Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How many candidates can I vote for in the School Board election?

You can vote for two at-large (city-wide) candidates for School Board. Four candidates will appear on the ballot, and two will be elected to serve. positions are being elected. Don is running for one of the two at-large seats.

Additionally, School Board candidates will be elected from Districts 1, 3, and 5, all on the east side of the city. If you live in one of these districts, you will also be able to vote for one candidate to fill your district seat. If you live on the west side of the city, you can only vote in the at-large election.

What does Don mean when he talks about "Excellence?"

Don believes ALL kids need an excellent, high quality education and that ALL kids should be challenged to reach their potential. We also need excellence on the part of adults. This includes the School Board, the District administration, principals and teachers, and our students’ parents. We owe this to the kids.

What does Don mean when he talks about "Equity?"

Minnesotans care about kids, and we are national leaders in many things. BUT we tolerate one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation. We’re better than that! Let’s be who we are, and show other cities how it’s done.

All children deserve a great public education, regardless of their race, ethnicity, family income, or zip code. This is a moral issue, and it is a question of the economic vitality of our region.

Minneapolis Public Schools must adopt best practices from district and public charter schools in Minnesota and around the nation that are showing outstanding results for young people.

What does Don mean when he talks about "Urgency?" What's the rush?

The current School Board lacks a sense of urgency about the achievement and opportunity gaps in our community. Academic success for all children must be the number-one priority of our school board – and currently it is not.

Our institutions aren’t sacred, but the young people they serve are. Don believes that we have a mutual responsibility to take on this problem – now! He sees this election as a grassroots call to action: “Let’s do it together!”

Is Don prepared to take on the complex District budget?

Don has many years of experience with large and complicated budgets, first in the private sector and later as a member of the Minneapolis City Council. His background has prepared him well to manage the budget of the school district and ensure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. He believes in transparency and honesty about public budgets, and will bring that commitment to the School Board.

What is the role of testing and data in education?

Don believes that data has a crucial role in helping us successfully educate children. He supports useful, meaningful, timely data that helps teachers do their jobs; after all, teachers want information that will help them do their best to help students learn.

He believes certain standardized tests are useful in painting a broad picture of how groups of students are doing and helping to target resources.

How does school funding contribute to increasing equity across the district?

The District is currently considering a new budgeting process for schools that they believe is both more fair and equitable. Known as Weighted Student Funding, this formula essentially means the money follows the kids. While there is no final proposal on the table, Don generally supports targeting resources to those children who need it the most, while preserving excellence across the district.

What role do teachers play in addressing the district's biggest challenges?

Don believes that teachers are the solution to the issues in our schools. We need to invest in our teachers and support them in what they need. They are the single most important in-school factor in student achievement.

At the same time, our highest obligation is to the children, and high quality teaching is key to that success. We need to respect and reward teachers, but we also need to hold them and others accountable.

How does Don feel about unions?

Don supports unions and collective bargaining. He was labor-endorsed when he was elected to the Minneapolis City Council. He is a former member of the Service Employees Industrial Union (SEIU).

Don also recognizes that many of the children confronting the achievement gap are the children of union members.

Is Don endorsed by the DFL?

Don is a long-time DFLer, elected to the City Council twice with DFL endorsement, but is running in the non-partisan School Board election without DFL endorsement. He entered the race two months after the April DFL endorsing convention having come to the conclusion that the situation for Minneapolis students is too urgent to not run.

What is the role of charter schools?

Don supports high-performing charter schools in Minneapolis (two of which are chartered by Minneapolis Public Schools). He also believes charters that are failing children should be shut down. He believes Minneapolis Public Schools should incorporate the best practices of the high-performing charters  which was the original intent of charters.

What is Don's position on vouchers?

Don does not support vouchers. A decade ago he explored the viability of vouchers, but concluded that pursuing them would not result in improved educational opportunities for the students who need them most.

Why did Don decide to run for School Board?

Don is running for MPS school board because he believes in the institution of public schools, and he seeks to improve them for all Minneapolis students. His 15-year-old daughter is a student at Anthony Middle School. He believes our future is in the public schools’ hands; that’s where we made a promise to our community.