I’m not much of a Duluth School Board aficionado. I pay closer attention during times of controversy and contention, and generally, I guess I feel grateful that anyone is willing to take on the job: it’s not just a political role with all of the barbed consequences you’d expect, it’s also an incredible time commitment (five-hour meetings!). This year I’m paying much closer attention.
We have so much work to do; the whole world feels divided. Whatever we can do locally, we should do. That’s why I need to talk about Harry Welty. I’ve heard for years that Welty is the cause of much of the dysfunction on the Board, and is obstructive and antagonistic when his peers disagree. To better understand what of this was rumor and what was fact, I read through Welty’s blog and watched School Board meeting footage. Welty’s blog is a collection of insults, condescension (to both peers and parents), rants, and outright bullying. He assaults the character and caliber of anyone who disagrees, calling them hysterical, inconsequential, or implying they’re stupid or irrelevant. Even cursory review of School Board meetings show him literally ignoring fellow members during decision-making, talking over peers, and dismissing or completely ignoring what his fellows are saying. More than ever before, we need leaders who listen, collaborate, and compromise. Welty does not, cannot, and will not - one great thing about Welty’s lengthy track record is that we can say that much with empirical certainty. I find myself asking whether the candidates he’s bankrolled (Bogdana Krivogorsky and Kurt Kuehn) can be expected to behave any differently.
The short of it is simple: a guy that resorts to name-calling, insults, and bullying has no place in any school system. That’s exactly what we’re trying to teach our kids not to do.