Schools notebook // Franken visits The Blake School

Sen. Franken visits The Blake School

Sen. Al Franken reminisced about his high school years and answered student questions during a visit to The Blake School’s Lowry Hill campus Nov. 14.

Franken attended The Blake School beginning in the 10th grade and graduated from the school in 1969. But he never set foot on the Minneapolis campus as a student since his time at Blake predated the 1974 merger of an all-boys campus in Hopkins with an all-girls campus in Minneapolis.

Franken flipped through an old high school yearbook during a brief meeting with Head of School John Gulla before speaking to a student assembly. Asked by one student what could be done to fix a “politically dysfunctional system” of government, Franken urged the students to get involved in politics.

“The energy really does come from people your age and slightly older,” he said.

The students’ questions touched on a variety of topics, including the Occupy Wall Street protests, a recent “60 Minutes” report on alleged insider trading among members of Congress and several recent proposals for federal anti-bullying measures to protect gay and lesbian students from harassment in schools. Franken introduced such a bill in 2010.

“That’s going to be hard to get through Congress, especially the House, but I’m going to try,” he said.

In his introduction of Franken, Gulla pointed out that Franken was not the only alumni of The Blake School currently serving in a prominent elected office. Gov. Mark Dayton (’65) and his counterpart in North Dakota, Gov. Jack Dalrymple (’66), are both Blake graduates.

“Not bad for one school here in the Twin Cities,” he said.


Plan to replace Lee on School Board set

The School Board in November announced its plans to appoint a replacement for Board Member Lydia Lee.

Lee, the School Board’s longest-serving member, announced at the beginning of the month that she would resign from the board “due to family commitments that will take [her] out of Minnesota for an undetermined amount of time.” Her seat becomes vacant Jan. 10.

An appointee will complete the remainder of Lee’s term, which runs until January 2013. Those seeking the position have until 5 p.m. Dec. 2 to submit an application to the School Board.

According to a timeline released by the district, the School Board will rank the applicants in early December and notify the five highest-ranked applicants by Dec. 8. Those five applicants will be invited to a Dec. 15 public interview in front of the School Board.

The board will vote on Lee’s replacement Dec. 20.

Candidates will be asked to disclose their intentions for the 2012 election, when voters will elect six members to the School Board. Five current board members are up for election next year, and voters will also choose a candidate to fill a sixth seat created through an ongoing, voter-approved expansion of the School Board.

Board Member Hussein Samatar pushed to include the disclosure in the applications because, he said, an incumbent — even an appointed one — would have an advantage in the coming election.

“I feel like we have to ask them yes or no or maybe,” Hussein said.

The School Board last faced an unexpected vacancy in 2010, when Pam Costain resigned from the board to become CEO of AchieveMpls, the district foundation. Former board member Peggy Flanagan was appointed to serve out the final few months of Costain’s term and did not choose to seek election that fall.

Lee pointed out that the difference between that situation and the appointment of her replacement was timing. By the spring of 2010, an election year, any applicant seeking to fill Costain’s seat would already have begun a campaign, but Lee’s seat will be filled before the deadline to file for office.


Science career expo is Nov. 30

Students can learn about career options in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields in the Nov. 30 STEM Expo co-sponsored by Minneapolis Public Schools.

The district reported about 700 Minneapolis students in the 8th and 9th grades would attend the events’ morning and afternoon sessions. An evening session will be open to district families and the public and will include activities for people of all ages.

Students can visit the Career Alley to meet in small groups with STEM professionals. An Exhibit Fair will include more information on STEM careers, as well as after-school and community programs.The STEM Expo opens to the public 6:15 p.m.–8 p.m. Nov. 30 at Lincoln Community School, 1200 N. Penn Ave.