I will continue to add to this page as issues arise throughout the campaign.
PUBLIC money is for PUBLIC education.
I am a hard NO on vouchers (or whatever new fancy name is given to them to hide their true purpose). I have advocated against them since my time as the President of the Minnesota PTA, including testifying at the state legislature. As we’ve seen in other states, vouchers only benefit students and families that already can afford – and often are already enrolled in – private education and do nothing to improve educational outcomes or close achievement gaps.
Here is a clip from a virtual press conference I attended in May of 2021 opposing specific legislation that was proposed at the time (Minnesota PTA’s statement begins at 2:25): https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=2667001840256525
Public schools have the responsibility to provide students with opportunities to expand their world view, and access to a variety of books is a great way to foster this development.
I do not – and Minnesota state law does not – agree with book removal challenges that arise from “viewpoint discrimination,” meaning the request comes from a place of wanting to limit students’ exposure to particular topics or viewpoints. Decisions on access to books should be made at the family level, not the system level.
As is stated in Bloomington Public Schools’ policy 606, we adhere to the above positions to “….foster respect and appreciation for diversity and varied opinion…provide for the developmental, personal, and recreational needs of the students…accommodate various intellectual and maturity levels, cultures, learning styles, and points of view…provide information representing various views of issues to extend thinking and develop critical analysis…help patrons understand their responsibilities, rights, and privileges as participating citizens in society…provide an extensive and representative collection.”
When book removal challenges use the words “obscene” or “child pornography,” I refer to these definitions in state statute:
“Obscene” means that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex and depicts or describes in a patently offensive manner sexual conduct and which, taken as a whole, does not have serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. (Minnesota Statute 617.241)
“Child Pornography” refers to visuals only, and does not encompass the written word. (Minnesota Statute 617.246)
For more information, see the following Library Bill of Rights from the American Library Association, and the National PTA Position on Libraries and Educational Material.
At the League of Women Voters forum, the candidates were asked the following question: “Do you support transgender youth using bathrooms and playing on athletic teams that are opposite their biological sex?” (paraphrased – I’ll update the exact wording when the video comes out)
Even though I suspected a question like this was coming, I still had a very visceral reaction to hearing it spoken out loud. I had to answer first, and in one minute, which didn’t give my blood pressure enough time to come down before I could answer succinctly. You can watch my answer when the forum is posted and see the emotion that I still had. Here is my “one week later & calm” response:
It is because of questions like this, that LGBTQIA+ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide. That number is even higher for BIPOC & Transgender youth.
It is because of questions like this, that having LGBTQIA+ affirming spaces, like public schools, are imperative for our youth.
It is because of questions like this, that having supportive adults & peers in an LGBTQIA+ person’s life is critical. Having just one accepting adult in their life can reduce instances of self-harm by 40%.
According to The Trevor Project, only 55% of LGBTQIA+ youth have affirming spaces at school, and even worse, only 37% have affirming spaces at home.
Transgender youth are already stigmatized and marginalized in our political climate enough. Questioning their presence in a bathroom or on an athletic team devalues their humanity and treats them as “less than.”
It is our job, as members of the Bloomington Public School Board, to support policy and practice that affirm our students’ authentic selves and to be sure they are never treated as “less than.” If re-elected to the school board, I promise you that I will stand up for LGBTQIA+ youth in our decision making and be sure they feel valued, supported, welcome, and wanted in our schools.
When we entered the 2023 legislative session, public school funding was 18.4% behind inflation as calculated since 2003. That’s 20 years of chronically underfunding public education in Minnesota, which – even with historic funding increases – cannot be undone in one legislative session.
As school board members, we need to continue to advocate at both the state and federal level for true full funding that does not leave our budgets strained and our students and families underserved.
We need to support initiatives that close cross-subsidies (money taken from general funds to support specific services), increase mental health supports, and address achievement gaps like increased early learning services and achievement & integration funding.