By Jeff Northrup
Editor Note: Voters in Edina School District 273 are being asked to vote on two questions in a special referendum culminating on Tuesday, May 11. One question deals with a new $7M bond bill intended to fund repair of the bus garage and improvements to various school parking spaces. The second question seeks approval of a ten-year, $70 million Capital Project Levy Authorization for Technology in the Edina Schools.
The following is an open letter urging voters in Edina School District 273 to use the opportunity of this referendum to send a message. Jeff is non-partisan, not affiliated with SD49 Republicans or any political entity.
It would be difficult to find a bigger “homer” for Edina than me: I was born at Fairview Southdale, attended K-12 here, own every piece of Edina apparel available, named my company after my grade school (Concord), sat on the Facilities Task Force (the most recent big district referendum for $124.9M), played a big role in the Braemar Dome, and have put 4 daughters through EPS. I am fully invested.
And I am a hard NO on the Levy and Bond. We need a change. Edina Public Schools are not trending well and the School Board and Administration need to get the message: If you put a good product out there, one that is Excellent through and through, we will embrace your Levies and Bonds.
But if the product is bad, we will vote down your requests for more money. Especially when our concerns have little to do with money.
Here are my big three concerns:
- Declining Enrollment. When kids who live here don’t go to school here, that is a major red flag. Something isn’t working. We are currently at our highest level of non-resident enrollment ever, and it has been trending in the wrong direction for years. They used to say that 15% was the goal, with no more than 20%. We will likely be over 25% by next year! Declining enrollment impacts budget, staffing, programming, test scores and athletics. I have watched as some of my kids’ best friends disappear from the district in large numbers. One thing I can assure you: many of your kids’ classmates in 1st grade will be learning elsewhere by the time they are in High School. This is a problem.
Picture credit: Twin Cities Pioneer Press
Bad mistake: Shoot a young black man instead of tasing him at a traffic stop.
Bad reaction: Protesters pelted police officers with concrete blocks and frozen cans of pop.
Reporter interpretation: “There was no riot.”
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Gannon’s rational response: “I was front and center … at the riot.”
“Protests” grow: 20 businesses broken into, some destroyed (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
A prudent Governor’s possible responses: Deploy enough police and National Guard to arrest anyone who riots and loots. Ban gatherings of more than 20 people.
Governor Walz’ actual response: Declare a four-county curfew. Lockdown 2.6 million people.
Take away: Rather than condemn the riots and the looting, Governor Walz chooses to make the whole metropolitan area suffer.
As a timely follow-up to our March 29 analysis of the FiveThirtyEight article touching on leftist racial equity initiatives, The Heritage Foundation recently published a report entitled "Critical Race Theory Would Not Solve Racial Inequality: It Would Deepen It", in which Christopher Rufo touches on the tenets of critical race theory and offers an alternative theory of racial inequality.
Rufo notes that numerous scholars have demonstrated that "the real drivers of American poverty - for all racial groups - are the so-called background variables of family structure, educational attainment, and workforce participation." Namely, the solution to poverty for all racial groups is to provide a pathway for stable two-parent households, achievement-based academic success, and full-time work for householders. These factors have a significant impact on poverty in America across ALL races. Ironically, discussions of "privilege" conveniently omit the fact that "white alone, not Hispanic" is the single largest poverty group in the United States.
Unfortunately, critical race theorists and the left would prefer to tear down these pillars as they identify them as key support structures enabling and maintaining what they see as the systemic racism inherent in the United States.
A range of scholars have pointed to family structure as the single-greatest predictor of poverty; i.e., living in a two-parent household significantly reduces the chance that a child will live in poverty. Unfortunately, critical race theorists have targeted the traditional family structure as part of the patriarchal, oppressive system that needs to be dismantled. Indeed, Black Lives Matter at one time listed on the organization's website its aims to "disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement". They removed the statement after receiving justified attention (the author of this SD49 article recalls viewing the statement live on the BLM website in the summer of 2020 before it was taken down).
When analyzing socioeconomic disparities between racial groups, one cannot ignore the impact of single motherhood, a figure that has increased to significant levels in the African-American community over the past several decades, as "children of unmarried mothers of any race are more likely to perform poorly in school, go to prison, use drugs, be poor as adults, and have their own children out of wedlock" according to NBC.Read more
The following is an abridged version of the keynote speech presented at the CD3 Convention:
Let’s look back on the 2020 election and ponder the results a bit and then discuss what we should do next.
Pundits predicted a blue tsunami of historic proportions. It was almost as if they were purposely lying to us.
Donald Trump received 11 million more votes in 2020 than in 2016.
Trump won 18 of the 19 counties both Democrats and Republicans regard as the “bellwether” counties that virtually always go with the outcome of presidential elections. He won four bellwether states - - Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina.
Republicans held all of the House Seats they were defending and gained another 13 seats.
Yet Trump lost.
In the lead up to the Election, Democrats made unprecedented efforts to change election laws. Mostly Democrat states sent out tens of millions of ballots or applications for absentee ballots to people who never requested them. Voting began in some states six weeks before election day.
Yet the election was still remarkably close.
In 2016, the states that put Trump over the top in the electoral college were Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump won those states by 77,744 votes … out of the roughly 138 million votes cast.
In 2020, the states that put Biden over the top in the electoral college were Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin. Biden won those states by only 42,844 votes …out of over 159 million votes. Just 42,844 votes.Read more
A recent FiveThirtyEight article laying out "The Ideas That Are Reshaping the Democratic Party and America" warrants examination given the rise of "woke" ideology on the left in recent years.
"Many Americans probably don’t know exactly what terms such as anti-racism, 'cancel culture,' 'racial equity,' 'white privilege' and 'systemic racism' mean. And it’s likely even fewer could explain such concepts as 'woke ideology,' 'critical race theory' or 'intersectionality.' But these terms are now regularly invoked by activists, pundits and even some elected officials...resulting in new initiatives and policies from corporations, local and state governments and, with President Biden in office, the federal government too. Many of these policies emanated from concepts like anti-racism and systemic racism that originated in academic or activist circles."
First, it is worthwhile to examine and understand the origins of the political philosophy driving these issues into the national conversation (namely, "critical race theory"). Critical theory originated from the Frankfurt School , a group of Germans applying Marxist concepts to broader social theory. While classical Marxists focus on power structures and oppression through an economic lens (the oppressive "Bourgeoisie" or capitalists/owners of production versus the oppressed "Proletariat" or laborers/workers), critical theorists strive to understand and overcome overall social structures more broadly. One of the lenses is race, or "critical race theory", which has risen to the mainstream in academic thought circles since its introduction in the 1980s.
The core tenets of critical race theory underlie the specific points listed in the FiveThirtyEight article, including "narrative/story-telling", "white privilege/supremacy", and "institutional/systemic racism". You can recognize the Marxist underpinnings when you view "oppression" through the critical race theory lens - the oppressors in this case are caucasians (and/ or the middle class/wealthy in other variants) and the oppressed are people of color and/or the poor. Note that Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors described herself and fellow BLM co-founder Alicia Garza as "trained Marxists".
The political left is driving the Democratic Party and the FiveThirtyEight article highlights ten key ideas that are gaining acceptance as public opinion shifts left. In the last few years some of these ideas have gone from far out of the mainstream to serious consideration.
We are starting to see a legislative agenda (at the state/local AND national level) that promotes these ideas:
• The US is not “exceptional” because it has historically disempowered its women, native and black populations, and thus has never been a "true" democracy.
• White men are especially advantaged in our society.
• People of color suffer from systemic racism, not just individualized or overt acts of racism.
• Capitalism is deeply flawed in favor of the wealthy - the economy should not allow people to accumulate billions of dollars.
By Dan Hallberg, Precinct B21 co-chair
Winning future elections for local GOP candidates will not come easily. We’re seeing the impacts of changing demographics and successful DFL tactics in our area. Since 2010, we’ve had 13 elections in SD49. The DFL won 12. We won only one (Dario Anselmo in 2016). Recruiting strong candidates is difficult. In 2020, our Edina District 49A had no Republican candidate willing to run as Representative in the MN House.
There’s no question that what we’ve been doing isn’t enough anymore. The road ahead will likely be tough, especially with redistricting coming soon.
What can we do? I certainly don’t have a magic answer. But I do have a suggestion. There were more than 70 people who are vitally interested in SD49 that attended our convention February 20, via Zoom. Let’s invite those folks and anyone else interested in SD49’s survival and success to a planning meeting where we can openly discuss and debate how to win elections.
Our past SD49 candidates, including those who have moved from the area, should also be invited to participate, to share their experience and insights. Many of us have participated in successful business meetings where goals, strategies and tactics are developed. That’s why a meeting such as this, where everyone is encouraged to speak up and present ideas and solutions, is an ideal format.
Schedule this in-person meeting sometime soon, in April/May if feasible. Let’s hold this meeting in a suitable room or auditorium or even outdoors, no Zoom! I want us all to be able to see and talk to each other in the same venue.
Finally, have this meeting chaired by someone outside of SD49 who is strongly interested in and committed to SD49’s future success. A good candidate would be an incumbent or former Republican legislator who is in a leadership position and knows first-hand what we are facing and what is at stake.
On February 20, we spent three hours electing our leadership for SD49. I thought it was productive. Congratulations to everyone who assisted in hosting an excellent virtual SD49 convention. I thought it came off well, especially the electronic voting. Also, congratulations to all of our SD49 officers, chairs, and vice-chairs who were elected. There is much work to be done in 2021 and beyond.
If we spend an equal amount of time in an in-person meeting focusing only on how to win elections, we might come up with some good ideas that will work for us. I believe it will be well worth the effort. Let’s do it.
Editor Note – While an exact date for this meeting is not yet set, we’d like to gather indications of interest. Please respond to the survey CLICK HERE to let us know how you feel about attending such a meeting.
Letter to the Editor: Sun Current Newspaper, February 7
I’m concerned that the Sun Current is now embarking down the path traveled by many larger publications, which have chosen political bias over objectivity and fairness. I’m particularly troubled by the gross inconsistency between your reporting of the recent events at our nation’s Capitol and the violence that transpired this summer in many of our cities, including Minneapolis.
Let me be clear: both were utterly despicable and indefensible, and both overshadowed a legitimate expression of discontent. However, only the latter has been subject to mass condemnation in the Sun Current. While that condemnation was warranted, yours went on in virtually every story and opinion piece of your January 14 edition, and was extremely biased in its analysis. In addition to including quotes from numerous area DFL legislators plus Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips, I found it fascinating that you chose to run an article with the usual rantings of Ilhan Omar. This is the very same woman who ignored your request for candidate profile information last fall. I guess she utilizes the Sun Current on her terms, not yours.
I’m aware that editorials in your paper have advocated for healing and unity, but unfortunately so many of your journalistic brethren are doing their best to stoke division. Please don’t join them.
By Rep. Michelle Fischbach
Last week, one of the Executive Orders signed by Joe Biden was to disband the 1776 Commission. President Trump created the 1776 Commission to counter the "reckless 're-education' attempts that seek to reframe American history around the idea that the United States is not an exceptional country but an evil one." Sadly, it seems a similar effort may be underway in Minnesota.
As we advocate for School Choice this week, we need to be watchdogs of what is being taught in our public schools for the families and children who don't have options for educational opportunity. That's why we'd like to call attention to the Minnesota Department of Education's decennial review of social studies standards.
In the first draft of revisions, there are several key pieces of our world, nation and state’s history that may be dropped from our schools' social studies curricula. These missing benchmarks include major events in the American Revolution, causes of the Civil War and the two World Wars, the Holocaust, and the rise and effects of communism and socialism. The draft also suggests eliminating lessons on why and when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited and would instead ask how "people show patriotism."
Some items that made their way into the proposed standards are how freedom and democracy have included or excluded different groups, how "to recognize unfairness on the individual level and injustice at the institutional level," and "developing a respectful awareness about how ideas and norms about gender have changed over time."
The Center for the American Experiment is following this issue closely; read several more articles about the proposed changes and background on the Standards Committee at this link.
The Standards Review Committee met on January 11 to review public comments received to that point. They are currently working on the second draft of the standards, so there is still time to make your voice heard. You can submit your respectful comments directly to the Education Commissioner and the Standard Committee Chairman: [email protected] and [email protected].
Twenty years ago, parents and concerned citizens stood up to "Profiles in Learning" by using phone trees. You can make a difference, but only if you take this small action.
By Randy Sutter
* Author Note: Barbara Sutter recently attended her first Republican National Committee (RNC) meeting as Minnesota’s National Committeewoman. I tagged along as her guest. As a guest, I could not attend any of the meetings, but I was able to listen to some of the guest speakers and talk to some of the attendees.
The RNC Winter Meeting took place against a backdrop of the Georgia Special Election, the counting of the Electoral College ballots, and the Washington Rally that partially morphed into the assault on the Capitol. The rapidly unfolding events left many at the RNC sessions struggling to comprehend exactly what was going on and what lessons to take away.
Four special guest speakers helped give some perspective on how the party leaders should work going forward. Former Governor and UN Representative Nikki Haley (at left), Governor Kristi Noem (below), Governor Ron DeSantis, and Senator Rand Paul talked about their own experiences and thoughts.
Here are some of the thoughts that I took away:
As the new year gets underway, it is hard to be optimistic. The incursion into the Capitol was un-American. “We must be better than this. We cannot inflame passions. The party of personal responsibility must take personal responsibility.”
This speaker went on to challenge the delegates to be leaders. “This is not the time for whining, only for choosing.” Focus on the value that has come out of the last four years: the defeat of ISIS, the isolation of Iran, the peace process for Israel, and the pushback of China. Special note was made of the appointment of conservative judges to the Federal courts.
More work is still to be done. Elections must be free and fair. We need to accept that Biden won, but we must continue efforts for better election security. We must push for the wider use of voter ID. We must eliminate the opportunity for ballot harvesting.
We must stop Socialism in the US. “Democrats don’t trust Americans to run our own lives.”
We must stand against the “rise of Woke.” We must defend our freedom and stand strong for the guiding principles upon which the US was founded.
As Republican leaders, we need to look deeper. “We have had chances to deliver, and we haven’t always followed through.”
Our country is changing. We need to pay greater attention to the education of our children.
The reaction to the pandemic in the US has been marked by a lot of fear and a lot of emotion. The impact on the economies in many of our states is a reflection of that fear and that emotion. The states that have fared the best have not made their policy based on fear.
“COVID did not crush our economy. Government crushed our economy.” Those that feel that Government is the answer to any crisis will be only too eager to trumpet the next crisis. What will the next crisis be? Climate change? Guns? Obesity?Read more
Minnesota House Representative Steve Elkins (D, West Bloomington) led off his “Dear Neighbor” email to his constituents on January 11 with a pledge that he would “continue to advocate for your needs.” He went on to say that “COVID-19 will continue to play a significant role in how we approach legislating this year, and while we are a split legislature once more I am hopeful that we will be able to accomplish a lot of good.”
He dashed that hope two paragraphs later when he wrote, “please remember that an open Minnesota is a privilege (emphasis added)”
What Gov Walz and Attorney General Ellison have done, with the acquiescence Elkins and other members of the Democrat-controlled Minnesota House, has been to effectively close Minnesota. Their unilateral restrictions have essentially shut down gyms, bars, restaurants, churches, and event centers. They have denied Minnesotans the opportunity to assemble and to freely practice their religion. We are appalled that our representative would say publicly that our right to freely assemble and to worship together, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, should rather be considered a privilege, a privilege that can be denied by the Governor and prosecuted by the Attorney General.
Perhaps Representative Elkins should have paid more attention to his Civics lessons. At a time when less than one out of 2,500 Minnesotans has an active case of COVID-19 (source: Minnesota Department of Health), there is no justification to continue policies driven by fear and promulgated by fiat rather than by legislative action.
If you are a small business owner that has been arbitrarily shut down or a citizen that cherishes your freedom to assemble or your freedom of religion, we urge you to let Elkins know what they think of his stance. He can be reached at [email protected], or (651) 296-7803.