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Minneapolis School Board

Patty Wycoff, Bryn Mawr neighborhood activist, running for District 4 School Board

Adapted from the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 26, 2012

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS — Bryn Mawr neighborhood activist and public school parent Patty Wycoff is the AFL-CIO candidate for the District 4 seat on the Minneapolis School Board. Wycoff also has been endorsed by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.

District 4 includes most of downtown as well as Bryn Mawr, Cedar-Isles-Dean, East Calhoun, Elliot Park, Kenwood, Loring Park, Lowry Hill, and Whittier neighborhoods.

Wycoff entered the race at the urging of neighbors and friends after the withdrawl of Darrell Washington, the candidate who originally won labor’s endorsement.

Patty Wycoff:
Endorsed by AFL-CIO and Minneapolis Federation of Teachers

Patty Wycoff website:

Patty Wycoff

For the last few years, Wycoff notes, neighbors and friends encouraged her to run for school board. “My experience prepared me for this,” says Wycoff,  a longtime neighborhood activist and public school volunteer. “I think I will bring a positive light to the board and a perspective that isn’t represented.”

She says the school district needs to do a better job working together with the community to address the district’s challenges, not just announce sweeping changes. “They need to engage people before, during and after,” Wycoff says. “The people in the communities may have the answer to the problem.”

Reducing class size is an important concern for Wycoff. “Closing the achievement gap is going to be very difficult for this district to do with the class sizes we have,” she says.

She adds: “I think it’s very easy to blame the teachers and not blame the bigger problem — which is poverty. People want someone to blame. Unfortunately, they blame the teacher.”

“I have spent a lot of time volunteering in the classroom,” Wycoff reports. “I have seen a lot of amazing, talented, dedicated teachers.”

“I support licensed, qualified experienced teachers,” Wycoff says. “The research shows us they are the best teachers and I’ve seen them in action. I support strongly seniority and tenure for teachers — my opponent does not.”

“I want my teachers and all teachers in Minneapolis to be able to stand up to injustices and not worry about losing their jobs,” Wycoff says. “That’s vital to a successful district.”

Wycoff has a degree in elementary education from Winona State University and from 1992-1996 worked as a substitute teacher in the Minneapolis and Richfield school districts. She has been an active Parent Teacher Organization member since 2003 and has served on numerous school and community committees.

Wycoff has two children in the Minneapolis Public Schools, a son at the
interdistrict FAIR School in Crystal and a daughter at Southwest High.

Married to Morris Engel, Wycoff has lived in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood for 18 years. She currently works part-time as the community organizer for the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association.

Wycoff comes from a union family. “My dad raised eight kids in Bloomington on his income as a meatcutter,” she relates. “I lived a lovely middle class life because my dad was in a union and had a good wage and benefits.” Like her father, her mother and also a sister have worked as members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Another sister is an American Postal Workers Union member while a brother is a union construction worker.

Wycoff won the three-candidate primary election with more than 60 percent of the vote but she isn’t taking the general election for granted. She seeks further endorsements from individuals and also encourages supporters to join her in doorknocking.

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers endorses
Patty Wycoff for District 4 school board

“A healthy debate about the leadership of the Minneapolis School Board is underway in District 4,” said Louise Sundin, former president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. I hope union members ask the candidates about their stances on privatization and school funding.

Labor endorsed candidate Patty Wycoff is a strong defender of the public schools and she opposes any use of public funds for private education. She’s helped fight for adequate funding of Minneapolis Public schools and school funding levy referendums, said Sundin, who currently serves as executive vice president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.

By contrast, Sundin added, Wycoff opponent Josh Reimnitz has stated that he is open to the idea of public funds being used for private schools, and he admits to a lack of involvement in levy referenda campaigns.”

“Minneapolis parents know that cuts in state education funding have hit our schools especially hard,” Sundin said. “That’s why we thought voters should know the positions candidates for school board have considered when it comes to diverting taxpayer dollars to private schools.”

This spring, Josh Reimnitz filled out a questionnaire, dated April 26, 2012, for the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. In response to a question about the extent public money should be used to fund private K-12 education, he wrote, “if the private school is open to all children regardless of background, and the staff is well-treated, I believe public money can fund such an endeavor.”

Sundin continued, “school board members should understand the daily struggle to find enough resources to keep our public school libraries open, maintain our public school buildings and lift up all the kids hurt by the achievement gaps.”

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers has endorsed Patty Wycoff in the District 4 race. “Patty has been a community organizer and Minneapolis Public Schools supporter for 17-plus years. She spends time in our schools nearly every week and knows these challenges,” said Sundin. “She knows our kids and our schools. She’s the best choice for school board in this race.”

Patty Wycoff website:

Also labor-endorsed for Minneapolis School Board:
Bates, Ellison, Asberry

In addition to Patty Wycoff running in District 4, three other candidates are running for Minneapolis School Board with AFL-CIO endorsement.

They include:

• Incumbent Carla Bates, who is running for an at-large seat on the school board. Bates won her four-candidate primary with nearly 56 percent of the vote.

Kim Ellison, who is running unopposed for the District 2 school board seat representing north Minneapolis.

Tracine Asberry, who is unopposed for the District 6 school board seat representing southwest Minneapolis.



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