Reelection Thank You

May 26, 2000 My Response
I would like to take a few minutes of your time to give you an update on a number of items.

It would now appear that the state legislature is going to provide some assistance to local school districts. 1. In fact the amount of money is unusually large for a non-budget year. Duluth is to receive in excess of $2 million. If this amount is actually forthcoming, it will make a real difference in the ISD 709 budget. 2. A combination of the new revenue and existing excess should make any cuts unnecessary.

I spent May 7 through 9 in Washington, DC at the AFT headquarters attending a meeting to develop a national position on Edison. About thirty local presidents and state staff discussed the effect of Edison on their school districts, test scores for the Edison schools, teacher contracts at Edison, national growth, how they make their money (by selling stock), how the national can assist locals and a variety of other topics related to the formation of policy to assist the AFT in dealing with Edison. Sandra Feldman, President of the AFT and Secretary-Treasurer Ed McElroy both attended the meetings and played an active role in the discussion, thus giving those of us from the locals a chance to tell our story to those who can truly make a difference.

On the topic of making a difference, it is gratifying to report that the Education Minnesota position on the Grad Rule/Profile of Learning has made a difference at the legislature which, in a last minute agreement, modified the Profile requirements to make the entire process much more workable. It is true that the agreement reached did not go so far as some of us would have liked, but given the realities of politics, this is a real improvement over the Grad Rule status quo.

During the course of the last two years many members have questioned whether we are better off as a result of the merger of the teacher unions. It is worth remembering that one of the goals of the merger was to be able to present a unified front in working with the legislature. I believe that the unusually high off-year increase in educational funding and the success in modifying the Grad Rule is proof that our increased ability to lobby is paying dividends. For teachers who would have been laid off without the additional funding these dividends are real indeed. I would like to thank our professional lobbyists and the many members who wrote, called, and e-mailed the people in St. Paul. A special thanks to Charlene Johnson, Sue Anderson, Al Chepelnik, and Dennis Bowles who acted as our local lobbyists on the designated lobby days.

I would like to end by thanking all of you who saw fit to vote for me in the recent D.F.T. election of officers. I truly appreciate the faith and confidence which your vote indicates. Although in many ways this was a difficult election for me personally, it was healthy to have contested elections. I believe that the election process enabled the group to consider a number of issues and gain some clarity. This has not been an easy year. We have had a number of difficult things to deal with, such as negotiations and insurance. It is important to deal with potentially divisive matters in a manner which brings the group together and gives direction. We need to openly debate the issues, come to a decision, and support the actions of the entire group. This is not always easy. During the course of the next two years I will try to do my best to be worthy of the honor of being your D.F.T. President.

Frank Wanner
1. This is very true. Because sixty percent of Minneosta's school districts negotitated contracts which put them behind the financial eight ball in a year when the state's economy had left lots of money sitting in the bank the legislature decided to bail out the districts. In Duluth's case we had a 4.7million dollar debt looming. The initial reports were that we were going to get 2.3 million from the state, or roughly half our debt. In fact we got closer to 1.7 million leaving us with a 3 million problem. 

2. This is such a thoughtless, irresponsible and careless statement Frank ought to be ashamed. We got in debt last time because a previous school board spent money it didn't have. The austerity program we had to impose on ourselves infuriated teachers, yet this is what Frank is encouraging us to do. Of course, Frank is probably planning to retire before we go into debt again so its easy for him to encourage us to act like a high school kid with her first credit card.

3. Now that I've criticized Frank I'll back off. We recently met and made peace agreeing to disagree. We've both been recently reelected to our respective positions presumably because our respective constituencies want us where we are. 

I've counted about ten newsletters since Frank last criticized the school board gratuitously.