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Re: [Mpls] City Pages Whitewashes Mpls Public Schools
Date:     8/28/2002 1:48:49 PM Central Daylight Time

In a message dated 8/28/2002 9:36:38 AM Central Daylight Time,
patrick e peterson writes:

> Um, yeah.  So Doug, let me get this right:  you use
>  the standards test to measure the quality of
>  instruction in MPS, but when (because of no fault of
>  the district's own) a school does poorly because a
>  majority of students DID NOT receive that same
>  instruction and yet took the test, it is all the
>  district's fault and they can't teach kids.
Patrick.  You are mistaken.  Growth rates in math and reading
for a particular school are based on the test scores of students
enrolled in that school during the entire period being evaluated,
such as the spring of 2000 to the spring of 2001.  

Secondly, you are putting words in my mouth.  I *never* said that
the failure of students to thrive academically is all the district's fault.

It is my view that changes in school policy can greatly reduce the
test score gap between MPS students without lowering the bar for
high achievers.  This was done across the US during the 1970s
and early 1980s, according to a breakdown of data from the
National Assessment of Educational Progress.  On NAEP exams
the difference in average reading scores between black and white
13 year olds declined by about 50% between 1971 & 1988.  This
test score gap has increased by about 75% since 1988.  [The New
Crisis (NAACP magazine), September / October 2001,
"Long Division," page 26-31.]

Progress toward closing the test score gap in reading and math,
as measured by NAEP exams, was achieved during the 1970s
and early 1980s.  This gap has steadily increased since the
late 1980s.  Why?  The shortest and simplest answer: there was
a C change in K-12 education policy during the 1980s.  The goal
of "closing the gap" was abandoned. That's why the gap has steadily
gotten wider in the Minneapolis school district.   

A couple of things the district could do to dramatically reduce the
gap: 1) Desegregate inexperienced teachers, who are currently assigned
to high-poverty schools.  Otherwise maintain the current system of bidding
for teaching positions.   2) Instead of ability-grouping most students into
not-college-bound curriculum tracks, keep the general student population
on a single college-bound track.  This is done in private college-preparatory
schools and in many public schools. About half of the school districts in
Minnesota keep nearly all of their students on a college-bound track.

For all of you K-12 education policy wonks out there, I strongly recommend
a visit to the education trust web site, where you can access a series of
"dispelling the myths" reports (pdf format): Dispelling the Myth (1999),
Dispelling the Myth Revisited (2001), etc.  The myth being dispelled is the
myth that schools with high concentrations of poor and/or black and Latino
students get poor results due to the disadvantages associated with being poor
and black.  The reality: differences in school characteristics account for
of the difference in student performance between high and low poverty /

Excerpt from Dispelling the Myth Revisited (immediately below):


Using information from the US Dept. of Education database, the
Education Trust identified 4,577 schools nationwide that met
the following criteria:

Students' reading and/or math performance was in the top third
among all schools in the state at the same grade level
(e.g., elementary);

Plus they met either one or both of the following:

The percentage of low-income students was at least 50%
and ranked in the top third of schools at that grade level [eligibility
for free and reduced price lunches is used to identify low income
students]: and/or
The percentage of African-American and Latino students in the school
was at least 50% and ranked in the top third of schools at that grade
Based on these criteria, the Education Trust identified:

3,592 high-performing, high poverty schools

2,305 high performing, high minority schools, and

1,320 high-performing, high-poverty-and-minority schools

Altogether, these schools educate approximately 2,070,000
public school students, including:

about 1,280,000 low-income students

about 564,000 African American students; and

about 660,000 Latino students.

-Doug Mann, King Field, the new 8th ward
Minneapolis School Board Candidate
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