Peter Millin

Candidate for School Board

millinMy name is Peter Millin. I have been married for twenty years and have three children in the Northfield School system, two in high school and one in middle school.

I was born and raised in Germany and immigrated to the USA in 1987 and became a citizen in 2001.

This is my first attempt to run for any kind of public office. Here are my main goals if elected;

1. Improve accountability for teacher and student performance.
2. Provide targeted educational options for students that are not interested in attending college after high school but are interested in the trades.
3. Prioritize school spending by emphasizing education in language arts, literature, mathematics and science, and eliminate unnecessary, time wasteful “feel good” programs.

My experience in the field of education is limited as I am not an educator. However, I have proven myself in business as a hard worker and a quick learner and I am a concerned parent. I will provide a common sense approach to a very complex issue and I take seriously and understand that, as a School Board member, I am your servant. 

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Responses to questions submitted by Northfield.org participants:

1. How would you address the concerns of schools not making "Adequate Yearly Progress" as identified by the No Child Left Behind Act?

In general I agree with the concept of the “No Child Left behind Act” of trying to measure student and school performance.

As a parent I do believe we need a tool to measure our children’s and our schools performance. This will give us a general indication if our children comprehend the material taught and if educators are able to teach effectively.

Northfield schools do well when measured against US standards and this is a reason for us to be proud of our schools.

If we however, compare US schools against other industrialized nation, the picture doesn’t look quite as good. Truth is that we have lost ground over the past years, when it comes to general education.

We need to measure ourselves against the best and become even better, so our children become competitive globally.

The NCLBA is by no means a perfect solution, because there is more to learning than just basic memorization and the ability to pass a test.

The challenge for us here is, to take the concept of monitoring performance and accountability and make it better. This will require parents and educators to come up with improvements to the current process and push them up to the federal level.

One of my proposals of changing how we measure student and school performance would be to offer different paths on how to get to a high school degree.

Not every student is a high academic achiever and not all enjoy the challenges of academia and a college education. We as a community should acknowledge this and provide an alternative to the strictly academic approach.

It still should be within the frame of a high school education, but maybe in a more trade oriented approach. Testing of students should be appropriate to their chosen path.

2. Although significant budget cuts have been made in the recent past, further cost cuts or additional income might be necessary. How would you approach such a situation?

Most households already struggle with high-energy and healthcare costs, increase in property taxes and an ever-growing grocery bill. Raising more taxes or levy’s would not be my preferred option.

We have to look at the bigger picture not only in our community, but at the state and national level as well. It should be in all our interests to make public education a high priority and most people would agree on this.

Once we agree that education is our priority then we need to find ways to cut our budgets elsewhere to make money available for education.

These are never easy decision to make, but like most of us that have household budgets we are making them every day.

People are the greatest asset of our country and well educated people will make our country stronger and more competitive.

3. What do you see as particular points of pride in the Northfield Schools?

Northfield schools have created a safe, creative academic environment, where all students are included and challenged based on their abilities.

4. What relationship would you like to see between the district and the two charter schools it sponsors?

The deciding factor on charter schools should be their ability in producing results. A clear cut measurement of this depends on which publications you read.

Opinions and results vary widely on their ability to provide better or equal results when compared to public schools. I think a lot of it depends more on the individual teacher then necessarily on the type of school.

I also believe that not every child learns the same way and not every child will do well in a strict academic setting.

We should acknowledge this and provide alternatives to those students and maybe charter schools could fill that role.

In short I will support all options that further our cause of providing a good education and make us more competitive in a global market.

5. Both colleges in town have made news as leaders in bringing better --and more locally grown -- food to the students' tables. Do you feel that Northfield's public schools are doing a good job of providing our children with healthy and smart food choices?

As a parent we should always strive in giving our children the healthiest and best food possible. The most effective way to do this is by example.

Seasonal fresh food is always a better option and a balanced approach to food is important as well. Balanced in what we eat, how much we eat and where our food comes from.

All too often in the past we have put yields over quality, which has led to a deterioration not only in taste but in nutrients as well. Without a doubt a tomato raised in sunlight is much better then one that has been picked green and ripened in transport.

We do however have to be mindful and keep food affordable. The food budget in most families is the second highest expenditure after the mortgage. Yields and efficiencies are an important factor in keeping costs in check and we need to weigh those against environmental impacts and food quality and sustainability. The extremes of the past need to be re-evaluated but we should guard ourselves not to fall in to another extreme. Balance and common sense has to prevail over extremism on both sides of the spectrum.

Both colleges do the right thing in promoting this as long as it is within reason. Carleton and St. Olaf have probably more dollars to spend per student then any of our public schools. Should we monitor the food in our schools more closely? Yes. Will we be able to push it to the same level as the colleges? Yes, but we need to spend the money to do so.