Bishop Harry Jackson: Here’s Something That Might Narrow the Black-White Education Gap

The following is from Black Community News, originally posted on September 25, 2016 by Bishop Harry Jackson.  As always this post’s content has not been altered, the headline is the same as the article.  Ads and some links have been deleted.  ~~ Publius Jr.

September 25, 2016

classroom“You’re getting your inheritance early.” Those were my father’s words to me as he explained that he was taking money that he might have left me in his will and spending it on my private school tuition. My father’s reasoning was that I would be able to create more wealth for his grandchildren if he invested in my education. Thanks to his wisdom, I would go on to graduate from Williams, one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the nation and to obtain my MBA from Harvard.

Besides my parents’ willingness to sacrifice for my education—a decision my wife and I also made with our own two daughters—there was another key facet of my upbringing that a growing body of research has demonstrated to be extremely helpful to academic achievement. I was born to married parents, and they stayed married. This has turned out to be more important to long term success than both household income and race.

A recent study of Florida schools revealed a paradox: highly ranked schools were producing only modest student achievement. But a deeper look turned up a likely explanation. The Institute for Family Studies found that, “the share of married-parent families in a county is one of the strongest predictors of high-school graduation rates for Florida counties; indeed, it’s a more powerful predictor than family income, race or ethnicity.”

It is not hard to imagine why children growing up in households headed by married couples generally have better educational outcomes. Married couples are typically able to provide more emotionally and financially stable environments for children, offering them more attention, supervision and opportunities than most single parents are able to provide. Naturally, the fact that far more black families are headed by single parents has implications for black educational achievement.

In short, to close the education gap, we need to work on closing the marriage gap, something which is widely misunderstood. For several years, conventional wisdom has maintained that traditional marriage is a thing of the past. Although marriage is indeed declining among Americans of all races and income levels, it is declining far more quickly in certain demographic groups. Writing in FiveThirtyEight, Ben Casselman explained, “Affluent, college-educated Americans are increasingly delaying marriage until their 30s. But they aren’t abandoning marriage altogether; in fact, they appear likely to get married at close to the same rate as past generations. They rarely have children outside of marriage, and they are relatively unlikely to get divorced.” Meanwhile, lower income, less educated Americans are not just delaying marriage; many are forgoing it altogether. When they do get married, they are also much more likely to get divorced.

The loosening of sexual morality—which cuts across class and income—has had a disproportionately destructive effect on the poor and less educated. Out of wedlock childbearing leads to children being raised in less stable environments and increases the likelihood that those children will not graduate from high school. The answer that is most often put forward for this is greater access to condoms to mitigate the consequences of sexually promiscuous behavior. Yet a recent study conducted by the University of Notre Dame entitled The Incidental Fertility Effects of School Condom Distribution Programs, found that access to condoms in schools led to a 10 percent increase in teen births, rather than a decrease.

Unfortunately, if these trends aren’t addressed effectively, the alarming inequality in our society will only get worse. The best curriculum and the most dedicated teachers can never fully compensate for dysfunctional or unstable families. So what can we do to strengthen families? It stands to reason that if married parents have such a positive effect on student performance, we should at the very least eliminate policies that punish couples for marrying. The government may be limited in its ability to help families, but it certainly shouldn’t undermine them.

Beyond public policy, I believe communities of faith are uniquely suited to strengthen marriages and to encourage and facilitate parents’ involvement in their children’s education. Churches, synagogues and temples can and must fearlessly preach the value of marriage. They should actively encourage young people to enter into healthy marriages and offer both living examples of successful marriages as well as learning opportunities for skills such as communication, home management and the care and discipline of children.

Faith communities can also support the education of children of single parents. In addition to supervised study time and tutoring, they can provide mentorship for the aspects of achievement that are not directly related to academics. These include things like helping parents interact with teachers and school administrators and assistance with the college selection and application process.

Any plan to heal the racial divide must address the education gap. And no plan to close that gap will succeed unless it works to strengthen families.

Photo credit: Alan Alfaro (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved

HarryJacksonBishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD.

The views expressed in opinion articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Black Community News.


Greg Copeland Talks about Education with Hmong on Oct 16, 2010

It’s been 6 years since Greg Copeland addressed a forum put together by the Hmong American Veterans Association and the Capital City Business Council at “Downtown Lav 52 Km” Restaurant at the Days Inn Maplewood.  This Hmong Community Forum was for candidates to meet the Hmong Community.  At the time the Senate District 66 seat was held by entrenched career politician Ellen Anderson and Greg Copeland was the Republican endorsed Candidate.

Candidate Greg Copeland talked about the opportunities that the Hmong People had been given and how their hard work had blossomed in the areas of business and in education–particularly in charter schools.  Greg Copeland then talked about how the State of Minnesota, and the City of St Paul have disrespected Hmong business owners who had businesses on University Ave by taking away parking in favor of a Light Rail line.

Greg Copeland talks about other issues that face Hmong and other people being that it is a forum for Minnesota Legislative Offices.

He talks about how he thinks, “Government can be a Bully,” but ironically they are pushing to end bullying in schools.

Years later at a St Paul City Council Meeting Greg would stand up for Arjo Adams who was eventually run off his property because the City called St Paul wanted to put in a new access to the Bruce Vento bike trail.  Arjo was a bit eccentric but he was not what the bullies on the City Council portrayed him to be.  The code enforcement inspectors “found” things that gave the City cause to condemn then knock down Arjo’s house.  It is much like the health inspection case Greg talks about in the video below.

Greg Copeland is a fighter, a champion for the people, and for kids who just want to learn without being beat up or threatened; or told they can’t achieve because of the color of their skin or what country their parents came from, or that their parents can’t afford all the technological gizmos other kids have.

Kids and Teachers deserve someone who will stand against “The Other Party,” to hold the St Paul Public Schools Administration accountable for their actions.

Vote Greg Copeland on November 8, 2016.

Black Students Can Benefit from School Choice and Charter Schools

The following article was copied and pasted from the Black Community News that Star Parker puts together.  The article’s content is not altered.  We have added font color and changed font styles, and have set off a section of the article in quotes to add emphasis  ~~ Publius Jr.

Black School-Choice Advocate to NAACP: Talk to Parents and Children Touched By School Choice

BCN Editor October 5, 2016

Virginia Walden Ford, a national board member and a founding member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), wrote an op-ed for the Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal about the NAACP opposing school choice and the growth of charter schools.

The organization is part of a teachers union lawsuit in Florida to eliminate a scholarship program that helps low-income families. The NAACP also drafted a resolution calling for a moratorium on new charter schools.

“The NAACP, which was started to support the rights of black people, is now taking a position that, in my opinion, only hurts black children and other children of color’s chance of getting a quality education in this country through access to school choice,” Ford wrote. “Involving itself in lawsuits against the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program seems counter to their mission.”

Ford speaks from personal experience. After her son began failing in school, a neighbor helped her get a scholarship for him to attend a better school.

“Because of that scholarship, he was able to be successful and graduate and move forward with his life. This is what I’ve seen over the years with the children who have had access to school choice, including public charter schools and private and public scholarship programs like the tuition tax credit scholarship program in Florida.”

The NAACP fought against the “separate but equal” doctrine enshrined in law in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, which the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1896.

“But now the NAACP, who fought so hard for us to get the education we deserved in the ’60s, is trying to make it harder for parents to make the same decisions our parents did then on behalf of their children,” Ford wrote. “Threats to school choice options like the Florida tuition tax credit scholarship program create unnecessary limitations for families who can’t get access to quality education simply because they live in the ‘wrong ZIP code’ or don’t have resources to attend quality private schools.

The BAEO co-authored a letter to the NAACP, asking to meet with the organization before it passed the anti-school choice resolution.

“My hope is that the NAACP and other leaders in the African-American community who support these lawsuits in Florida will spend a moment talking to the parents and children who have been touched by school choice.”

Photo credit: By Jbak87 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Why Do We Need Another Like Minded DFLer on This School Board?

We have a clear cut choice this November 8th.  Do we elect more education insiders, or members of the teachers union, or do we go with someone who is tired of seeing property tax levies increase for a school district that has seen a steady decline in the number of children who can function properly in society beyond the walls of St Paul Public Schools?  Graduating 75% of the students is not good enough.  That means 25% are doomed to fail.

Greg Copeland thinks that the students in St Paul Public Schools are being underserved by a top down school district that spends money on Race Equity Training for students when that money should go directly to the classroom for better trained teachers and school counselors.

Parents have opted to send their children to some place other than St Paul Public Schools because the current school board wants to keep dangerous students that are violent, bring guns, and sell dope at schools.  Those students are not tossed out to protect the students who do want to learn, and teachers who want to teach and not cower at their desks to the threats of mobs of students that might beat them up and leave them with a brain injury.  The Teachers Union group that took over the board last year didn’t bring change until it was obvious when teachers and students are being beaten up that something or someone had to go.  All throughout the 2015 Campaign the 4 DFL endorsed candidates kept saying they weren’t going to expel students that were violent, nor were they were going to fire Silva.

It isn’t just about student violence, it is becoming a hostile learning environment for Students of Faith.  Students who know that the Inclusive Policy on Transgenders is wrong and when they speak up saying that it is wrong they are the ones who are called to the principal’s office.  Why should girls have to put up with boys who want to use their bathrooms or locker rooms. Why should Students of Faith stay?

Josh Verges, the education reporter for the St Paul Pioneer Press, wrote an excellent report on Sept 16, 2016, on why families are choosing to take their children out of the St Paul Public Schools for schools that are safer, have challenging academic standards, and an approachable staff.

We have not altered the content of the article.  We did turn off links and deleted ads.  ~~ Publius Jr.

Why are families leaving St. Paul schools?

PUBLISHED: September 16, 2016 at 8:05 pm | UPDATED: September 19, 2016 at 12:55 pm

After two false starts, St. Paul Public Schools has quit trying to figure out why families are leaving the district for other schools.

The school board declared enrollment to be a priority soon after four new members took office in January. But the first budget they passed — which prioritized direct school funding over district-level support — has undermined an effort to understand why students are enrolling in charter, private and neighboring schools.

Jackie Turner, chief operations officer, said the budget cuts forced the placement office to lay off the employee who administered a first-of-its-kind survey to families that left the district during the last school year.

“The position has been cut. This was not something that the community supported. Our community really wanted money to go to the schools,” Turner said in an interview.

Board chairman Jon Schumacher said he’d like data on what attracts families to the district and what’s pushing them away.

“I’m interested in understanding what our strengths and what our challenges are as a district,” he said. “These are all numbers that are really critical.”

But Schumacher stopped short of saying he’d push to make sure there’s money for surveys in the next budget.

He said school principals would be another source of information on what’s causing people to leave.

K-12 enrollment has been fairly flat in recent years, down 153 in five years. But it’s fallen far short of internal projections as St. Paul students have opted instead for charter schools and suburban district schools.

Their departures have exacerbated budget woes. The district now is preparing for a third straight year of spending cuts.


The district began conducting exit surveys under the previous school board.

Turner told the board in spring 2015 that they would survey the parents of the 147 kindergarteners who had left during the school year but still lived at the same address.

“We want to use that data to better inform how we work with our schools,” she told them.

That small effort begat a more comprehensive study into the motivations of 1,790 families that withdrew their 2,243 children from district schools between October 2015 and March 2016.

Beyond learning why they left, the district sought to make contact with individual families and discuss how they might bring them back. But the effort fell flat.

The district got responses from just 101 families, a 6 percent response rate. And of those, 40 families said they withdrew because they moved to a home outside St. Paul, making them unlikely candidates to return to a city school.

Turner identified some additional flaws in the survey’s administration: surveys were not sent immediately after a family withdrew; they were sent out only in English; and the district didn’t have the available staff to follow up with families.

The data they were able to collect, through multiple-choice questions, pointed to familiar themes. Parents cited safety concerns, unresponsive staff members and a lack of rigor in the classroom.

“I don’t think it provided the results that we were intending to receive in order to use it as a document to determine the reasons why families left,” Turner said.

Why They Left St Paul Public Schools Bar Graph

Turner said the district would have refined the survey for future years but doesn’t have the people to do that work.

“This would have gotten better each and every year we would have done it. We didn’t have an opportunity to do that,” she said.


Joe Nathan, founder and senior fellow at the Center for School Change, said stakeholder surveys are a basic function for an organization. He said that beyond the reasons families pick district schools or don’t, the board should understand what parents think of arts classes, special education support and parent training programs, for example.

“I think it’s very important for the system, if it wants to grow, to understand the specific concerns,” he said.

Monica Haas, a parent who fought to protect schools from budget cuts this year, said surveys are worth the cost if they ultimately boost enrollment.

“If you look at the amount of money we’re losing just based on enrollment … that money alone is worth putting some actual effort in looking at why people are leaving,” she said. “But you have to do it in the right way.”

Haas moved three of her daughters out of district schools before they reached middle school.

She said one daughter was threatened with a hunting knife by a child who was back in class the next day. Another daughter’s teacher suggested they try a different school because with other high-need students in class, she didn’t have enough time for the girl. The third, she said, spent a day shadowing her assigned middle school and was unimpressed by what she saw.

“I still hold out hope for my youngest daughter,” now a third-grader, she said.

Haas, who was running in the special election for school board until she failed to secure the DFL endorsement, said she’s heard a variety of concerns from other parents. Whether it’s elementary arts classes, special education services or smaller classes for English language learners, they are issues the district can and should address, she said.

“There are very specific reasons why these families are bolting,” she said. “I really want this district to succeed, and I don’t think they can do it unless they really look at why people are leaving.”

Soucheray: It won’t make any Difference who the Super is. No Difference at all

This story was copied from Joe Soucheray, a columnist at the Pioneer Press.  The story was originally published in the Pioneer Press on June 17, 2016.  We have not altered the content, but have closed some links and added a different headline.  ~~ Publius Jr.

St. Paul Public Schools superintendent Valeria Silva is interviewed in her office in St. Paul on Friday, February 5, 2016. (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)
St. Paul Public Schools superintendent Valeria Silva is interviewed in her office in St. Paul on Friday, February 5, 2016. (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

Soucheray: Another search. Another superintendent. Another member of the Super Club.

June 17, 2016

What can be said on Valeria Silva’s behalf is that it won’t make any difference who succeeds her. That isn’t exactly the gift of a gold watch, but as a school superintendent who might get bought out of her contract, she can buy a watch manufacturing company.

It is called the Super Club. Most of us have been on to it for years. School superintendents have a better gig than NFL coaches and are surrounded by at least as many assistants, sycophants, factotums and manservants. Supers come into your town and tell you important things about the community and how they intend to have the students rise above the fray. They tell us that we all have to work together and believe in the great promise of education and, oh, by the way, we need more money. Soucheray

Supers are rainmakers. They always need more money.
Silva isn’t at all unique. She can be a super with the best of them. They are all untouchable and they all land on their feet. You might say, well, they are touchable, because they can be removed by school boards. Yes, and then comes the landing-on-their-feet part. Silva succeeded Meria Carstarphen. They all last about three to five years on average, though Silva has outlasted the average. Their act wears thin and new school board members who are eager to tell us that they know what they are doing better than the super start grumbling, and the next thing you know, the taxpayers are on the hook to buy the super out of a contract.

Carstarphen went from St. Paul to, I believe, Austin, Texas, and is now the super in Atlanta.

It doesn’t make any difference. A great fuss and bother will be made to hire a consultant and scour the nation for the next best answer, and it just doesn’t make any difference.

Silva is being held accountable by a grumbling school board for falling reading scores and student violence. What was Silva supposed to have done, visit each home in the city and read to a kid? Falling reading scores are an inattentive parent problem.

Silva presumably can be held accountable, at least in part, for the appalling increase in the lousy behavior of students. She had to be a part of the brain trust that bought into a San Francisco consultant group called the Pacific Education Group. They came in here and sold a bill of goods that said, basically, if a minority kid acts up, it isn’t the minority kid’s fault. It is the fault of systemic racism and therefore the kid should be excused and not too severely disciplined.

That works real well. You would think that after a few teachers suffered concussions after fights with violent students, they would dump that horse manure, but that’s not what supers do. When you get in the Super Club, you defend tooth and nail your brilliant decisions, even when they are complete failures.

Oh, it is a wonderful, exclusive club. In the first place, once you are a super, you are rarely seen by the public. Carstarphen lived on Summit Avenue near Fairview. I know a guy in that neighborhood who knows everybody in that neighborhood, one of those guys. He never once saw Carstarphen, not even out for a walk. Not once.

Supers surround themselves with about 100 assistants, each of whom has a clipboard and a laptop and are on alert to tell the super when to go to her next meeting. Even as Silva’s buyout is being considered, the district faces a $15.1 million deficit. Nevermind that that is inexcusable. You want to know where you could save the money? Go to 360 S. Colborne St., the district castle, and thin the herd of redundant bureaucrats and administrators. That’s another thing supers do. They bring in more people to pile on top of the people that the previous super brought in.

Go ahead and buy her out for $600,000, a longevity bonus, a car allowance and 32 vacation days. She might even have to emerge at some school as a teacher or an administrator, but that part of her contract is unlikely to be realized. She is, after all, a super.

And then get ready for the next expensive dog and pony show which will be exactly like all preceding dog and pony shows.

It won’t make any difference who the super is. No difference at all.

Joe Soucheray

Our Schools need to Embrace Capitalism & School Choice.

This is from Star Parker’s Urban CURE website (Center for Urban Renewal and Education).  The content hasn’t been altered, only color and font type have changed for emphasis and some parts of Star’s column are set aside in quotes for emphasis as well. ~~ Publius Jr.

New evidence supporting school choice

Why should our education system be shielded from capitalism, the competitive forces that produce excellence?

By Star Parker | Syndicated nationally by Creators

A groundbreaking new study from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas provides state of the art data showing the benefits of school choice.

The bottom line: When parents have choice where to send their child to school, their children perform better in reading and math tests.

Patrick J. Wolf, one of the authors, summarizes the results:

According to their “meta-analysis of 19 ‘gold standard’ experimental evaluations of the test-score effects of private school choice programs around the world. The sum of reliable evidence indicates that, on average, private school choice increases the reading scores of choice users by about 0.27 standard deviations and their math scores by 0.17 standard deviations. These are highly significant, educationally meaningful achievement gains of several months of additional learning from school choice.”

The idea of school choice and school vouchers was pioneered in the 1950s by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. However, it has not been until recent years that the idea started picking up steam.

According to Wolf, “there are now 50 private school choice programs in 26 states plus the District of Columbia. Well over half have been enacted in the past five years.”

About 1.3 million students are in these programs, compared to 50 million students enrolled in our public schools.

There are various approaches to providing school choice: vouchers, education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships and individual tax credits and deductions.

There has been much back and forth over recent years, with various studies claiming to show no benefits from school choice and even negative effects. Other studies have shown positive results and are supportive. The authors of this latest research report their results with great conviction and feel they have produced the most comprehensive, thorough, and unbiased work on this subject to date.

But no matter. Those opposed will most likely stay opposed because, like in many, maybe all, areas of public policy, it’s really about interests and ideology and not about science. Those who want to keep things the way they are will ignore studies and research or find ways to rationalize why the results are not conclusive.

However, a black mother, whose child is trapped in a failing urban public school, doesn’t need research to inform her that it is a good idea to give her control to pull that child out of that school and send him or her to a different one. It’s obvious.

Capitalism works so well because failure is punished and success is rewarded. Why should one of the most crucial institutions of our society — our education system — be shielded from the competitive forces that produce excellence? Why should failure be allowed to go on forever just because unions have power and parents don’t?

Furthermore, when we measure education we look at test scores in reading and math. But education is about more than reading and math. It is about transmitting principles and values. Where are the tests that measure whether children are learning the right values?

The progression of court decisions over the years extracting any trace of religion from public schools correlate with changes in attitudes among our youth about sex and family. Back in 1962, when prayer was banished from public schools, less then 10 percent of our babies were born to unwed mothers. Today, it is 43 percent.

Over the same period, the percentage of black families headed by a single parent jumped from 20 percent to 70 percent. In these troubled communities, the option to send a child to a Christian school, to learn and digest Christian values, can be a lifeline to the future. Why in our free country should this be prevented?

Now we have powerful research showing that competition improves test scores in reading and math. This just bolsters the intuitive notion that parents should have control over where they send their child to school.

Star Parker

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

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

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 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!



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.


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

%d bloggers like this: