New Ulm School Board – Amanda Groebner
Why are you running for election to this position?
I am running for my second term on the School Board because I believe in the necessity of public education, strongly support teachers as the professionals they are, and am motivated by the best interests of all students.
Strong schools mean a strong community. We are fortunate to have strong educational choices in our community; however public schools play a unique role. From the founding of our country and state, our leaders believed that free, universal education for all its citizens is necessary for a functioning republic. I share that belief.
I support teachers and staff. As someone who has received a teaching license, I understand education from an educator’s perspective. Teachers are highly trained professionals who understand and apply best educational practices to deliver quality education and create environments where all students can succeed.
I care about our students. I believe all students matter and all students can succeed, and I am committed to providing quality education and an environment in which each student is valued and has the support they need to succeed.
I ask for your vote so I can continue to support the students and staff of New Ulm and to be a voice for the community.
What is the top issue facing Independent School District 88?
Mental health. Currently, our country has a mental health crisis, and students and staff are not immune. The problem only worsened with the pandemic. Although schools have mostly returned to “normal,” the emotional needs of our students and staff must be addressed in order to provide the best educational environment in our schools.
Research shows that individuals that feel connected to others at their school have better outcomes in terms of their mental health. Providing a safe environment in the school is an essential first step. Schools must be free from bullying, and all students and staff must feel welcome. Our district has a good base for this with programs such as Social Emotional Learning and our district’s goal of equity and inclusion.
Teachers are in the classroom to teach. Most are not trained in mental health issues, and the qualified specialists in the schools are spread too thin. Providing enough advisors, counselors, and therapists will help ensure our students’ needs are adequately addressed and lessen the load on our teachers.
Students cannot learn, and teachers cannot teach to their abilities if their mental health needs are not addressed. Therefore, our district must continue to evaluate needs and provide safe environments and supports for our schools.
What is your primary goal if elected to the school board?
My number one goal has always been to be committed to doing what is right for all children. Whether that is providing the best academic education we can for all our students or creating an atmosphere where all students feel safe and welcome, I am here for all students.
Do you support the operating levy renewal referendum?
Yes, I absolutely support the referendum.
I support this referendum because it allows the district to fund the programs and services our students need to succeed, such as Special Education, gifted and talented programs, preschool programs, low class sizes, counseling, etc. The private schools in our community also use many of these services, so the levy renewal helps all students in the district.
The State of Minnesota mandates that school districts provide certain programs to their students. While the state has promised to fund these programs in the past, they have not fulfilled that promise, leaving school districts to pay for them out of their general funds. This “cross-subsidy” results in a shortfall for the district. In 2012 the district asked the community for a levy referendum to cover much of this cross-subsidy. That referendum expires at the end of this year. The state has not yet provided its promised funding, so the district is asking the community to renew the levy. As a school board member, I understand this places an undue burden on our residents. I have lobbied our representatives to prioritize education in the state’s budget and live up to their commitment. I will continue to do that if re-elected.
Why or why not should the board be providing information in the schools on U.S. history of race relations?
The school board does not provide information in schools. Instead, its job is to approve a curriculum that meets the State of Minnesota academic standards. In District 88, each academic area creates a curriculum based on an established procedure. It is then presented to the District Curriculum and Advisory Committee, which is made up of staff, school board members, students, parents, and community members. Once complete, the curriculum is presented to the school board for approval.
I believe that race relations are a critical part of American history. Therefore, understanding events such as our interactions with Indigenous peoples, slavery and its aftermath, World War 2 and internment camps, and the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century to today should be expected of all US citizens. ?
Why or why not should the board be providing information in the schools on gender/sexual identity?
Parents and schools both have a responsibility to teach students about health education. Students should learn in school medically accurate, evidence-based, and age-appropriate information regarding all aspects of their health. At the higher grades, this includes discussions on gender, sexuality, reproduction, consent, etc. Parents are notified when these topics will be discussed, and they can choose to have their child opt out of the lesson. With the common basis of knowledge taught in school, parents can then discuss these issues with their children and impart their own moral values to them.
In younger grades, there is no gender or sexual instruction. However, in the ordinary course of study and interaction between students and teachers, concepts such as spouses, parents, families, boys and girls, men and women, etc., are naturally discussed. If it’s age-appropriate to talk with students about their moms, dads, brothers, and sisters, then it is appropriate to be able to talk about all of the family structures our students experience. Teachers and students shouldn’t be restricted from talking about their families.
What else would you like to address regarding this election and the position?
I moved to New Ulm a dozen years ago and have tried to be an active and productive member of the community. I have been on boards, commissions, and committees and have volunteered hundreds of hours to make our community stronger.
I chose to run for school board because my passion is public schools and their students. They are the future of our communities, locally and globally.
My job as a school board member is to listen to all stakeholders, examine the evidence, and do what I determine is best for all students and staff in our district. If I am re-elected, I will continue to prioritize the needs of all of our students and staff. I am here for the students, our staff, and the betterment of our community. I believe that is what most people want from a school board member, and I ask for your vote.