Jim Thomas has dropped out of the mayor’s race and decided to back Mark Andrew’s campaign, citing his commitment to improving the quality of educational opportunities for youth in the city.
Thomas, profiled by the Journals earlier this year after he launched his campaign in April, has been a Minneapolis Public Schools teacher since 1987. He announced his decision at a joint press conference with Andrew in North Minneapolis on Monday.
“Although I’m stepping out of the mayoral election my commitment to fight against lowering teacher qualifications and for fairly funding public schools is not over,” he said. “I’m endorsing Mark Andrew because he stands up for students, families, and teachers. Mark has also focused on closing our opportunity gaps and it’s not empty rhetoric.”
Andrew said he was honored to have Thomas’ endorsement.
“There is no question that he is deeply committed to the future of our city and our public schools,” he said. “Jim Thomas has been the only other candidate who has recognized that investing in our children is a goldmine for our city; there is no nobler goal than improving the lives of our city’s children. Jim has run with courage and conviction and our city is better for it.”
Meanwhile, other mayoral candidates also released education proposals at press conferences Monday.
Betsy Hodges unveiled her “Cradle-To-K” initiative, which includes proposals to expand the Healthy Start program serving low-income families, increase access to childcare and a mayor’s cabinet working on early childhood programming, among other things.
Don Samuels released his education policy proposal that points to case studies in Newark, Los Angeles and Denver — cities where mayors don’t have formal control over the schools but are getting involved to improve outcomes for students.
Samuels has also pledged to create a Trust for Innovation in Minneapolis Education (TIME) Fund if elected mayor. The fund would use private money to award grants and loans to organizations and schools that find creative solutions to tackle the achievement gap.
He also pointed to Harvest Prep Academy and Hiawatha Academy, two schools in Minneapolis that have 99 percent students of color and 95 percent of students on free and reduced lunch, as two bright spots that are showing promising outcomes for students. He said practices at those schools should be models for others in the city.
At a City Hall press conference, Cam Winton said he provides a stark difference in education policy from Hodges and Andrew. He supports charter schools; wants more opportunities for Teach for America; would end “first-in, last-out,” which reduces teacher tenure rights; and wants to push for longer school days, among other policies.
“From some of my opponents I am hearing a whole lot of re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” Winton said.