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Doug Mann LPN, LNC

Note from William "Bill" Green, MPS Superintendent

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MPS administration's position on realignment:
Note from William "Bill" Green, MPS Superintendent

Note from Interim Superintendent Green Regarding Realignment 
There have been a number of parents and staff members who have expressed concern and even confusion around the state-mandated realignment process. Realignment of teachers by licensure is required by the Minnesota Teacher Tenure Act and the collective bargaining agreement with the teachers' union. Its purpose was to preserve seniority as the ultimate factor to consider for determining layoffs. Through realignment, Minneapolis has retained less-senior teachers by "realigning" more-senior teachers.

This was a very disruptive process when it occurred. There were a number of teachers who had multiple licenses who were moved from teaching in areas that they felt confident and passionate about into areas where they may not have had much experience or an in-depth knowledge. One of the only silver linings to this process (outside of holding onto some of our outstanding less senior teachers) was the stabilization that started to occur in schools that tend to have the greatest need.

We are known for having some of our least experienced staff in our schools facing the greatest challenges. The reason being is that we tend to lose a lot of our more experienced teachers to buildings that have less poverty, less mobility, and less academically challenging populations once they have the seniority to make that switch. This problem is one that faces many urban and large districts, not just Minneapolis. Realignment of more senior teachers helps reduce layoffs of more junior teachers from those schools facing the greatest challenges, and thus, helps to stabilize those schools.

Unfortunately, the students do not always come out on top through realignment. You could easily end up with a very vulnerable student population, like special education, receiving instruction from a teacher licensed in special education, but not comfortable enough to teach in that field. For those students and their families, the reality is that their future could be negatively impacted from that point forward in a way that we would all regret. Though there were some first class elementary teachers who were realigned into special education who have been very successful, it does not mean it will always be a good fit.

As a parent, one of my greatest desires for my son Nick was that he and his teacher would connect, and that his teacher's passion and dedication to his education would help shape and prepare him for academic success. Nothing made me happier than the years when he thrived under teachers who embraced their content area and their students like a long lost friend. However, as pleased as I was in watching him grow under the influence of such a teacher, there was the fear and anxiety that came along with the few occasions Nick had a teacher who was not the most experienced to teach the course. With that being said, I realize the concern for job security among teachers is real. I do not wish to see any of MPS' multi-licensed teachers struggling with the idea of letting go of a hard-earned license for the 07-08 school year in order to remain in an area familiar to them.

Taking all of these issues into consideration is an important task for me, my staff and the school board. If we as a district decide that realignment has more drawbacks than benefits, we would opt to enter into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with our teachers' union if they felt similarly, and we would therefore not be required by the state to realign should we be facing further layoffs for next year.

The state asks that an agreement like this be completed prior to the end of this school year in order to be applicable for next school year. For teachers who may carry licenses in areas in which they would prefer not to be realigned, that would most likely be a relief. For parents of children in our highest demand areas of licensure, that also may be a relief. For our least senior teachers, that may not be a relief. It also may not be much of a relief for the parents of students at our schools with the highest needs.

Finding the best way to honor all of our families and teachers has caused this issue to be one of deep thought and much conversation. There is added pressure for staff members who are licensed in areas
that they would prefer not to teach, yet the state has a deadline of Dec. 31 to surrender a license that you would like "taken off the books" for the following school year. Hence, there is a desire for many teachers in this predicament to see the district enter into an MOA prior to the end of the calendar year.

We are looking at all aspects of this issue, and I would like to personally thank all of the district leadership and teachers who have been doing all they can to help me understand the many layers of this issue. You have been informative, kind, patient and professional in every way.

Even though the 2007 school board members are not in an official capacity to act at this time, the eight of us are working very closely on this issue, and we will continue to be mindful of the needs of our students, families and staff.

With my sincerest regards,
William D. Green, J.D., Ph.D.
Interim Superintendent

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