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Re: [Mpls] Why I oppose the Separate but Equal doctrine
Date:     9/15/2002 6:34:50 PM Central Daylight Time

In a message dated 9/14/2002 5:15:24 PM Central Daylight Time, Jim Gram writes:

<< Mr. Mann I voted for you, but you seem to lack real world experience and rely too much on convenient "social theory".  Your statement that, ("I am opposed to segregating poor and / or black students in schools for high-poverty and / or high-minority neighborhoods because those schools are usually inferior to those provided to white middle class  kids.")...>>

The statement which you cite above is based on over one hundred years of real world experience in the United States of America.

<<...Does not consider such schools as South High.  Located in the heart of Southside Minneapolis' "high-poverty and / or high-minority neighborhoods", it is one of the finest schools in Minnesota.  I know rich suburbanites who send their kids there.>>

Please note: I wrote that schools for the underclass are "usually" inferior.  I did not say they are *always* inferior.  However, I don't consider South High to be one of the finest schools in Minnesota. South High has some very good programs, and some of its students get a great education, but it is part of a public school system that doesn't prepare most K-8 students for the type of programs at South High that rich suburbanites find so appealing.

<< Also, you might be aware, and if you are not you should be, that Hegna vs MPS went to the United States Supreme Court, and we over in Phillips, won the right to send our kids to local schools.>>

I may have heard of Hegna vs MPS or something like it. I think there was a similar court decision involving a student in North Carolina who couldn't get into a magnet school located 50 feet from her house. Could you send me links to web pages with information about Hegna vs MPS, especially the text of the Court decision?  

<<Busing kids doesn't help busing teachers might. Kids from "high-poverty and / or high-minority neighborhoods" probably suffer more from busing because it separates them from any chance for parent involvement in their academic lives.  Sixty percent (60%) of people living in my neighborhood do not have a car, so how is that mother to get across town to participate. Any chance of that mother's participation goes away when the bus leaves taking the child across town.>>

The Community School Plan was supposed to improve education-related outcomes and 'close the gap' by increasing parent involvement.  The "social theory" upon which the Community School Plan is based has not been verified by real world experience. The gap has continued to grow, and in the past two years enrollment has rapidly declined. The school age population isn't shrinking. The district is losing 'market share' to home schoolers, private schools and suburban public schools.

I did not like and do not want to bring back the controlled choice desegregation plan that was repealed by the Minneapolis School Board.  However, I also opposed the Community Schools Plan.  I favor a student assignment plan based on defined attendance similar to the Community School Plan.  However, the Community School Plan was not merely a bus trip reduction plan.  It was a plan to segregate the schools by race and class.

<< On ability grouping you seem to think that the only result will be, "Ability-grouping is used to place students onto nonacademic,  work-readiness curriculum tracks." This nonacademic work readiness curriculum track has usually been the result, but how about changing it to a different result? How about changing it to these children being given whatever extra needed help necessary to come even with the other kids and give all of them the opportunity to be in an academic track.>>

For the past 30 years the policy of the federal department of education has been to mend, not end, ability-grouping. How much more time should we give the practitioners of ability-grouping to make changes that will produce
a different result?  
>>Your statements that: The kids who are designated as 'high-ability' learners generally acquire a belief that they are very smart and the kids who are designated as 'low-ability' learners are stupid.   4) The designated 'low-ability' learners generally accept and internalize the idea that they are stupid and the 'high-ability' learners are smart. [This] Fails to even consider the harmful effect of not being able to compete on a daily basis with kids who are better prepared.  Such competition in an arena that is totally stacked against a child is the factor that engenders low
 self-esteem and eventually frustration and failure. Have children whit their abilities and polish their skills with other peers and teachers then let them compete...>>

What are kids competing for?  If kids are not competing for the highest ability-level group that is accessible to them, what is the object of the insane competition you are talking about? I prefer to have my own child in an environment where he doesn't have to compete with other students for the opportunity to get a good education.

It has been argued by others that slower students benefit from being placed in separate classrooms with other slow learners for at least part of the day because it gives them an opportunity to "experience  success."  It is assumed that always being around and competing with "brighter" students has an adverse effect on the slower student's
self-esteem and motivation to learn.

However, the effect of ability-grouping on the self-esteem and motivation of the "slow" student in the real world is actually very negative.  Students who are publicly identified and sorted into low ability groups get the message that they are stupid, no matter what else is verbally communicated by the teacher.

<< Mr. Mann writes as if he were unaware of the real social issues and social worlds faced by children being taught by those who are from and buy into values and attitudes of "Middle-class America".  Look at the gifted poor White, Native, and Black kids when they start school in first grade.  Look at the attrition rate and how soon before the teachers and fellow students have put them into their "place", (on the outside looking in).  Do you think they are any less "gifted" or "talented" eight or nine years later after being pounded with reality? They are the same gifted children; they have simply drifted off to those areas where they are treated with respect, which all to often is in those nonacademic tracks. This is exacerbated when going to schools in better "middle-class" neighborhoods. Native children have been the ones most damaged by this "Bussing" and social isolation.>>

Mr. Graham, do you think that putting most of the poor whites, blacks and Native / Indian students in low-ability learners groups at those schools in the better "middle-class" neighborhoods might have something to do with the peer pressure, racial stereotyping,and social isolation that the high achievers among them face?

I have looked at 1990s test score results broken down by race and grade level. The proportion of black students who scored in the highest of 4 categories that the state uses in its classification scheme did not significantly decline. It was consistently at or near 10% in grades 2-6. Evidently the high achieving black students in those grade levels were able to resist the negative effects of peer pressure pretty well.     

<< This was the reason for Sheila Hegna taking the case against Minneapolis Public Schools all the way to the Supreme Court.  Fortunately she won, and perhaps more parents need to start using this prevailing law against the
 Minneapolis School system. Apparently, the School System is aware of the law, when a child was threatened with being sent to Roosevelt High  I invoked just the threat of it and my child was allowed to go to South High.>>

Does the decision in Hegna vs MPS make it illegal to force a student who lives across the street from Roosevelt to attend Roosevelt?   

<< I still intend to vote for Mann in the general election, because I do not think Minneapolis has a good school system.  BUT, Mr. Mann please get a grip on the real problems faced by poor children. I wonder how many "Gifted middle and upper class white children would succeed if they were faced with a school system and teachers who were not from their own social world. I like to bet, so I will bet not too many.>>

In my opinion, the social background of the teachers is a secondary issue.  Teachers in Minneapolis generally do not allow poor and nonwhite children to succeed because the teachers are part of a stratified educational system, and the system is set up so that the middle and upper class white students have privileged access to the district's college bound curriculum tracks and the better schools.

-Doug Mann
Mann for School Board Committee