On Nov. 6, Minneapolis voters will decide who will serve on the newly created nine-member school board.
When the winners take their seats in January, it will mark the completion of a phased-in reconfiguration of the board, the elected governing body that oversees the 32,000-student, $650 million school system.
Minneapolis citizens voted to change what was a seven-member body to a nine-member board -- three elected at large and six from districts. Today's endorsements address two of the four races.
At-large: Carla Bates
If reelected, incumbent Carla Bates, 50, will be the board's longest-serving member and one of three elected citywide. Having that history on the district's governing body would be an important asset for a board with so many short- term and new members.
An independent thinker, Bates was one of two board members to vote against the most recent teachers contract, arguing that it did not go far enough to help the administration make appropriate teacher assignments. She does her homework and has been a strong voice for reform, including better alignment of resources and rigorous staff evaluations.
Bates is an information technology professional at the University of Minnesota, holds a doctoral degree in American Studies and has three children who have attended Minneapolis schools. She is endorsed by the DFL, the Service Employees International Union and a long list of elected officials. Her Green Party-endorsed opponent, Doug Mann, has run unsuccessfully before and did not respond to our request for an interview.
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Fourth District: Josh Reimnitz
In this spirited race to represent the downtown, Bryn Mawr and East Isles neighborhoods, we give the edge to Josh Reimnitz, an enthusiastic 26-year-old former teacher who now helps lead a national student leadership organization. Though he's young and has limited experience, Reimnitz would add a fresh voice and needed perspective to the board.
The North Dakota native was student-body president at North Dakota State University and interned in Washington, D.C., with Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. While in Washington, Reimnitz joined the Teach for America program, and he taught in inner-city Atlanta for two years. In 2010, he moved to Minneapolis to work for Students Today Leaders Forever. He lives in Elliot Park.
Though he has only been in Minneapolis a short time, Reimnitz knows the education issues here well. He believes in a rigorous curriculum, strong leadership and adjusting teacher seniority rules in the best interests of students. His teaching experience with disadvantaged students helped him develop good ideas for addressing the achievement gap. He is endorsed by three former school board chairs, by the Stonewall DFL group and by Mayor R.T. Rybak.
His opponent, Patty Wycoff, 43, is a longtime resident, volunteer and community organizer in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood and a former substitute teacher in Minneapolis and Richfield. A graduate of Winona State, she works part time for her neighborhood association and has two children in public schools.
Wycoff is also an energetic advocate for improving education. But we're concerned that she might serve her district at the expense of considering the big picture for students across the city. In addition, concerned parent activists are already well-represented on the board; the group needs a greater diversity of thought and backgrounds to help push for needed change.
Wycoff is endorsed by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, some current school board members and current and former elected officials, including former House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison.
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There are no contests in the other races. Incumbent Kim Ellison in the Second District on the North Side and newcomer Tracine Asberry in the Sixth District, from Southwest, are running unopposed.