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Posts about Education

School reform group lags on registration

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: October 31, 2014 - 1:12 PM

The reformer-backed political fund that brought major new money into the Minneapolis school board elections didn't follow Hennepin County campaign law when it began handling money.

That's resulted in a complaint that the county's election office has forwarded to the county attorney's office for review. The election office hasn't yet disclosed who filed it.

Daniel Sellers, listed as chair of the Minneapolis Progressive Education Fund, admits that his group erred in not filing its campaign registration within the 14-day window required after raising or spending $100.

Sellers said Friday that the failure to file on time was an honest mistake, and that as soon as he discovered the omission he was at the county election office with the required filing the following Monday.

But the failure to file meant that campaign material was already appearing in mailboxes across Minneapolis from a group listed on the mailer but not on file with the county. It's not as if the fund's officers had no experience with campaigns and filing requirements; treasurer Seth Kirk chaired the campaign committee for the 2012 re-election campaign of board member Carla Bates.

According to the fund, it got an in-kind donation of staff work from the 50CAN Action Fund worth $438.04 on Aug. 31, meaning that a registration with the county was due by mid-September. The first cash contribution was from former Piper Jaffray CEO Addison Piper of Medina, who donated $1,000 on Sept. 2,

Sellers is also chair of the 50CAN fund, which also spent more than $6,000 in support of electing Josh Reimnitz to the board in 2012.  Piper contributed to 50CAN that year as well. Sellers also heads MinnCAN, the Minnesota affiliate of 50CAN, an education reform advocacy nonprofit.

There's also a difference between the finance forms submitted by Minneapolis Progressive Education Fund and Students For Education Reform Action Network Fund. The latter fund shows a contribution of $10,638 on Aug. 11 from the Progressive Education Fund, which would trigger an even earlier registration date . But the Progressive Education group lists the contribution as occurring on Sept. 29.

Sellers said the August date was the date of an invoice but that it wasn't paid until the latter date. Ginny Gelms, who runs the county election office, said it's up to attorneys to determine which action triggers a registration deadline.

Despite a name suggesting a student group, the SFER fund lists former Minneapolis school board member Chris Stewart as chair. It has been criticized by some union teachers as an "astroturf" entity, a perjorative term implying a false pose as a grassroots group. 

The Progressive Education group reported $228,300 in contributions, which has sparked controversy, since almost all of the cash cash originated outside Minneapolis. It has supported Don Samuels and Iris Altamirano as at-large candidates in Tuesday's board election.

(Photo above: Daniel Sellers.  

Potential school candidates remain coy

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: May 13, 2014 - 10:54 AM

The filing period to run for school board opens in a week but two potential candidates for city-wide seats are playing it coy on their plans.

Ira Jourdain, who topped out at third place with 42 percent support from DFL delegates at their recent endorsing convention, said Monday that he's "still weighing my options."  But he ruled out a run in District 3, where he lives and where delegates endorsed Siad Ali.

Meanwhile, Andrew Minck, the last place finisher in convention balloting, was too busy to discuss his plans when the Star Tribune called on Monday.  He said he'd call back later but didn't.

The campaign web sites for Minck and Jourdain and still live, however.

Both could find taking on the endorsees, incumbent Rebecca Gagnon and newcomer Iris Altamirano, given the high success rate over the past 20 years for endorsees. Typically, the only time people without a DFL endorsement have been elected to the school board is when the party doesn't endorse a full slate of candidates.  That happened in 2010 when Gagnon was elected along with sole city-wide endorsee Richard Mammen.

Another board member elected without endorsement was Jopsh Reimnitz.  That happened when the party endorsed a candidate who ended up not running, and Reimnitz won by a whisker.

Both Minck and Reimnitz come out of a Teach For America background, doing stints for the organization that puts college graduates into classrooms after a summer of training. Minck now works for the organization's office.

That raises the possibility that he could tap a potential campaign war chest that would rival the record amount raised by Reimnitz in 2012.  The nearly $40,000 he raised was all the more remarkable because he raised it for a district race covering about one-sixth of the city's population, while the previous fundraising record was for Mammen's city-wide race.

Much of that spending was raised by a network of people associated with so-called school reform groups, including Teach For Americaq alumni or employees. Many contributors also lived outside Minneapolis. Meanwhile, a Minneapolis teacher union political action committee also spent thousands of dollars on behalf of opponent Patricia Wycoff.

(Above: Ira Jourdain; below: Andrew Minck    

Meetings on school shift proposal set

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: September 25, 2013 - 12:38 PM

Four public meetings divided by sector of the city have been scheduled by the Minneapolis school district on a proposal by district planners to shuffle programs and schools for about one-quarter of district students to handle rising enrollment.

The meetings are scheduled for these areas and the prooposal potentially affects certain schools in each sector:

North portion of Area A: Tuesday, 6-8 p.m., Anwatin Middle School, 256 Upton Av. S. Cityview, Franklin, Lincoln, Olson, North and Sheridan schools, plus Davis Center.

Northeast portion of Area A: Oct. 14, 6-8 p.m., Northeast Middle School, 955 Hayes Av. NE, Same schools.

Area B (eastern portion of South Side plus part of southeast Minneapolis): Oct. 10, 6-8 p.m., Northrop school, 4315 31st Av. S. Cooper, Hiawatha, Howe, Sanford, Seward, and Wilder schools.

Area C (western half of South Side plus downtown): Oct. 9, 6-8 p.m., Ramsey Middle School, 1 W. 49th St.  Barton, Burroughs, Hale, Kenny, Lake Harriet, Ramsey, Southwest, Washburn and Wilder schools.

Also up for discussion at the meetings are potential city-wide impact changes affecting Longfellow, North, Roosevelt, Sulivan, Tuttle, Webster, Wilder and 2225 E. Lake St.

More information about the proposal discussed Tuesday evening is available through the district.




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