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DFL convention & gap-closing proposals
Subj:  [Mpls] DFL Convention & gap-closing proposals
Date: 5/16/2004 9:28:49 AM Central Daylight Time

The Central Labor Union Council and the unions representing district employees endorsed Peggy Flanagan, Lydia Lee, and Denny Schapiro, according to a CLUC flyer. Progressive Minnesota endorsed Peggy Flanagan and Lydia Lee.

I handed out about 150 flyers -- In 2004, Vote Mann for School Board -- outside of the Minneapolis DFL convention, mostly to delegates.  I spoke with several delegates and at least two persons who were not attending the convention.A link to the text of the flyer that I handed out at the DFL city convention can be found near the top of the home page of my web site

In my opinion, promises by the DFL endorsed candidates to find real solutions to the education achievement gap are meaningless without a commitment to making a college-bound, "gifted and talented" education accessible to the general student population, instead of putting students into separate instructional groups and classrooms according to perceived ability and watering-down the curriculum for a majority of students.  

Two other essential gap-closing reforms:
1) The creation of teacher in training positions that would distribute inexperienced, non-tenured teachers more evenly throughout the district's schools, and

2) not allowing students to fall two and more years behind grade level, then dumping them into special education programs. Students who are failing to thrive academically should be evaluated and provided special education services if appropriate, and non-special ed assessment and educational planning for other students.  The screening protocol used by the district to determine eligibility for special education services, the pairing of a cognitive ability test and an achievement test, is (or had been) administered to nearly all students in the Apple Valley - Eagan - Rosemont district in order to assess instructional effectiveness.  The state of MN does not reimburse the district for at least some of the special education services it provides to students who have not fallen behind grade-level expectations [by two years] (or a two year disparity between assessed cognitive ability and achievement). The district's approach is penny-wise and pound foolish. The total special education budget represents only about 5% of the districts operating budget, and some of the money expended in that area is reimbursed.  I think it is better to provide more non-reimbursed services -- and not force parents to sue the district for the services their children are entitled to -- and to take steps to improve instructional effectiveness for any student who is falling behind before they become a source of revenue for the district. I also recommend that the district's administration invite interested parties, including those whistle-blowing members of a certain special education advisory committee to develop proposals for new criteria for special and regular education interventions and for changing special education reimbursement criteria at the state level that our lobbyist could take to the legislature.

-Doug Mann, King Field