Fargo won’t aid teacher’s ride to close achievement gap

Fargo North High School won’t give a break to a teacher who’s planning on pedaling across the United States to raise money for a good cause.

Paul Shol, a 29-year-old Fergus Falls, Minn., native, is planning an Oregon-to-Maine trip to raise money for Legacy Children’s Foundation, a Fargo organization that focuses on closing the achievement gap for low-income students. It was started by a middle-school teacher in the city.

That seems like something a school district could get behind, but Shol says his isn’t, according to the Fargo Forum.

Shol said he told his administration there was a good chance he’ll be back within the first three to four days of school starting. He asked for a two-week security buffer that would require a leave of absence, but he said he was denied.

“So I was disappointed,” said Shol, 29 years old. “I guess they have their reasons and opinions, but I disagree. I think they should accept that request.”

Shol said he put in his request to the North principal, the human resources office and the district office.

“They all said no,” he said. “They have their reasons, I just don’t agree with them. I’m over it now. I do feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

His goal was to raise $25,000 for the organization; he’s well over that already.

He has a secondary mission for his ride: He plans to speak about his religion at stops on his trip.

“I really feel called to do this trip,” he told Fargo Monthly Magazine. “This is a God call. He’s giving me an opportunity to make a big difference. He’s given me the ability to do it, the time to do it, the passion to do it.”

  • Jessica Ryan

    It’s hard to take a stance on this as we don’t have access to the HR policies of the school district. Was his request reasonable? Did it align with the policies of the district for LoAs?

    To be honest, in my opinion, the fact that a district middle school teacher founded such a heavily faith-based organization concerns me. I really hope that there are no violations of church/state boundaries and that the organization is not using its resources as opportunities to convert or proselytize. The fact that Mr. Shol intends to do so at each of his stops leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    All that being said, I hope he accomplishes what he sets out to achieve and I wish him the best of luck!

  • Matt Schneider

    The fact that this is a mission to proselytize is buried in the final 2 paragraphs. That seems more than disingenuous. This article should be updated to include mention of this in the headline. Perhaps “Fargo won’t aid teacher’s ride to spread faith and close achievement gap”.

  • ec99

    So you have this proselytizer, and the candidate for head of the ND DPI who maintains God created Hitler to destroy the disobedient Jews. Something in the ND water?

  • Sks_55557

    Well no, … whatever the supposed outcome in terms of generating school funds, a schoolboard can’t officially support someone who’s going to go cross country on a bicycle to talk about his religion. Certainly he’s free to do something like that on his own time and when he’s not supposed to be working, but not under the banner ND. It’s a curiosity to me that this is even questioned.

  • Jim E

    The Fargo Forum article indicates that Mr. Shol plans to start his trip in early July. Perhaps if he started a bit earlier he could’ve completed his trip with plenty of time to prepare for his classes next fall.

    I find it ironic that Shol’s cause is reducing the achievement gap when one of the contributing factors to the gap is teacher turn-over. I certainly wouldn’t want my child to have a substitute for the first two weeks of any math course.