Why I’m Running

The 2020-2021 school year was a wake-up call. We watched our children flounder while schools shut down and Distance Learning ruled the day. Students struggled to do their work, many of them fell behind, they were isolated, depressed, anxious and as parents many of us felt like our children’s futures were on the line. 

Recently, the Minnesota Department of Education reported somber news about the performance of Edina Public Schools during Covid: reading scores declined 2.3%, math declined 8.1% and science declined 8.9% from 2019 to 2021!* (see Consequences of Distance Learning: Edina Public Schools table)

As a current member of the Edina School Board, I am saddened by what I see around me: divisiveness, anger, and a loss of the excellence in education that we all believe in. I am also grateful that over the last four years, I have seen more and more people becoming aware of just what is at stake for our children. I believe that every child in Edina deserves an excellent education. 

After last year, I have found myself asking the question: Is what we have been doing working for students in Edina? 

Is it working?

Sadly, it took a year of unprecedented learning loss to open many people’s eyes. But, for the last four years, I have been working, often against the tide of public opinion, FOR kids, for education and for the future.

What results have I witnessed in my last four years of service on Edina School Board?

  • The exodus of a whopping 22% of our resident students from the district.
  • Edina High School’s US News and World Report ranking falling to 9th place after years of consistently being 1st or 2nd in the state of Minnesota.
  • A budget shortfall every year. 

Again, I want to ask the most important question: Is what we have been doing working? 

I think the honest answer is “No.” I implore you to strip away any emotion and simply review the statistics. The decline in math, reading and science test scores is undeniable. Some may try to mask the decline by pointing to Edina students’ ACT scores. But Edina’s decline in rank versus other high schools and junior high schools cannot be covered up or explained without acknowledging that something is wrong.

I want to continue to serve students in Edina by seeking out the best way to help them become valuable community members, create bonds between classmates, teachers, and administration. We can do that TOGETHER. But—we cannot do that if we keep doing the same things that are not working.

Now, more than ever, students are divided. Teachers are divided. The administration is divided, too. How is this good for our community? By promoting ideology over education, we have dropped the ball.

I campaigned four years ago on this same platform, and I was misrepresented as someone who wouldn’t be good for this district. I won my seat because of the effort of a group of concerned community members who saw, too, that our schools were sliding downhill. It took last year to pull the curtain back on what I saw when I first ran for School Board. 

I am happy to report that I was often in the minority in School Board voting, but I stuck to my values. Schools can be some of the best tools to bring people together. They can create growth, vitality, and community among kids with differing backgrounds and differing political views. It was on those principles that I voted time and again to bring kids back into the classroom, to knock ideology that divides students out of the textbooks and lectures and to do what’s best for students. 

I would be honored to speak with anyone about what I learned over the last four years**. I am excited by the opportunity we now have in front of us to re-evaluate our methods and get students back to the center of an excellent education. 

We need to pursue educational excellence for all. This includes an unflinching commitment to literacy, especially among our early readers. Given our large number of advanced learners, we need to rededicate ourselves to ability-grouped classes. We need to recommit ourselves to education-specific professional development. Preserving, all the while, the excellence of many existing programs in Edina Public Schools, such as our Advanced Placement Classes, Continuous Progress Programs, French Immersion at Normandale, etc. 

We must keep asking ourselves: Is what we are doing working? That is the difficult way, it is not the easy way. I will promise to continue serve students by advocating for excellence in our schools. We owe that to our kids after last year. –

* No testing 2020 during lockdown.**I’ll be doing Meet-and-Greets in October in the late afternoon—likely at Jerry’s Starbucks. Details to come.