First-timer and East Sider Chue Vue led school board race

He wins first bid for St. Paul School Board seat

Patrick Larkin
news editor

Chue Vue

When Chue Vue moved to the U.S. at the age of 10, he didn’t speak a word of English.

Now, with the help of public schools, he’s not only a fluent English speaker but also an attorney and the newest member of the St. Paul School Board. He will be the only Asian-American onboard.

The 45-year-old East Sider won one of three open school board slots, taking 30.8 percent of the votes, on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The other winners were incumbents Jean O’Connell and John Brodrick. O’Connell won 29.3 percent of the vote, while Brodrick received 24.6 percent.

Vue believes he won the highest percentage of votes because his campaign “resonated with the voters,” he said.

“I think the voters appreciate my experience, and the perspective that I can bring to the board.”

Chue said he represents the diversity of St. Paul. Coming from a family that struggled with poverty and adapting to the American education system, he said such experience brings new perspective to the board.

He added that as a parent of three kids currently attending St. Paul Public Schools, he has a vested interest.

“I will want to make sure that my kids, and our kids, have the opportunity to do the best they can at school,” he said.

Vue said his chief concern going into the part-time school board position will be to address the achievement gap.

“With 76 percent students of color, 73 percent on free and reduced lunch, 31 percent Asian Americans (the largest group), and over 100 spoken languages in our school district, we certainly have a very diverse and challenging community in Saint Paul,” he wrote while campaigning.

On a more personal level, Vue, who’s lived on the East Side for a decade, has three kids in East Side schools. He said it was a difficult decision sending his high-school age daughter to Harding High School, which he said “is not a great school on paper.”

According to the St. Paul Public Schools website, Harding had the second lowest graduation rates in the district, at 75 percent. On statewide proficiency scores, the school scored 35.9 percent, versus the district’s overall score of 43.7 percent.

Nonetheless, he’s seen his daughter thrive at Harding, he said.

He attributes this to some of the good things the school has going, like its curriculum of International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement courses. Without challenging courses like those, it might be tough for his daughter to thrive, he said.

This type of programming is the kind of thing that could benefit the district if it’s widely used throughout the district, he suggested.

“If we have the right programs and the right leadership, I think it can work,” he said. “There are some successes within Harding that we can be proud of. I’m excited to get onboard to help.”

Vue also said that his daughter’s success at Harding has validated for him the idea behind parts of the “Strong Schools, Strong Communities” initiative.

“We don’t have to send our kids across town if we can just work on making our area schools better,” he said.

The board will be tasked with the decision of whether to renew the initiative, which expires in March 2014.

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.

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