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News Flash - Judy Farmer not running

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News Flash - Judy Farmer not running

According to news accounts, Judy Farmer recruited and groomed Lydia Lee and Peggy Flanagan. And I suspect that Judy Farmer played some role in the recruitment and grooming of DFL candidates this year. According to my sources, Dennis Schapiro has been busy recruiting and grooming school board candidates, including at least one announced candidate for the seats that are up for grabs this fall. And RT Rybak says he will be involved in the recruiting and promoting school board candidates.

The biggest problem with the schools, in my opinion, is that the administration has been trying to educate the majority of low-income students on-the-cheap. That is why the board sends lay off notices to a large proportion of teachers it does NOT plan to actually lay off. That is why the board has not seriously considered taking steps to desegregate inexperienced teachers and stabilize the teaching staff in all schools. That is why the large majority of students are excluded from college-bound
and "gifted and talented" programs.

Yet, I am not so sure that the costs of education are lower than they might be if the teaching staff were stabilized in all of the schools and the general student population integrated into college-bound and "gifted and talented" programs. The district's per-pupil operating budget is much higher than that of many suburban districts with a more stable teaching staff and a college-bound curriculum for the general student population.

I reject the notion that the public schools in Minneapolis are doomed to failure because they are over-burdened with students of color and white trash. We have a school system that is failing a majority of students because it is being mismanaged. We have leaders who say they are committed to closing the achievement gap but make decisions that increase differences in the quality of educational inputs between school programs. How can you expect more equal outcomes to result from decisions that make the inputs less equal?

In the Minneapolis Public Schools, a large part of the African American student population is undereducated and emotionally damaged by the tracking system, weak educational programs, and a racist corporate culture. A huge majority of African American students are identified as "low ability" learners and excluded from the district's high quality programs for college bound students. That is why in the year 2000 about 25% of African American students were testing at least 2 years below grade level and were diagnosed as having Emotional-Behavioral Disorders. 

According to my sources, a large proportion of African American students who have been enrolled in suburban schools through the "choice is yours" program have returned to the Minneapolis Public Schools. Many return soon after the head count day in October, so the suburban schools get reimbursed for a full year of services and none of that money follows these students back to the Minneapolis Public Schools.

A larger proportion of African American students who live and go to school in the suburbs have positive outcomes than those who live in Minneapolis and go to school in the suburbs, attend district-run schools, or attend charter schools. Very few students in the district's poor-performing schools have the option of attending one of the district's stronger educational programs.

However, so long as the State of Minnesota does not enforce its Desegregation Rule, which calls for equal accommodations regardless of race, the suburbs of Minneapolis will not be a safe haven for African American students. Many suburban whites see blacks fleeing from the Minneapolis Public Schools as an invading force that is ruining their school districts. The type of stratified educational system that exists in Minneapolis, with "minority students" and poor whites concentrated in the lowest strati, is being replicated in suburban districts.

It is not enough to have choices when the choices for many students have been narrowed to the worst of the district run schools, and alternatives that are not much better, or even worse. 

Minnesota's "school choice" programs are, on the whole, no better than the limited "choice" programs that were set up in the Deep South during the early to mid-1960s. Those choice programs did not lead to a significant level of racial integration, nor did they reduce differences in the quality of educational programs in predominantly white and black schools.

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