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Doug Mann LPN, LNC

SEIU questionnaire - Mpls school board candidates

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Doug Mann for school board

SEIU MN State Council

Candidate Questionnaire - Minneapolis School Board

Responses by Doug Mann

1) Legislation to pool all public school employees in order to purchase health care insurance at a lower rate and ultimately provide more affordable health care for this sector of public employees is being considered at the State Legislature. Would you support this legislative initiative.

It sounds like a good idea. I will certainly support a legislative initiative that makes health care more affordable to public employees. I cannot commit to supporting the particular initiative referenced above until I see the fine print.

2) Do you think that public funds should be turned over to private companies to provide support services in public schools? Are you willing to make sure they are held to the same standards of public disclosure and accountability that public employees are?

I am generally opposed to outsourcing support services. For example, I am opposed to outsourcing the district’s student transportation, and would like to phase out the use of contractors in this area. However, if district employees are not properly trained to perform a certain function, such as program evaluation, I would want to hire a contractor with the needed expertise to direct the work and properly train district employees to do the work. I would also consider outsourcing the work done by [employees in] a program with high overhead costs that served few students. I believe it is reasonable to hold private contractors to the same standards of public disclosure and accountability as public employees, and I am willing to take steps toward that end.

3) Over 40 percent of the students in St. Anthony school district live in Minneapolis, but choose not to go to Minneapolis public schools. What are your thoughts on open enrollment and the impact it has had on our schools? What would you change?

I want to change the way the public schools are run in Minneapolis so that a larger proportion of parents choose the Minneapolis Public Schools. Many parents feel that the Minneapolis Public Schools do not give them acceptable options for educating their children. Many of the MPS programs have unstable staffing, high concentrations of inexperienced teachers, and sort students into groups and classrooms according to academic ability [a practice known as ability-grouping / curriculum tracking].

I believe that the teacher assignment system should be modified so that positions are set aside for newly-hired, inexperience teachers in all school programs. I am opposed to the practice of sending layoff notices to many teachers who are obviously not going to be laid off, as it drives up teacher turnover rates. The revolving door for low-seniority teachers saves the district 10s of millions of dollars each year, but the harm it does to programs that serve a majority of students is too great. Much of the money saved in teacher payroll expenses goes to damage control in schools with the most unstable staffing situations. And I favor phasing out “low-ability” groups / classes and basing instruction on a college-bound curriculum and “gifted and talented“ approaches, such as individualized assessment, planning, and evaluation (which requires teaching skills that take most teachers several years to really master).

4) What is your position on using public funding for private schools (i.e., vouchers)?

I am opposing to public funding for private schools. Yet vouchers have a strong appeal to many parents who have given up on the public schools, i.e., do not see any acceptable options for educating their children in the public schools, at least in Minneapolis. We can’t ignore the fact that many students in the public school system are not receiving an adequate education, and that the fault does not lie entirely with the parents. There are systemic problems in the schools that can be fixed, in my opinion.

5) Would you support efforts to prevent employers from using public money to oppose a union organizing effort? Would you support requiring labor neutrality on the part of any employer who receives public money?

Yes. Yes.

6) Would you support an effort in the Minneapolis school district to raise additional resources through passing a school levy?

Yes, if there is a commitment by the board to use the resources at its disposal in an equitable fashion, and to make a quality public education accessible to all on an equal basis. That includes a clear commitment to comply with the Minnesota Desegregation Rule’s requirement that educational inputs in racially identifiable schools (student of color over-represented) be comparable to schools that are not racially identifiable.

7) Once a collective bargaining agreement is negotiated and signed by the school district and their employees, will you honor the terms of that collective bargaining agreement?

Yes. And if the legality of any of the terms of that collective bargaining agreement are called into question, I would be opposed to the board taking unilateral action to amend the contract.

8) In MPS student transportation is provided by several small and medium sized companies, one large multi-national transportation company (First Student), and in-house drivers who are represented by the Teamsters. As a board member, will you commit to requiring and considering the following data when reviewing and awarding transportation contracts: the direct cost to the district; the rate of employee turnover; the level of pay and benefits; and safety records?

Yes. I support this idea, and will advocate for it. I foresee problems getting contractors to comply, and I would not expect big improvement in conditions of employment as a result of obtaining and considering this data.

9) Given the recent failures of Superintendent hires in Minneapolis and the importance of transparency and accountability in order to restore trust in the public schools, do you support waiting for the new board to be instated before searching for and appointing a new Superintendent?

The board has already decided to appoint a new superintendent, Bill Green, for a period of at least one year. That decision was made behind closed doors. I want the board to discuss matters related to the superintendent search in open meetings with opportunities for public input. I was extremely dissatisfied with the processes used to pick Carol Johnson, Dave Jennings, Thandiwe Peebles, and now Bill Green.

10) What background and attitudes in regards to Unions and Labor Relations do you believe the next Minneapolis School Superintendent must have to create stability and success? How will you make those qualities part of the search for a new SI?

I want a superintendent with experience as a superintendent, with a history of being respectful to school employees and respectful of employee rights, who is comfortable working in a union environment. And we need an open search process. The board needs to take responsibility for it, not hire a private company to do the search.

Candidate questions

CQ1) Why do you want to be a member of the Minneapolis School Board?

I want a serious commitment from board members to making a quality education accessible to all on an equal basis. I believe I am the best qualified candidate who is committed to that proposition.

CQ2) What qualifications do you possess and /or experience have you hade that will make you a good school board member.

I am knowledgeable about education issues. I was active with the Minneapolis NAACP Branch education advocacy committee in 1998 and 1999, and served on the Parents Union board of directors from 1998-2000.

I have been keeping an eye on the Minneapolis School Board (two eyes when I can spare them) since 1997, and have been doing research and writing on education topics.

I have experience as a union shop steward, union bargaining committee delegate, and griever (for a few years in the mid-to-late 1970s). I occasionally challenged the employer's interpretation of contract language and investigated [a couple of](false) allegations of employee misconduct.

I have over 9 years experience as a charge nurse / team leader in nursing homes. I have been a Licensed Practical Nurse since 1991 and am a Legal Nurse Consultant (basically a paralegal with some medical / nursing expertise.

CQ3) What is your campaign message /theme and what issues are you running on?

Education is a right, not a privilege! All of the district-run schools can be good schools

Issues: The district must lower district wide teacher turnover rates, modify the teacher assignment system to more equally distribute low seniority teachers between programs, and phase out “low-ability” curriculum tracks, make a college-bound curriculum accessible to the general student population.

CQ4) Who are you running against and what is / are her weaknesses? Strengths?

I will be running against a slate put together by a part of the DFL leadership (e.g., RT Rybak and Dennis Schapiro) I hope to find 3 other candidates I can support. I know very little about the other candidates who are running. Fred Easter seems to have more common ground with me than the other candidates.

CQ5) What is your plan for winning your race? How many votes do you need to win? Do you have a written campaign plan?

I do not have a written campaign plan, but plan to write one soon. I am transferring voter lists to a data base, and plan to start making calls to super voters this month. I plan to do some door knocking, fund-raising, lit dropping. I think I can get through the primary with an expenditure of less than $1,000, but will try to raise and spend more than that. With help from a few dozen volunteers, and assuming I strike a cord with a majority of voters, I believe I could win without spending the kind of money that some of the declared DFL candidates plan to spend (from around $10,000 to $25.000). I think I could raise and spend less than $5,000 and win with a grass roots organizing model.

CQ6) Can you provide an itemized campaign budget? How much money have you raised to date?

I do not have a campaign budget. I have done no fund raising. I have spent about $80 out of pocket. I plan to engage in fundraising activity within the next few weeks.

Mann for school board