"Because the Best Schools Start
with Parents Feeling Heard."
As I watch the world around us struggle to move closer to one another in how we educate our children, I feel compelled to pursue being a bridge between perspectives.
While some think it's too late to find common ground...
I believe the time is now.
November 9th, 2022
Well, we're on the other side of the school board election, and I didn't win. I'm disappointed, of course, but I trust in the knowledge that I heard his Voice last winter when I agreed to run for office. Although it was technically a losing effort for me, we accomplished so much. It's hard not to acknowledge that there were victories along the way. For example:
The friends I worked so hard with, John R. Anderson and Mindy Freiberg, did win, and they are going to serve on the ISD728 school board honorably.
We raised issues, like the need for parents to be heard, to the point that it actually happened.
Parents' voices were counted at the polls, and they have most definitely been heard.
The school board is going to have more equal representation than ever before. A new group of conservative and liberal people got the message that "parents are part of the solution, not the problem."
Teachers' unions and long entrenched administrators learned that their comfortable positions can be made less so. The educational echo chamber, long in need of new perspective, was not so firmly protected that new points of view could be kept out of the conversation forever.
The new school board is going to look entirely different, and they have the mandate to ask tough questions, bring new ideas, and pump the brakes on previously unobstructed union agendas.
One union representative said that if we disagree with the union, we disagree with teachers. Having talked to teachers privately, we quickly learned that was not the truth.
Teachers came to find that we wanted to work with them and not against them; we could be part of getting more parents involved with their kid's education and collaborating with teachers for the betterment of all.
There were many victories.
I've been asked several times today if I plan to run again in two years, and the most honest answer is I don't know. If I had won, perhaps it would be easier to say, "four years are enough." Since I lost, my emotions have been a bit uncertain. One thing I am sure of is this:
I did all I could to raise issues I felt called to lift up.
I took some personal hits, but my heart is still intact. I made friends I will never forget, and I visited homes I never knew existed. Campaigning is an education you can't possibly predict without actually engaging in it, and even though you might not win, you always earn a degree of sorts. I know I earned mine. Time will tell what job I apply it in.
If you're a person of faith, you will understand this: I will go anywhere God sends me and nowhere He does not. Whatever is next for me is in His hands. Until then, I will do what I always do: listen for His voice.
Therefore, God willing, I will See you soon.
J. Brian Calva
Even after 60-plus years, I want to think I have a young perspective on our future. I believe we are just getting started, even as so much seems to be in turmoil.
I've been blessed with a Faith in God that directs me to give back to the community, not run from it. Further, I desire to lead others to do the same, and although I think that starts in the home, I believe strongly that schools can mirror healthy home life instead of seemingly working against it.
I also feel strongly that teachers have a nearly impossible job, and my days of sitting on the sidelines and expecting them to take the lead alone in our children's instructions are both unkind and unwise.
I wish to run for school board, not to be adversarial (although confrontation does not frighten me) but to do my part "Co Laboring" with others in the education of our future.
I believe it's not too late to right a listing ship that may be in that state because we took our eye off the prize, which is the thoughtful education of the greatest treasure we will ever have - Our Children.
Why I’m Running for School Board.
I have lived, attended church, or worked in Sherburne County for most of 25 years. I have a daughter who graduated from Elk River High and another in 7th grade. I also have grandchildren in this district, so I can say with complete conviction that what is happening in our schools matters to me now more than ever.
As I investigate our educational landscape, I have concerns that parents no longer have the same voice they once did. I believe that Faith and Family values led this district into one of the most successful in the state. If we forget that, we do so at our own children’s peril. If elected, I would base every decision on a love for God and my neighbor without fear of what others thought of that. I believe running a school is like running a household: sometimes you need to say “no” or “not yet.”
I have spoken to many parents who keep voting yes on levies and projects, presuming there will be improvements in the classroom, only to find structural upgrades but with classroom regression. While some seem to be critically pursuing our county’s racial past as though it were a current reality, we cannot forget the enormous progress we’ve made from the 60s to now. Our nation has a dark past but cannot overshadow our bright future. Additionally, our national and state educational associations seem to focus more on sexual identity than scholastic ability. Schools need to stop preaching and return to teaching.
We need to elect individuals willing to look behind the curtain and unmask the unions and lobbyists directing our schools away from the foundations that created our outstanding neighborhoods. There are amazing teachers and parents who desire to work together out of love for the children that are not being heard.
I know that the best schools start with Parents feeling heard, and I will listen and act on their concerns.
My name is J. Brian Calva and I am asking for your vote this coming November 8th.
Meeting Republican Candidate for Governor, Dr. Scott Jensen
Some concerned parents from various school districts in Central Minnesota got together in Saint Michael to discuss possible changes in what teachers need to agree with to continue teaching. The rule is called: Licensing and Academic Standards (R 4615)
Two other conservative candidates and I were invited to listen in and perhaps add some insight as we are running for school board. People from Saint Michael, Osseo, Maple Grove, Cambridge, Elk River, and Zimmerman were there and teachers from several communities. The seriousness of what teachers might be forced to agree to is breathtaking, so it was good to hear what some of the changes might be and how we could join in the conversation to ensure teachers aren’t forced to teach things they don’t wish to.
Apparently, there’ll be some sort of presentation before a judge yet this summer, at which time we may or may not have new rules for teachers in the classroom. We should all be watching very closely as to what the results of that decision might be.
Partway through the meeting, gubernatorial candidate Dr. Scott Jensen arrived and shared his thoughts about how we can improve our schools and better care for our children. He used the acronym S.C.H.O.O.L.S., it stood for:
S-Safety for our children.
C-Curriculum that parents can see.
H-Health and Wellness for ALL children.
O-One size does not fit all education.
O-Own your kids. Parents have the biggest responsibility for their kids.
L-Liberate parents and encourage them to participate.
S-Sexualization of schools. Less of that and more academic emphasis.
Dr. Jensen mentioned one other thing that impacted me most: "Teachers are the allies of parents.” That resonated with me because I believe it. Teachers have one of the hardest jobs imaginable, and just because their unions don’t seem to have our children’s best interests at heart, it doesn’t mean that teachers don’t. They most certainly do. Speaking for me, I need to work with my daughter’s teachers to help in any way I can and not be an obstacle.
I have to be honest, and I told Dr. Jensen to his face that before I arrived, I didn’t anticipate the opportunity to speak to him in person and most definitely was not a supporter. He wasn’t my first choice. But after hearing him articulate ideas that would support teachers, empower parents, and elevate our children, I changed my mind.
I am a compassionate conservative. I vote based on my faith and values, not a political party. Furthermore, I raise my children to know that they are equal in the eyes of God and not victims.
I know that without those values, I would have no family and without those beliefs we will have no community.
I recognize that school decisions are often made with finances at their core, but I desire to raise the conversation to include not just increasing our revenue but the overall health of the children. This is met, not just by facilities, but also by teaching care for one another that unites and not divides.