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MPS hiring of COO praised by the Star-Tribune
Subj:      [Mpls] School District COO & praise from the Star-tribune
Date:     12/14/2001 12:50:27 AM Central Standard Time

Comment on the Star-Tribune editorial of 13 December 2001, Minneapolis
Schools: Jennings should serve district well.

The Star-Tribune expects Dave Jennings to "help the district weather
challenging financial times" as chief operating officer.  Jennings " well
know and respected across political, business and community lines...[and]
...has worked closely with the district to establish strict performance
benchmarks and measure progress toward them."

Jenning's "unique insights about balancing business and education needs" are
also valued by the Star-Tribune.  Presumably, the school district's job is to
provide employers with workers who have just the right amount of education
and the right kind of self-image and outlook.  The schools are preparing
students to function in jobs and other roles for which their education
prepares them.  Those are the goals to which the district's new
accountability system are aligned.

And let's not forget that Jennings was also the CEO of the Minneapolis
Chamber of Commerce, which provided seed money for the "better
schools referendum" in 2000.  As COO, Jennings will no doubt use his
industrial relations, public relations and marketing expertise to help the
district administration sell its package of budget cuts to MPS employees and
the larger school community.

Jennings is evidently not being picked for his expertise as a corporate COO,
since his job experience in that area appears to be rather limited.  
Moreover, it seems that the district is already managing its finances pretty
well.  According to the Star-tribune editorial, "A national group of school
financial officials had awarded Minneapolis top honors for several years in a
row, placing the district in the top 1 per cent of well managed schools

Can money be saved on administration costs?  Absolutely not!  "The
Minneapolis district is not top heavy; it devotes 4 per cent of its budget to
administrators -- well below the 10 per cent considered reasonable under most
business models" says the Star-Tribune.

However, comparing the administrative costs of businesses, including private
schools, to the administrative costs of a public school system is like
comparing apples to oranges.  Administrative costs are generally much lower
for public schools than for businesses. According to Berliner and Biddle, "In
1990-1991 the average salary paid to central-office administrators and
professional staff in the nation amounted to only 2.2% of school district
operating budgets" [1995, Berliner, David C. & Biddle, Bruce J.; The
Manufactured Crisis, page 81 // 1992, Robinson, Glen &  Brandon, David,
Perceptions about American education: Are they based on facts? p. 17].

No confidence should be placed in the current board to resolve the
budget crisis without further weakening the public school system in
Minneapolis.  The strategy of the current board, of attempting to "preserve
excellence" for the few at the expense of the many should be rejected by the
working class in Minneapolis.

-Doug Mann

Doug Mann for School Board