With filing now closed, St. Paul school board candidates include one who eschews social media and another inspired by “The Untouchables.” The five most serious candidates are DFL-endorsed Zuki Ellis, Jon Schumacher, Steve Marchese, and Mary Vanderwert, all of whom identify with the teachers-union-backed Caucus for Change, and school board incumbent Keith Hardy, who is running without endorsement. The four who are elected in November will deal continuing problems, including student achievement, discipline and budgets, as well as middle school students leaving the district.
Zuki Ellis has deep connections to St. Paul Public Schools, as an alum of Webster Elementary and Highland Park Senior High School, and the mother of three SPPS students. Her web page lists detailed and thoughtful positions on key issues from the botched mainstreaming initiative rolled out a couple of years ago to iPads in classrooms and corporate talk in the district office. On mainstreaming:
“For both Special Education and ELL students, the word ‘mainstreaming’ has been used to disguise blatant neglect for individual student progress, and I cannot support the way it has been carried out.
“By cutting entire programs for the sake of ‘mainstreaming’ students, without any regard for the needs of individual students, the district has shown a total disregard for those students’ potential to succeed. (They’re called Individual Education Plans for a reason.) “By providing additional support staff in the classroom, we can make steps toward making sure students are still getting the individual attention they need and deserve, and that our teachers are able to fully address the needs of all students.”