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Doug Mann LPN, LNC

LWV 2006 Minneapolis Voters' Guide

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Questions to School Board Candidates
with Answers by Doug Mann

The League of Women Voters is partnering with the SW Journal and Downtown Journal to publish a voters guide in October. Below are questions for school board candidates, with answers by Doug Mann

1. How will you involve citizens in decision making and maintain communication with the community?

Advisory committees should be open to all who are interested in serving on them. I was opposed to the decision to disband an active Special Education Advisory Committee open to all, which was replaced by an inactive committee selected by the administration. The old SEAC filed complaints with the federal government against the district for failure to provide mandated services for which the district was reimbursed, forcing the district to pay back about $10 million dollars. We need more advisory committees like the old SEAC, that act as advocates for students, not as rubber stamps for the administration.

2. What are your expectations for a new superintendent of the district?

I expect full compliance with Minnesota's Desegregation Rule, including full public disclosure of information necessary to evaluate differences in educational inputs, including the stability of teaching staff, between schools that are "racially identifiable," other schools where students of color are over-represented, and schools where students of color are underrepresented. The district must also provide data needed to evaluate the impact of ability grouping practices, including test score data broken down by curriculum track assignment, including assignment to high, medium, and low ability instructional groups for reading and math.

3. What will you do to narrow achievement differences between advantaged and disadvantaged students?
I believe the most effective and efficient way to narrow achievement differences between high and low performing students without holding back high performers is to stabilize the teacher staffing at all schools and to phase out non-college-bound curriculum tracks. The board must no longer approve of the practice of sending layoff notices to teachers
who do not need to be laid off. About two-thirds of teachers who received layoff notices in 2005 accepted offers for continued employment. I also advocate equalizing the proportion of low-seniority teachers in established programs / schools (to be phased in).

4. What role do you see school board members playing in the district's long-range strategic planning process that's currently underway?

We need a balance sheet on the long-range strategic plan approved by the board in 1995, entitled "Eliminating the gap: Ensuring that all students can learn." The idea was that setting up "community schools" and taking other steps to increase parent involvement would "close the racial learning gap." I think that most parents have always been about as involved as they can be, or want to be. The strategy of urging parents to be more involved with their children's education, as a means to close the "racial learning gap," is a proven failure.

Doug Mann for School Board in 2008