Betsy Hodges said on Thursday that as mayor she’d approach schools by convening adults to have conversations that focus on children.

But she doesn’t want to appoint members of the Minneapolis school board, a power that some Republican legislators last year proposed be given to the mayor.  The mayor currently has no formal powers involving the Minneapolis district, although Rybak pushed high school students to focus on a path toward college by promising them that hard work would gain them city-arranged internships and the ability to attend certain public univerosities.

Hodges said in a campaign news conference that too much of the debate over improving Minneapolis schools is focused on adult issues, such as teacher staffing levels, charter schools and education standards.

She said she wants the conversation to focus on how to eliminate gaps among students in performance.  She said students need more teacher role models of their own race, a leveling inside schools of the educational opportunities that high-income students get outside school, and innovations developed in charter schools that accomplish more for low-income and minority students with fewer resources.  She again touted her “cradle to K” proposal for expanding access to programs giving a boost to low-income students before kindergarten.

Asked if she thinks the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers is a potential help or hindrance for the child-centered conversations she’s seeking, Hodges responded: “Even the fact that somebody has to ask that question points to how polarized the debate has become.”