for-profit company headquartered in San Francisco, CA, has been bilking Minnesota taxpayers out of millions of dollars for nearly a decade.  The company makes promises to erase racial disparities when school districts agree to engage their staff in conversations about white privilege and white culture. PEG’s annual “Summit for Courageous Conversations on Race” kicked off in Baltimore on Saturday, and over one-fourth of the “equity leaders” from schools presenting at the conference are from Minnesota.

The 5-day summit is being held at the $300+ per night Marriott Renaissance Harborplace Hotel [Baltimore, MD] and features dining and entertainment along with work sessions such as:

  • Leading While White:  Courageous Conversation for Activism, for Application to Interruption 
  • Trust me, Gay is not the new Black– or Brown, Yellow, or Red for that Matter!
  • #Systems of Mass Destruction Are Unapologetically Oppressing BlacklivesthatMatter!  (being presented by the West Metro Education Program in Minneapolis)
  • One-man play performance:  “Cops and Robbers” to “analyze officer involved shooting from various perspectives”

PEG hosted a regional summit in the Twin Cities last spring, so why spend taxpayer money to send Minnesota educators across the country? Because PEG is deeply entrenched in the gopher state.  Many Minnesota teachers and administrators have received recognition awards from the company including Valeria Silva, Superintendent of St. Paul Schools and Daniel Jett, current Superintendent of St. Cloud Schools.  St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has been a booster and has provided testimonials of support for PEG.

According to the conference program, at least 33 Minnesota teachers, staff, and administrators are attending the conference this week:

  • Osseo Schools sent at least six staff members who are presenting, total attendees and cost are not yet known
  • Robbinsdale Schools sent four staff members at a cost of $8,235
  • St. Louis Park Schools sent at least five staff members, total attendees and cost are not yet known
  • West Metro Education program in Minneapolis sent at least two staff members, total attendees and cost are not yet known
  • St. Paul Schools confirmed registration expenses for 11 staff members attending the conference, including Superintendent Valeria Silva and CEO of the district, Michelle Walker
  • Minneapolis Schools and did not respond to our request for total cost and number of attendees, Emily Palmer, Principal at Sanford Middle School is presenting at the conference
  • Bemidji State University sent at least one staff member to the conference
  • Mankato State University sent three attendees, including Jean Haar, Dean for the College of Education

One of the four featured speakers in Baltimore is also from Minnesota, former Eden Prairie Superintendent Melissa Krull, who became the co-founder of the Institute in Arts & Sciences for Courageous Principal Leadershipat Mankato State University. Krull has received past leadership awards from PEG and is now their “Distinguished National Educator.”  The former Superintendent left Eden Prairie Schools shortly after forcing through a controversial busing boundary change which remains in effect today.

PEGOriginally founded by Glenn Singleton as a consulting company to help kids of all races get into Ivy League colleges, PEG morphed into a critical race theory-fueled training company for schools looking for answers to solving the “achievement gap” revealed after implementation of the federal “No Child Left Behind” law.  Singleton authored “Courageous Conversations” in 2005 and the book is sold to schools as a training guide to accompany PEG’s consulting services.  “Racial predictability” and “white culture” are the primary reasons for poor student achievement among “black and brown” students, according to PEG.

St. Paul schools uses the “Courageous Conversation Protocol” throughout the district. Singleton told the Pioneer Press in 2013 “St. Paul Public Schools and schools across the Twin Cities are doing a dreadful job of educating all students, we have partnered with the district to make sure race matters.”

So how are they doing?  None of the 70+ schools in the St. Paul district received “reward school” designation from the state Department of Education this year according to the Star Tribune, who did a story on closing the achievement gaps in September.  According to EAG News. who did a data request to the St. Paul district, $3 million has been spent with PEG since 2010.

One African-American teacher in the district, Aaron Anthony Benner, questioned the training and said he was almost fired for complaining about discipline measures based on PEG concepts. Back in 2011, a student in his classroom punched him, yet was immediately returned into his classroom.  Benner believes things have gotten worse in St. Paul schools, and is no longer a teacher in the district.

Other Minnesota districts that have used taxpayer funds to pay PEG for consulting include: Edina, Anoka-Hennepin, Eden Prairie, Rosemount-Eagan-Apple Valley, Bloomington, Duluth, Farmington, Inver Grove Heights, Hopkins, Lakeville, Rochester, Roseville, Richfield, North St. Paul-Maplewood Oakdale, South Washington County, St. Cloud, Spring Lake Park, and Wayzata.

SPPS Board’s Answer to The Gap: Take a White Privilege Survey

The following was copied from the www.better-ed.org/blog/take-white-privilege-survey website.  This is the kind of survey Pacific Educational Group gives to School Districts that want to address the achievement gap.  They believe that The Gap exists because of “institutional racism.”  Keith Hardy, an unendorsed DFL incumbent seeking reelection, champions this initiative to achieve “Racial Equity.”  Let’s be honest, the SPPS Board of Education gave up trying to educate children decades ago.  Their real aim is to indoctrinate children to their belief system or faith in the state.  Please remember this when you vote…remember Benner, and Copeland two candidates for real change.  ~~ Publius Jr.


Take a White Privilege Survey

Below is a white privilege survey that has been administered to teachers and students across the nation by Pacific Educational Group—a consultant for many public school districts. Do you feel that materials such as these help improve America’s education system?

 

 

Soucheray: SPPS Cover Up of Riots and Teacher Beaten by Kids

The following post was copied from the Pioneer Press and posted. No content was altered, but fonts, content was indented and color were added for effect. A link to the Pacific Educational Group (PEG) was added. It has audio of their webinars where they talk in gobbledygook that no one understands, or is willing to admit.  No one stands up to these bullies (except Benner, and Copeland).  This is what St Paul Property Owners are paying for. ~~ Publius Jr


Soucheray: St. Paul schools’ cover-up of bad behavior only harms the kids

POSTED:   10/12/2015 11:49:56 AM CDT | UPDATED:   A DAY AGO

Joe Soucheray

Joe Soucheray

According to a report in the Pioneer Press the other day, fights have recently broken out at a couple of St. Paul high schools, Como Park and Humboldt.

Fights have probably been breaking out in schools since the days of bringing a polished apple to the marm in the one-room shack.

But it is too charitable to call what happened at Como and Humboldt a fight. According to the police reports, they more accurately bordered on riots, with officers describing the scenes as chaotic, tense and dangerous. The kids are rushing at each other in unruly gang-like behavior, not even having the decency to take the trouble outside. No matter how you read it, you are left with the sinking feeling that these are not only poorly parented youth, but that school administrators are trying to cover up the behavior.

The fight at Humboldt apparently started in the lunchroom and might have been hormonal in nature, something about a girl. The initial fight was broken up, only to flare into more heated action minutes later. A school officer saw staffers trying to hold a door closed as students attempted to force their way through it to get to the fight.

According to Steve Linders, St. Paul police spokesman, “an officer reported seeing a female teacher on the ground and students stomping on her during the fight.”

Administrators trying to cover up the behavior? Toya Stewart Downey, St. Paul Public Schools spokeswoman, said “a staff member fell while trying to break up the fight and was not stomped on.”

Who are you going to believe, an officer who was in the middle of this crap or the mouthpiece for a bureaucracy so bloated in acronyms that they don’t know if they are on foot or horseback?

I’m going with the cop. You’ve got kids in a St. Paul high school who were beating up a teacher.

One problem: The school administrators are enamored of one of their newest acronyms, PBIS, or Positive Behavior Intervention Support.

Or, we have the impressive-sounding School Climate Improvement Team.

That’s why the schools cost so much. They are top-heavy in consultants, assistants to assistants, behavior specialists, administrators and factotums with clipboards who follow the Super around.

The administrators are counterproductive. The teachers say that. Because there is a school board mandate to reduce out-of-school suspensions, students are being punished less severely for misbehavior.

In other words, kids not to be trusted to learn are kept in school — the numbers must look good! — at the expense of the kids who are trying to get an education.

Make yourself aware of the writings of or the stories about Aaron Anthony Benner, who most recently wrote an editorial for this newspaper Oct. 4. Benner taught for years at St. Paul elementary schools and dealt with such poor behavior that he routinely addressed the school board, only to be ignored. I have spoken with Benner. He believes kids should be thrown out of school. But the schools have paid millions of dollars to a San Francisco-based consultant group, PEG, or Pacific Education Group, which has planted the idea that if a minority kid acts up, it is not the kid’s fault but the fault of systemic racism.

Benner, who is black, does not buy it. He dropped out of the race for school board, which is a loss to us all, to focus on his new job as the African-American liaison/behavior coach at Community of Peace Academy, a public charter school in St. Paul.

Benner concluded his Oct. 4 editorial by pointing out that PEG and SPPS are harming the very people whose interests they claim to represent.

Follow the money,” Benner wrote. “The taxpayers of St. Paul should demand to know who exactly is benefiting from PEG. Students definitely aren’t.”

Joe Soucheray can be reached at jsoucheray@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5474. Soucheray is heard from 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays on 1500ESPN.

MN Achievement Gap 2015 Forum Shows Only 1 Candidate for Change

On September 17, 2015, the Minnesota Achievement Gap Candidate Forum only had one candidate that was for change in the way the St Paul Public Schools (SPPS) operates.  That candidate was Greg Copeland.  One of only two candidates from the East Side of St Paul.  Of those two candidates, only Greg Copeland is for Firing Superintendent Valeria Silva.  Her “Strong Schools, Strong Communities,” approach has been a failure.  The other East Side Candidate, Keith Hardy, an unendorsed 27 year DFLer, has championed Superintendent Silva’s policies during his 8 year reign on the SPPS.  He has championed the Racial Equity program that is now brainwashing teachers, students, and parents to believe that the cause of the “Achievement Gap,” is Racism.  Instead of sending money to the Pacific Educational Group (PEG), Greg believes that money could be better spent in the classroom on the students.

The following video runs almost 1.5 hours.

%d bloggers like this: