Wednesday, November 5, 2008

281 Referendum Passes: Now the Work Begins

Well, I am happy and relieved to report that 281 Referendum Q1 & Q2 passed in a general election year. This should reassure folks that a large number of citizens participated in making the decision. (ie not a minority in an off year vote)

Question 1 Yes = 30,083 No = 24,490
Question 2 Yes = 28,552 No = 25,913

Now what concerns me is that a large portion of the community felt this was a poor investment. (ie 24,490 people) Now you can't please all the people all the time, however this needs to improve. My interpretation of this large number is that:
  • The school district needs to do a better job of collaborating with the community, informing the community and increasing the transparency of their strategy, plan/priorities, expenditures and results.
  • The school district absolutely needs to ensure all 281 schools meet the AYP academic measures. The citizens have set this as JOB 1 for schools by adopting No Child Left Behind. (ie this come before sports, art, music, humanities, electives, etc)
  • The citizens need to dedicate more time collaborating with the district, clarifying their expectations regarding the District/schools and really learning about their community schools
  • The citizens need to volunteer within the schools. This is critical to developing empathy and trust. Besides, with our aging population, there is no excuse that struggling students don't have a mentor/tutor to help them. (kid learns and adult gets to share their knowledge)

By the way, "The Big Stink" from Freedom Dogs and I have a disagreement going. He believes that 281 (ie public education) is a monopolistic bureaucracy that has pushed the citizens out of it. I believe that the citizens got too busy chasing the dream, and stopped helping out the community schools. I sincerely hope the district and it's citizens prove us both wrong in the coming year.

Thanks again to all the folks that helped give the district/community breathing room !!! Now let's all work together to improve the RAS/community relations and help our kids succeed !!!

As always, my statements are pretty opinionated on purpose. (ie too drive discussion) So make comments and straighten me out. (I have been wrong before and will be wrong again. ) Or help me understand how you feel the district could better meet your needs. I would like to combine the comments and present them to RAS and the community.

Either via the blog or at


R-Five said...

A win's a win. I doubt you will see margins much better than this, anyway.

The first rule of good communication is not to insult these NO voters. A taxpayer has every right to think the District has enough money already given the large sums currently being spent.

Keep the message positive: all carrots, no sticks, and be willing to admit that some of your points may be wrong, too.

John said...

I in no way meant to insult the NO voters and apologize if my comments came across that way. Hopefully, I have repeatedly stressed "my belief" that once a citizen has done some real research. Any vote they place is the right one.

If you sense frustration, it is probably with the parents of 281 students. There were incredible volunteers within the schools, community and YES281, however in "my opinion" there should have been many more. (at least given the outrage I have been listening to from them for the last 2+ years)

So we are back to the point of this blog, do YES & NO voting citizens want to get involved in the community schools? Or do they want to live their lives, delegate school mgmt to the admin/board, and get involved only when the money runs out?

My natural tendency is towards delegation and trust, however that means I trust them when they ask for more money... (ie silence is approval in this case)

Now you should sense by now that I have a tendency towards being an overachiever... So, "my goal" if we have to go through this again some year is to attain the overwhelming mandate that Mpls schools got yesterday. Mpls Levy Results The citizens and district really got it done on question 1...

Final point: I have been wrong before and will be wrong again. Please comment and straighten me out... Thanks for the perspective r-five !!!

lefeverce said...

I also would have loved to see our referendum pass with the same level of support as in Minneapolis. But I'm so thankful that it passed!
And I can't speak for r-five, but I assume his advice not to insult the no side was at least in part due to the "adults behaving badly" comment that Stan Mack made last year. It was very understandable that he was frustrated in that specific situation, but unfortunately it just threw fuel on the fire. It has continued to come up over and over.
It looks like there's no listening session for December, so I may have to send the school board an email. I would say the majority of parents who voted yes are under the impression that we are getting elementary art teachers back, which is not true. I've already been to one listening session to discuss this, but I think the board should consider reprioritizing some of the money spent on transportation in an effort to fund more education. Anoka-Hennepin charges for bussing, and I think it's something to consider in certain situations. I figured if the levy failed, it would be a moot point, but now I think it's worth re-examining.

rdalekids said...


Thank you for your openness. First, "Big Stink" is mostly correct. Without real choice for parents "GOVERNMENT EDUCATION" is a monopoly.

I have been at over 80% of the School Board meetings, working sessions and public meetings during the last couple of years. They have listened, but ONLY because of the pressure from the community. The key will be if they continue to move forward or revert to OLD HABITS of the STATUS QUO when the pressure is off. Therefore, I don't trust that we can delegate to the Administration or current School Board.

Have you attended many Board meetings over the last couple of years?

John said...

Hi Rdalekids,
No I have not attended many school board meetings. The by laws, motions, political correctness, niceties, etc that are required in that form do not fit my more outspoken, talk it out, plan it and execute it personality. I am extremely skilled with teams of 6 -12 people that have common goals. Unfortunately I am not very skilled with large groups that have diverse goals. I would make a very poor politician.