On teacher Lucky Rosenbloom's school desk, there's a package of Twinkies. In his bottom right desk drawer, there's a bulk container filled with pink candy.
"The key to classroom management is right here," he said, pointing to the container. "It's candy."
Then he laughs and admits that the candy is really for his own sweet tooth.
Rosenbloom, a 45-year-old Powderhorn resident and St. Paul charter school teacher, is passionate about teaching and engaging young people. He likes to surround himself with youth, and if elected, he plans to fill school board meetings "with 30, 40, 50 teenagers so they can tell us what's really going on," he said.
Though he's lost in several state and local races before, the Republican says he'll win this year because of his experience with youth and the schools.
Though school board races are non-partisan, receiving the DFL endorsement in Minneapolis frequently ensures election. But Rosenbloom, an urban teacher focused on connecting youth with services and building relationships with them, thinks he's a Republican who can break through.
"We need to find out a way to alleviate those adversarial relationships. I have to tell [students] I am not against you," said Rosenbloom. "I'm your teacher; we work together. The first line to resolve that adversarial issue is with the teacher. If teachers would learn to be more supportive of students and understand where students are coming from, we will reduce the dropout rate. … Not by spending a whole lot of money, but by teaching teachers how to build relationships with students."
Rosenbloom is positive that, despite future budget cuts, the schools can lower the dropout rate and improve test scores by cutting ineffective programs and replacing them with innovative programs.
As a Minneapolis North High School dean, Rosenbloom said he developed a successful in-school suspension program that reduced dropout rates. If elected, he plans to implement the same program at more city high schools.
"In that program, I kept kids that were suspended for three or four days, and I had a chance to sit down and build relationships with these students and find out what's going on in their families and their communities, and find out why they aren't staying in the classroom. I'll be looking to implement in the Minneapolis schools my dropout prevention program."
Though others see the School Board as a policy-making group, Rosenbloom doesn't think working on specific programs is out of their jurisdiction. "Why couldn't it be a school board issue?" he asked. "If we're really concerned about our young people we need to take the extra step. As a school board member, I would deal with policy. But you're also going to see me in classrooms."
Rosenbloom, who worked as a paralegal before receiving his education degree, said he often incorporates his legal experience into his classroom. "I teach young people to stand up for themselves within the legal system," he said. "One thing that we have to do for people is to allow them to know that whatever happens to you, you always have the right to stand up for yourself. But you don't have the right to take the law into your own hand and do things that are self-destructive."
Rosenbloom has often used the legal system himself. According to Hennepin County and federal court records, he's sued five previous employers, often alleging racial or religious discrimination: Senior Resource, Inc ., the Minnesota Council on Black Aging; Odyssey Charter School; The Urban League; and Southside Community Health Services. Based on court records, it appears all the cases were settled or Rosenbloom's claims were rejected.
In 2001, when Rosenbloom was at North High, a female student charged him with sexual harassment after he gave her a three-day suspension. Citing a lack of a witness or evidence, district Director of Diversity and Equal Opportunity Steven Belton wrote to Rosenbloom, "There is no basis to verify her complaint, and accordingly, we do not find that you acted inappropriately with respect to [the] specific allegations."
However, the Hennepin County court granted the student a restraining order against Rosenbloom. Two months later, the court gave Rosenbloom a restraining order against the student. Rosenbloom left North in 2001 because of budget cuts.
About the sexual harrassment allegation, Rosenbloom said, "We don't respond to lies, and everybody in the school district, including the person who investigated it, said it was unfounded -- basically, something that is untrue."
Margaret Westin, the Minneapolis schools' assistant general counsel, said the district doesn't record restraining orders against employees because the district does not file them. She said such an order "doesn't happen frequently, but it's not unique."
Westin also said the district gets two or three sexual harrassment allegations per year, though that number doesn't include those settled within schools.
Placing fifth out of 12 candidates in the Sept. 10 primary, Rosenbloom finished just behind the four DFL-endorsed candidates for the four available seats. He is confident that his community reputation will help him win in November.
"It's been no secret -- people read about me in the newspapers… they know I'm a fighter," said Rosenbloom. "They know I'm not a selfish person; they know whatever I do, I stand up for other people. … That's one of the reasons God put me on this earth, and given me the kind of recognition that he's given me to stand up for other people and myself."
Address: 3023 18th Ave. S., 55407
E-mail: [email protected]
Endorsements: Minneapolis Police Federation, Black Republican Coalition
Family: Single, two kids