Election 2015: St. Paul School Board candidates you don’t have to worry about

In an attempt to impose some organization on this process, I’m going to do a relatively quick post on the candidates I’m not seriously considering voting for, with some information on why. To recap, there are nine candidates on the ballot and four seats. There are four DFL-endorsed candidates and one incumbent who’s running without endorsement. That leaves four remaining candidates, none of whom are really all that viable: Scott Raskiewicz, Linda Freeman, Greg Copeland, and Aaron Anthony Benner.

Scott Raskiewicz

Scott finds e-mail, texting, and Internet interactions “dehumanizing” and on his web page (which, to his credit, he did set up) says that if anyone wants to talk to him, they need to make contact “via the humanizing and democrating means of the United States Post Office.”

Have the St. Paul schools put too much emphasis on shiny, shiny technology? I have $8 million worth of annual iPad costs that says yes. Am I interested in electing a candidate who insists that I need to go buy a stamp in order to ask him basic questions? NO. I do kind of wonder where he found an answering service (which you can use for “urgent matters” but he wants to scold you about how “with foresight — a key to education – few things become urgent”) here in 2015, but not enough to write him a letter asking about it.

He does say that if he’s elected he’s resigned to spending some time reading e-mail, though he doesn’t actually commit to answering it. Other information about him: he has a book out called “Economic Democracy: Ending the Corporate Domination of our Lives.” (I found no reviews of it.) He spent seventeen years as a substitute teacher in the St. Paul Public Schools and has also been a “tennis teaching professional.”

Anyway, anyone who demands postal mail when running for office is a flake.

Linda Freeman

Linda is a teacher running for school board and is organized enough to have t-shirts, yard signs, and brochures that have been translated into Hmong and Karen.

What she doesn’t seem to have: a website with her positions in English.

On her personal FB page I did find this statement:

“Getting my platform out there! Hope to create a dialogue.
Linda Freeman is ready to serve a dynamic school district!
a district that attracts families to programs they want for their children
a district that’s preparing to develop world-class early childhood education
a district that hires and retains highly educated teachers and support staff
a district that assures that ipads don’t become behavior management
a district that listens regularly to the people working closely with children
a district that uses best practices to close the acheivement gap
a district that welcomes and meets all children and families where they’re at
a district that expects desegregation
a district that understands how to guide children to
their full potential, joyful community, self discipline and peace”

But, as noted, it’s on her personal FB page so no one can reply to it unless they’re her FB friend (or possibly a friend-of-a-friend), making it hard to “create a dialogue.” She does have a FB group for her campaign, and her bio is up there, but absolutely nothing substantive. Seriously, she has pictures up of the Hmong and Karen brochures but she hasn’t put the English text up anywhere.

I’ve concluded she’s a flake. It’s possible that she has a real website somewhere and accidently included the code that keeps Google from indexing it — that’s surprisingly common — so I left a comment on one of her FB photos asking about this and we’ll see if she replies.

Greg Copeland

Greg Copeland is a Republican and perennial candidate who was once a jaw-droppingly incompetent city manager for Maplewood. I would not even recommend voting for him if you’re a Republican. (If you’re a Republican, you probably want to vote for the endored DFLers, while weeping into your tea. I mean, the current board hired the Pacific Education Group, and while plenty of DFLers are skeptical of PEG, Republicans really loathe it.)

Aaron Anthony Benner

Benner is “outspoken St. Paul Teacher Aaron Benner” — he’s a black man and a youngish teacher who worked for a while at a school in the Rondo neighborhood. He’s so outspoken he actually appeared on The O’Reilly Factor to talk about how awful things were. (That’s a strike against him, but on doing a lot of reading about him, I would say that this is a man who is really passionately frustrated by the low expectations of black students and willing to ally with conservatives to bring attention to what he sees as incredibly urgent problems.)

The reason why Brenner’s in this post and not with the candidates I might vote for: he’s not actually running anymore. He likes his new job at a charter school quite a lot, enough that he doesn’t want to take the time either to campaign or to serve.

So, no longer a candidate, but his take on SPPS is still interesting in a hair-raising way. In addition to stories of constantly disruptive and even violent kids, he talks about open retaliation from the district. They couldn’t fire him (he was tenured) but they fired his teaching aide with no warning despite previously stellar reviews.

There is also a write-in candidate, Rashad Turner. I’m going to tackle him with the real candidates because despite not actually getting his act together in time to be on the ballot, he’s at least got a website, positions, a donations link, etc.


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