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Candidates Gather for At-Large Des Moines School Board Forum

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The three candidates running in the At-Large Des Moines School Board election and who will be on the on the Tuesday, September 12th ballot gathered for a forum on Tuesday night.

The candidates discussed a wide variety of issues ranging from climate change to closing the achievement gap to ELL funding.

One of the topics discussed by the candidates was teacher diversity. The candidates were asked by the panel what steps they would be willing to take as a board member to retain teaching staff that reflects the diversity of the community.

"I think that across the state we have other communities that are becoming more diverse, places like Clinton, places like Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and I think going to those places and finding people who are natives of Iowa, who already know our winters, and asking them, recruiting them to come Des Moines," said Kyrstin Delagardelle Shelley.

"We have to continue to recruit from outside of the state," said Rob Barron, a current school board member. "The teacher pool that comes out of our colleges...is more than 90% Caucasian, and it is a board commitment to see how the board should become more diverse, so we're swimming in rough waters."

"The pool of kids who go to college in Iowa tend to have grown up in Iowa and are overwhelmingly white," said Louisa Dykstra. "I do like the programs that they've both mentioned to try and find people from within...I think the district has done a good job of trying to make that an emphasis for recruiting administrators possibly from out of state."

It's an issue that's important to LULAC, one of the co-sponsors of the forum.

"When we look at Des Moines schools, 33,000 kids, 27% are from minority families," said Joe Enriquez Henry, LULAC National Vice President for the Midwest Region. "But, when we look at the teachers who work for Des Moines schools, less than 6% of the teachers represent the minority community, so it's disproportionate and that's very unfair when the minority kids are looking to mentors, we don't have the type of teachers who they can look up to."

For more about each candidate, click on the following links.

Louisa Dykstra

Kyrstin Shelley

Rob Barron