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Doug Mann for School Board in 2008

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Mann for School Board (last updated in 2005)

News & commentary re: 2006 Minneapolis School Board election

Doug Mann #1 with U of MN students in 2008 general election

The school quality gap

"Education is a right, not a privilege"
Say "No" to more business as usual. On Nov. 4, 2008
Vote Doug Mann
for Minneapolis School Board

Essential reforms:
Low teacher turnover rates in all schools
No more revolving door for new teachers!
Eliminate watered-down curriculum tracks

Low teacher turnover rates in all schools
High teacher turnover rates, a big obstacle to effective teaching, are generally very high in Minneapolis Public Schools where students of color are over-represented. Nationwide, about two-thirds of new teachers work in schools where African American and Puerto Rican students are over-represented. About 40% of new teachers quit teaching within 3 years, 50% within 5 years.

No more revolving door for new teachers!
For decades, the district has fired all teachers on probationary status (first 3 years of employment) in the spring, even in years when no teaching positions are eliminated. These teachers are under extreme pressure to look for another job: They may be replaced with newly hired teachers; and they are eligible to collect unemployment benefits over the summer. Suburban school districts hire about two-thirds of the MPS teachers who find new jobs. In the spring of 2004 about one-third of special Ed teachers and one-fourth of tenure-track, classroom teachers in regular Ed programs were on probationary status. The revolving door for new teachers reduces payroll costs, but it demoralizes teachers and does great harm to a majority of MPS students.

Eliminate watered-down curriculum tracks

The problem: K-3 students are assigned to separate classrooms and / or groups within a classroom for reading instruction according to ability or skill level. A college-bound curriculum is reserved for the minority of high level students. And the curriculum (learning objectives) for a majority of students is watered-down.

A solution: The Education Trust recommends the Arts for Academic Achievement program as a tool to eliminate watered-down curriculum tracks. It's been tested and proven to boost achievement in the Minneapolis Public Schools, but it's not used to its full potential as a tool to eliminate watered-down curriculum.

Prepared and paid for by Doug Mann for School Board committee
PO Box 8514 - Minneapolis, MN 55108-0514

No Child Left Behind

Federal Education bills passed since 2001 are know as No Child Left Behind. What makes NCLB different from previous education bills is a strategy to shut down district operated schools and replace them with charter schools. Already, a majority of K-12 students who reside on the North Side of Minneapolis do not attend district-operated schools.

The District's Strategic Plan

The district has a Strategic Plan which calls for getting 80% of third grade students reading at grade level by 2013, but there is no plan to phase out the watered-down curriculum tracks. The 2002 district improvement plan called for getting teacher turnover rates down to low levels in all schools. The strategic plan does not address the issue of teacher turnover at all.

We are told that the plan is to increase enrollment on the North Side, but 5 schools on the North Side were shut down last year, there wasn't enough space for all the students who tried to enroll in district-run schools. 250 were put on waiting lists. The plan is to sell all the vacated schools. There is no plan to accommodate significantly increased enrollment. And the district shut down North Star Elementary school (a model school that few whites attended) and refused to preserve the program and keep the teachers together.

Low teacher turnover rates in all schools

High teacher turnover rates are an obstacle to effective teaching. Schools with high teacher turnover rates have low test scores. And we have seen test scores go way up after teacher turnover rates went from high to low.

North Star and Hall elementary schools were among the district's worst performing schools. Teachers were persuaded to stay together in order to turnaround those schools, the district promised to support their efforts. At Hall, the percentage of 3rd grade students reading at grade level went from 4% to 40% between 1999 and 2003. North Star boasted test scores better than the district average.

In 2005, the district had 23 'racially identifiable' schools, in which the proportion of students of color in grade levels served is more that 20% above the district average. With the exception of Hall and North Star, all of these schools were on the state Department of Education's short list of Minnesota's worst performing schools. None of the district's other schools made that list.

The district has had a revolving door for low-seniority teachers, who are heavily concentrated in 'racially identifiable schools. This saves the district a lot of money on teacher payroll costs, and harms the students. For decades the district has sent layoff notices every spring to all teachers on probationary status (their first 3 years of employment), even when not planning to cut any teaching positions. The excessive layoff notices have always had a disparate impact on students of color.

Nationwide, about two-thirds of public school teachers with less than 3 years of experience are teaching in schools where African American and Latino students are over-represented. About 40% of new teachers leave the profession within 3 years, about 50% within 5 years.

Doug Mann for School Board 2006