Candidates Explore School Board Issues in Edina

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Six of the seven Edina school board candidates answered questions at the Edina League of Women Voters forum on Thursday, September 12. Sarah Patzloff, Linda Friede, Lou Nanne Jr,. Leny Wallen-Friedman, Julie Greene and Janie ShawI highlighted some of their differences in answering questions screened by the LWV. Garrett Knudsen was unable to attend the forum.

The full video recording of the forum may be found at this link

Sarah Patzloff described her focus on academic excellence and data-driven decision-making that puts kids first. She stressed the need to put resources in the right places.

Linda Friede felt that the school board should promote student academic growth.

Lou Nanne also wants to promote student excellence, urging the creation of multiple paths for students to learn. He recognized the Edina has wonderful teachers, but it needs to develop the best curriculum.

Leny Wallen-Friedman wants to complete work on the strategic plan. He feels that the board should decide on its role and better follow guidelines. He also argued that the MCA test scores were not a sufficient indicator of educational excellence.

Julie Greene said that the number one goal of the school board is to rebuild trust with the teachers. She also thinks that “we need to consider other data points” beyond the declining MCA test scores. “Equitable opportunities” are required to close the performance gap.

Janie Shaw emphasized the need to set priorities and then stand firm. “We should not judge how we are doing based on what one magazine says”, likely a reference to the Center of the American Experiment magazine.

When asked what role the school board should take in implementing new curriculum, Shaw replied that that the board should rely on the teachers. “They are the experts. The school board does not have the knowledge.” Greene said that the school board’s role is governance – overseeing administrators, not in overseeing the curriculum.  Patzloff replied that it is the job of the board to approve the curriculum, based on inputs from the administration and the teachers.  "But then we need to ensure its outcomes.  We need to see the results of that curriculum."

In response to the question on data transparency, Greene doesn’t think that it is true that the district is hiding data. Shaw replied that she was okay with setting boundaries on sharing data. Wallen-Friedman stated that the release of data should be determined based on how it is going to be used.  Friede pointed out that the Hopkins School District website contains a 49-page report of school data. "Right now, when you go to our website, there's nothing."  Patzloff said that school issue data should not be a secret.  "We live in a really smart community.  We have some really smart people who can look at data, and we don't need to assume that they won't understand it."  

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