Let me start by saying that I’m incredibly supportive of our teachers. Many Edina teachers have changed my kids’ lives in more positive ways than I can express. I believe our teachers have our students’ best interests at heart. I don’t believe the same can be said for the Teacher’s Union, which encouraged teacher absences forcing an emergency board meeting that led to distance learning. Hundreds of Edina parents have reached out to voice their frustration about that situation.
As a result, I question the practice of School Board candidates accepting the Union Endorsement and am also concerned that off-year elections for School Board create an uneven playing field for the best interest of our students.
*What did we learn from 2020 and online learning? Distance Learning (DL) was a disaster for many students as shown by lack of learning, falling test scores and high incidence of student depression, anxiety, loneliness, and declining health. This performance decline is known anecdotally in households across the district, and it’s also borne out in data maintained by the Minnesota Department of Education (see table).
Consequences of Distance Learning: Edina Public Schools
(2019 to 2021)
|Reading||2.3%||Minnesota Report Card (Edina: Reading; 2019 – 2021)|
|Math||8.1%||Minnesota Report Card (Edina: Math; 2019 – 2021)|
|Science||8.9%||Minnesota Report Card (Edina: Science; 2019 – 2021)|
Note: No data was collected in 2020 during the statewide lockdown.
*How did the Union’s actions affect our students in 2020? On November 8th the EPS Union blatantly worked to shut down our schools by encouraging teacher absences. The next day the resulting staff shortage forced an emergency Board meeting at which the Board voted to move into DL immediately.
*How did the Union influence the EPS School Board? Six of seven Board members are endorsed by the Union and only two of us voted to keep kids in school.
*Who does the Union represent? Teachers are represented by the Union. Teachers provide a significant service to our children, one I value highly because of its positive effect on my kids. Yet, teachers have their representation (in the Union).
*What collective body represents the students and parents? The School Board is tasked with representing students and parents.
*What’s wrong with School Board members being endorsed by the Union? If a School Board member is endorsed by the Union how can they represent the students and parents objectively? I question the practice of Union endorsement of School Board members because it creates divided loyalty; this practice must stop.
How has the Union influenced the School Board?
* Union members canvassed the entire district the weekend before the 2019 School Board election and utilized 120 teachers to pull for the three Union-endorsed candidates.
*Do off-cycle elections play a role in the outcome of School Board elections? Off-cycle elections generate only a 40% voter turnout even in a “good” year. Typically, though, there is a 20% turnout in off years compared to an 80% turnout in general elections in Edina. Off-cycle elections tend to favor Union-sympathetic voters. And if that’s not enough, off-cycle elections cost the Edina School District upwards to $100,000, the price of teacher’s salary and benefits—Is that in the best interest of our students?
Let’s go back to the level playing field of conducting School Board elections during general elections.
So, I call for two actions: One, that School Board candidates forswear the Union endorsement, and two, that we demand that School Board elections return to the general election cycle.