Browsing through the Faribault Daily News article, Former Medford mayor, home schooling mom file for state, Faribault offices, Bluestem is struck by the remarks of the latter.
FDN staff writer Joseph Lindberg reports:
Peggy Ployhar, a former Quality Assurance Analyst in the medical device industry and recent Special Needs Coordinator for the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators, officially added her name to the Faribault School Board race Tuesday afternoon.
“In order for our schools to keep up with those changes and still provide quality education to our increasingly diverse student population, adjustments need to be made,” she said in a release.
“Putting more revenue into a school structure which no longer works for the majority of our children in District 656 is something we can no longer afford, fiscally or socially,” she said.
Bluestem wondered how that statement might have been edited, and so found Ployhar's release at her campaign blog:
Peggy states: “The dynamics of who we are as a community have changed over the years. In order for our schools to keep up with those changes and still provide quality education to our increasingly diverse student population, adjustments need to be made. Putting more revenue into a school structure which no longer works for the majority of our children in District 656 is something we can no longer afford, fiscally or socially. I am willing to work hard to see those changes made so the quality of our public education in Faribault is consistent and relevant to the needs we are encountering now and in the future.”
Under Why I Am Running For School Board, Ployhar notes:
I guess for me to answer the question, “Why are you running for school board?” is all the more poignant since I am the mother of three school-aged children whom I choose to home school over enroll in the Faribault public school system. Well, my answer is this: I am running for a position on the Faribault school board because I am grieved over an educational system that is not meeting the needs of the children in our community (our test scores do not lie on that fact).
So what are those test scores? And what is the school system like? In the Great Schools profile of the district, Bluestem learned that the district's Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment-II scores are fairly low, but there's more. While the data is old, it reveals a student population where 43 percent of the students receive free or reduced lunches. The student body is also significantly more brown than the rest of Minnesota.
Moreover, in early May, the paper reported that the board earlier had worked to cut the district's budget:
The suggestion of a new levy came up in board meetings during the budget cuts in March. In their final decision, the school board took $350,000 from the district’s general fund and $549,000 from the district’s Separation/Severance Costs fund in order to reach their goal of $1.3 million in budget cuts.
Elsewhere on the site, Ployhar calls the school system "an ugly festering cancerous growth" that "any amount of money" couldn't rectify without "changing the core of our educational system," while proposing a "complete quality assurance audit" and staffing cuts.
Why cuts can solve the local schools' problems while no increased revenues can't isn't really explained.
She does propose a system where classrooms are open for intense scrutiny:
Classrooms need to be visited, monitored and reviewed frequently, not only by school administration but also by school board members, parents, and concerned citizens. Through this process, problems in the schools will no longer just be heard about or by word of mouth be told they were resolved, but instead they will be seen, realized, documented, followed up on, and eliminated.
Is she proposing LEFs like those supported by the Public Education Network--or what, exactly? If anything, she seems to be following the trend that privileges evaluating and punishing schools over actually devoting resources to educating.
While one can understand the need to cut budgets in the wake of revenue shortfalls, why does Ployhar connect changes in the community and diversity to the need for budget cuts? What's that thing Faribault can't afford "socially"?
Ployhar, who lives at "a 5 acre hobby farm a few miles out of Faribault" with "her husband Doug, their three children, and an ever increasing menagerie of farm animals" also blogs at Shedding Light on the Pathway Leading to True Life and Whole Foods Whole Family.
Perhaps she can use her campaign blog to shed some light on just what she means about the Faribault Schools. Her most recent experience with a household member attending a public school comes not from Faribault, but from that nearby bastion of indoctrination, the Kenyon-Wanamingo system.
In one "Shedding Light" blog post from the beginning of May, Questioning All Things For Truth, Ployhar brings it up, without naming the particular school:
The other morning as our exchange student was leaving for school our oldest son said to her, “Have fun learning everything they tell you.” She of course smiled and happily skipped out the door with every intention to do just that – believe everything she was being taught in school as completely accurate and legitimate. Naturally she did not understand the underlying reality my son was referring to, which is reiterated in the Proverb above, because she has never been taught to question but rather just believe and integrate into that belief system what she has been told. In contrast my children have been taught to question everything. That is, my children question new ideas until they come to a point where they can prove the idea they have been taught with certain evidence – solid truth.
For Ployhar, that solid truth is the Bible and she advises that any path with doesn't reconcile with the Bible should be abandoned.
Certainly, as a resident of the United States, she has the right to believe that. However, she doesn't have the right to speak for the exchange student, who is herself a blogger.
The cheerful Indonesian teenager dwelling in the Ployhar domicile isn't attending the Faribault schools, but rather catches a bus for the Kenyon-Wanamingo schools. In Joyful is always there when I try :D, she writes about learning from the local school, the family and from the Ployhar's church community.
And while English is her second language and some of her reflections are a bit difficult to parse, the intensely happy young woman seems to be more of a critical thinker than her host mother gives her credit for, however little the student employs Ployhar's single standard of "Biblical truth" for assessing everything.
The student writes in Joyful is always there when I try :D:
. . .Challenge is always there whenever you decide to leave your comfort zone. I enjoyed facing the challenge during my stay. Because I believe challenge gives me the joy when I had passed it.
During my stay, I go to Kenyon-Wanamingo High School. It is interesting because my host family do homeschool. It means they do not go to the same public school that I go to. I learned the system of the homeschool that my host family does, basically they do more exploration about their school materials and they have more flexible time. . . .
One thing I like about living in the diversity is when there is nobody even bothers with what you decide on. I enjoyed being in the church community that my host family goes to. I found such a good friendship in the youth group. I do not mind to learn what they believe in and I felt excited to share about what I believe. From that I know we all have the commonality. It was also such a joyful for me to join the church retreat for three days in the middle of fall, in which we all found the fellowship among the youth in that church. It was such an interesting thing when my friends in that retreat saw me doing my worship praying. They thought it was something strange, but I told them I was doing my pray. It just the way thing happened when people do not really familiar with a thing. So, it is important to share what people have not understood about.
Photo: Peggy Ployhar and her family, including the Indonesian exchange student. From the Ployhar campaign website.