"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.
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.
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.
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" http://dougmannlnc.com/id72.html
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!