Our View / Endorsement: Keep Loeffler-Kemp working for Duluth kids
Like any good parent, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp wanted her children to do well in school and have all the opportunities possible. So when she had a kindergartener and learned that art and music weren't being offered in all of Duluth's schools, she went...
Like any good parent, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp wanted her children to do well in school and have all the opportunities possible. So when she had a kindergartener and learned that art and music weren't being offered in all of Duluth's schools, she went grassroots and pushed hard and helped pass a referendum to guarantee the offerings districtwide.
Like any good School Board member, Loeffler-Kemp wants all kids in the Duluth district to do well and to have every opportunity possible. So during her first four years in elected office, she has worked on initiatives that are showing real promise in closing the achievement gap between white students and students of color, in lowering class sizes, and in providing opportunities now lacking for students who live in certain parts of our city.
On Nov. 7, voters in eastern Duluth's District 1 can reelect Loeffler-Kemp to continue her productive, promising service. They can return to office a School Board member with a reputation as an effective listener and an always-prepared public servant.
"I see running again as really an extension of the community involvement I've been a part of, the education involvement I've been a part of," Loeffler-Kemp said during a candidate screening last week with the News Tribune Editorial Board. "I know we have challenges in the district. We've accomplished a lot in the last four years, though, in a number of areas, and I want to be a part of future challenges."
As part of efforts to narrow the achievement gap and to offer equitable opportunities citywide, Loeffler-Kemp has advocated for expanding early childhood education; for implementing Ojibwe- and Spanish-immersion programs; for full-service community schools, where issues outside the classroom are addressed so students can better learn when they're in class; for an "attendance matters" campaign to reduce truancy, recognizing that kids can't learn if they're not in school; and for Pathways2Teaching, a new initiative to encourage students of color to pursue teaching careers in Duluth's public schools. While students of color make up 23 percent of enrollment in Duluth only 5 percent of teachers are minorities.
Additionally, Loeffler-Kemp recognizes the need for more mental-health services in our schools, the value of collaboration with area colleges, and the importance of appropriate class sizes.
"(Closing opportunity and achievement gaps) is an issue that not only our district is grappling with; it's an issue across Minnesota and across the country," Loeffler-Kemp said. "It's a community issue."
As such, Loeffler-Kemp can help beyond her role on the School Board. She's a board member for Community Action Duluth, which also works to address issues related to poverty. She was president of the Minnesota State Parent Teacher Association from 2006 to 2009. She has been a member of the League of Women Voters-Duluth since 1996. And she was a founding member and president of the Lakeside-Lester Park Community Club, among other ways she has been involved.
Her opponent on Nov. 7 is Kurt Kuehn, a retired corrections officer for the St. Louis County Sheriff's Department who also was a security police officer in the Air Force and as a member of the Minnesota Air National Guard 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth.
"The current board leadership has struggled to address the issues that are challenging our district most, and I think that the board needs new direction," Kuehn said during a candidate forum last week sponsored by the News Tribune and Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. "It needs new ideas. And I will be an authentic representative for the taxpayers and the students and the whole community."
Kuehn's commitment appears genuine and well-placed, but his knowledge of the district and promise of effective representation for District 1 don't match Loeffler-Kemp's.
"I think we're making some strides. Do we have more work to do? Yes," Loeffler-Kemp acknowledged. "Education is important, and I want people to know that I'll be a voice for all kids across the district."
About this endorsement
This News Tribune endorsement was determined entirely by the newspaper's editorial board. Board members are Publisher Neal Ronquist, Editorial Page Editor Chuck Frederick, Employee Representative Kris Vereecken, and citizen representatives Nathan Johnson and Terese Tomanek.