A thriving and vibrant Minneapolis requires excellent and strong public schools that serve the unique needs of our diverse student body. I’ve focused my school board work on building a strong stable foundation. We achieved a structurally balanced budget FY14 and FY15, strategically spent reserves to address overcrowding by expanding schools, a balanced budget in FY19, reducing administration and redirecting money to schools, revamped our discipline practices, passed policy that applies an equity and diversity impact assessment to our decision-making, and increased quality authentic stakeholder engagement. Upon this foundation we have been able to do long range enrollment planning, reducing administration and redirecting more resources to schools. We hired a Superintendent in 2016 that promised to educate the whole child, focusing on social emotional learning and a strong system of behavior and academic supports for students.
In my two terms on the Minneapolis School Board, I am proud of the work I’ve accomplished with fellow board members and community leaders, including:
- Addressing overcrowding in classrooms by reopening and expanding schools throughout the city including Washburn, Southwest, Sanford, Seward, Follwell, Justice Page, Lake Harriet, Keewaydin, Hiawatha, Loring and Webster.
- Addressing the need for access to equitable, quality educational programs throughout Minneapolis by keeping North High open, re-opening Franklin Middle School as a feeder pathway, and putting the IB (International Baccalaureate) program at Olson as a feeder to Henry High School, and providing a space at Longfellow for our TAPP program serving our students who are balancing motherhood on their academic path to graduation.
- Putting forth constructive solutions to protect our schools and students’ academic experience while balancing our current budget with a $33 million deficit.
- I proposed December 2017 to direct the Superintendent to reduce testing, evaluations and data collection to the state minimum, only what is legally required. Having only the support of Directors Jourdain, Felder and Walser, this motion was defeated 5-4.
- I proposed a resolution in March 2018 to further reduce administration and reallocate money to middle and high schools. In April, this resolution passed, providing resources to 16 schools and nearly 12,000 students, saving over 100 school based union jobs, and reversing much of the harm to our middle and high schools that were disparately impacted by the devastating cuts to schools.
- Improving and upgrading school facilities including all of our high school weight rooms, Henry High School, Edison as the only “green” school in Minnesota, air=conditions and fully functioning kitchens.
- Expanding access to recreational services for our students of color by championing the Phillips Pool, Olson Pool and Franklin Pool renovations.
- Protecting the quality of classrooms by re-focusing our priorities to literacy, stewardship, equity, emotional learning, and academics through our Multi-tiered System of Supports.
- Investing in restorative practices, 30 minutes of recess for all elementary students, clinics in all high schools and some of our K-5s and K-8s, and removing toxic tire mulch from our playgrounds.
- Increasing investments for our successful High 5 Early Childhood Program, our English Learner Program, and our Social Emotional Learning services.
- Supporting and working with our families at the local and state level around issues like DACA, Homes for All, and Safe and Supportive Schools.
- Finding the right Superintendent who is committed to increasing stability and alignment in our school district.
- Fully implementing our Farm to School meal program so food is always fresh and sourced locally.
- Working directly with students on issues like gun control, police in schools, cell phone policies, and equitable K-12 arts programming and pathways across our schools.
While on the School Board, I have served various leadership positions—Policy Chair for two years, Treasurer and Finance Chair for four years, and Chair of the Board in 2017. I also had the opportunity to represent the School Board in other capacities at the local and state level including the City Planning Commission, Achieve Minneapolis Board, MN Education Equity Partnership Board, Minneapolis Community & Technical College Concurrent Enrollment Committee, and the MN School Districts Liquid Asset Fund Board.
My experience also entails serving as the School Board representative for both the MN School Board Association (MSBA) and the Association of Metropolitan School Districts (AMSD), where I was Chair of AMSD in 2015-16. MSBA and AMSD function primarily to advocate for PreK-12 education at the State Capitol. A significant amount of my time was spent in legislative committee hearings and working with state legislators, not only in education but in numerous areas that impact our students and families ability to succeed in and outside of the classroom.
In 2012 and again in 2016, I was appointed by the United States Secretary of Education to represent local school boards on the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), an independent and nonpartisan board in charge of policy-making for The Nation’s Report Card. I currently serve as Chair of the Reporting and Dissemination Committee and on the NAGB Executive Committee. As a result of this policy work at the national level, I was able to bring a unique and informed perspective to multiple task forces for the MN Department of Education including the Educator Quality Task Force, the Test Reduction Task Force, and the Teacher Equity Advisory Committee.