Academics over Agendas
Nicole grew up in the small farming community of Willmar, MN. When it came time to marry, raise her family, and begin her career as a school teacher, she and her husband moved to the St. Cloud area. It is here, in the St. Cloud area, that Nicole has dedicated her life and her family. She gave 20 years, off and on, to School District 742 as a teacher. She has seen first hand all of the beauty and potential this school district can offer its students and their families. She has also seen where it is going off course. A school's focus must be academics, but clearly something is going amiss in ISD 742 where the graduation rate is under 70%. Nicole's focus is placing academics over agendas.
There are a number of reasons behind my decision to seek a seat on the St. Cloud District 742 School Board and I’d like to take this moment to share some with you. When something isn’t working, the easy way is simply to complain about how and what should be and leave it at that; but having watched my own children having to deal with what’s going on in our schools, I believe now is the time to step up, take a stand, and work to make a positive difference.
Over the last 20 years, I’ve been in the role of a teacher -- some part-time, some full. In that same time, I’ve also been a full-time parent. It has been my children who have helped me come to this decision. They’ve helped me recognize that the missing element in our schools today is the assurance that the classroom should be a place of personal, intellectual, academic, and social safety. The safe learning environment is being disrupted by political agendas and policy decisions aimed at undermining even the most basic human and intellectual values that we trust for security and stability. My children did not feel safe attending our public schools. And I’ve come to learn that many of our teachers don’t feel safe, either. Behavioral issues have overtaken a meaningful school teaching curriculum. A primary reason parents cite for opting for open enrollment or homeschooling is safety in the classroom, or the lack of it. This must change, because what follows is a cascade of deterioration in the quality of education.
Academic standards are suffering as schools struggle to maintain order in the classroom. But rather than dealing directly with classroom behavior, the district’s response was to lower the achievement bar. Yet even applying a system of Pass/Fail in lieu of letter grades and a numeric grand point average does not translate into a graduation rate exceeding 70 percent! Instead of challenging our children to excel, the focus turned upside down, to doing the bare minimum to get by. And still, almost 30 percent of our children couldn’t find their way to graduation! Recently, I learned of a junior high science class where only 4 students in the entire class were able to participate in a lab. The reasoning for only the 4 was that a grade of a C or higher was required to participate in the learning activity.
The awkward question becomes: are these the same students we’ll call upon to be our airline pilots, our surgeons, our accountants, our structural engineers, our scientists, our leaders in a productive society?
Our children have become the pawns of individuals who place their political aspirations, their dreams of social engineering and driving social policy, of putting those enticing federal and state reimbursements also driven by a political agenda, ahead of our children’s futures. The School Board’s primary directive is to assure our children are receiving the best education possible, not to further a social agenda that drives a wedge between students and teachers, children and parents, or between the children themselves.
If there was a silver lining in all the disruption of the last two years, it has been that parents got a real, up-close view of what has been going on in our schools, and what has not. I firmly believe District 742 has a lot to offer. We have dedicated teachers who want to teach. We need to refocus our budget resources to help our students learn the basic tenets of those disciplines that are reflected in the manifestations of a productive society. We need to challenge our students to reach higher, do better, and achieve greater. The St. Cloud Public School Board of Education serves the noble purpose to bringing these aspirations to reality, and that is why I’m running for a seat on the School Board. Thank you.