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Doug Mann LPN, LNC

MPS student enrollment down by 2,500 last year

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Another big enrollment drop in, & "black flight" from district schools are related to racial gaps in educational inputs and outcomes. The school board is engaged in intentional racial discrimination as defined in Minnesota's Desegregation Rule. We need a new course for the board, not just new faces on the board.

Yesterday, at a school board candidates forum sponsored by the Service Employees International Union, the board's director, Joe Erickson reported that from 2004 to 2005 student enrollment dropped by 2,500, and that most of the fall in student enrollment (all but 400 out of 2,500) was due to declining birthrates. That would translate to a drop in the birthrate on the order of something like 90% from 1999 to 2000 (and perhaps the retroactive unbirth of some students born prior to 1999). 

An enrollment decline of about 100 students in Kindergarten might be due entirely to a reduced birth rate. The rest of the K-12 enrollment decline is mostly due to a net loss of Minneapolis residents with school age children, and a net loss of students residing in Minneapolis who attend suburban, charter and private schools (or are home-schooled).

While the quality of education in programs accessible to a majority of students is behind much of the drop in student enrollment, some migration of parents of school age children out of the district probably has more to do with changes in the housing market, e.g., rents and housing prices going sky high in much of the city, and the opening of parts of the suburban housing market to African Americans and other people of color.

The district has done a better job retaining white students than students of color, a better job retaining higher than lower income students, and a better job of retaining SW area students than Northside students. And there are substantial differences in the quality of education accessible to students on the basis of race, as measured by differences in teacher turnover rates and concentrations of high and low seniority teachers. Clearly, the district is far more successful holding on to students who have access to the district's higher quality programs than preventing the loss students who cannot choose to be in the district's better programs.

The existence of huge differences in critical educational inputs between "racially identifiable" school programs (students of color over-represented) and school programs that are not racially identifiable is evidence of intentional racial discrimination by the board of directors, per Minnesota's Desegregation Rule. The Minnesota Desegregation Rule allows the district to have "racially identifiable" schools so long as the educational inputs in those schools is comparable to schools that are not racially identifiable.

The board of directors has failed to keep its promise that the Minneapolis Public Schools would provide accommodations to students of color comparable to what is provided a majority of white students. The board has been paying lip service to closing racial gaps in educational outcomes, but has done nothing to close racial gaps in educational inputs. In fact, over many years now, the board's policies have had the effect of widening the racial gaps in educational inputs and outcomes.

Doug Mann for school board  Minneapolis Public Schools hit the fan