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Doug Mann LPN, LNC

Burn baby, burn (Minneapolis Public Schools)

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Burn baby, burn (Minneapolis Public Schools) 

"We have academic apartheid. Schools educating white kids have the resources to do just that -- educate them. Places where the other kids go are out of luck..."
-Dwight Hobbes, "Burn baby, burn" 28 Feb 2007, Pulse of the Twin Cities

Only a very small minority of African American students get the 'world class education' that the Minneapolis School district provides to a majority of white students.

Just a couple of years ago the Minneapolis school district had 23 "racially identifiable schools" that very few whites attend. Twenty-one of those schools were on a short list of the state's poorest performing schools. Minneapolis had the lion's share. Of the district's other 40-plus regular schools, none got the state's worst rating.

The district also has 31 alternative schools, including 19 contract alternative schools where the district transfers its problem students (mostly middle school and high school students). Students of color are greatly over-represented in the district's alternative school system.

On average, the district's racially identifiable schools have a very high concentration of low seniority teachers and an insanely high teacher turnover rate. As Steve Brandt, the Star-Tribune's education beat reporter informed us some time ago, the MPS research department did a study of how various factors correlated with standardized test scores.  There was a strong and consistent correlation between teacher turnover and student test scores: The higher the turnover, the lower the test scores.

In the "Education" thread (Minneapolis issues list), Tim Salo wrote

"Correlation does not imply causation.

"Why is it not more likely that the lower the test scores, the higher the turnover?

"Is it not conceivable, even likely, that teachers simply don't like teaching in environments where parents don't value education, don't insist that their children attend class, and don't expect that their children do their homework? [...]"

The district set about to create a couple of model minority schools in the late 1990s, Hall and North Star elementary schools. One of the things that set these model minority schools apart from the other 'racially identifiable schools' was a stable teaching staff.  See: "Model Minority Schools"

The district also went to great lengths, and expense, to keep the teaching team together at Burroughs elementary school between the time it was shut down and reopened in a new building. Burroughs is a "community school" in SW Minneapolis that serves a middle to upper class neighborhood that is almost 100% white.

When student enrollment in the Minneapolis Public Schools was rising in the 1990s, the school board sent layoff notices to its probationary teachers (first three years of employment), and many found jobs in suburban school districts. In the spring of 2004 about one-fourth of the tenure track teachers in regular education programs and about one-third of special Ed teachers were on probation. That is a mighty high proportion of probationary teachers, especially considering the fact that the district had cut nearly 20% of the teacher positions in its regular education programs during the previous three years.

When the school board moved forward with a class size reduction programs in the early 1990s, the board brushed aside a concern of members of the Minneapolis NAACP branch education advocacy committee that the class size reduction program would lead a higher concentration of inexperienced teachers and higher teacher turnover rates in most schools where students of color were over-represented. The board was not willing to seriously consider setting limits on the concentration of newly hired teachers in existing schools. The implementation of the class size reduction program was accompanied by a widening racial learning gap.

On June 27,1995 the Minneapolis School Board passed a resolution entitled "Eliminating the gap: Ensuring that all children can learn." The plan was to designate a majority of its schools as "community schools" with guaranteed enrollment for students living within their attendance boundaries. A majority of schools became much less racially integrated. On the North Side, schools were initially over-enrolled, class sizes were well above the district average. And measurable differences between mostly white and nonwhite schools in other critical educational inputs, such as teacher turnover rates, increased.

As Evelyn Eubanks noted, "History teaches us that privileged classes never give up their privileges without a fight."

Demand a quality education for all on an equal basis!
Expect massive resistance.

Re: Minneapolis public schools, board candidates, & the 2006 election