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Eight proposals to 'close the gap'   |   Minneapolis Public Schools & the new anti-Civil Rights movement

Eight proposals to 'close the gap'
Eight proposals to close the gap

Below are 8 proposals to reduce average differences in test scores and other outcomes for students identified by race, ethnicity and eligibility for free or reduced priced lunches in the Minneapolis Public Schools:

1) Use testing to diagnose problems with schools and with individual students, not to pick winners and losers. We need to fix the school system, not downsize it.

2) Promote instruction for the general student population based on a college-bound curriculum and individualized educational planning, not 'ability-grouping' and watering down the curriculum for a majority of students.

3) A formal Individual Educational Planning process should be initiated with any student who is not thriving academically. The district should provide special education services whenever appropriate, and not wait until a student is performing two grade levels below minimum expectations for a 'normal' child of their age -- or a comparable disparity between paired cognitive ability and achievement tests, which have been used by other districts to assess teacher effectiveness. Current policy in this area driven by rules for reimbursement of special education services by the state of MN.

4) Teaching positions filled by non-tenured teachers (those employed by the district for less than 3 years) should be distributed evenly throughout the district's schools, assigning the less experienced teachers to schools where the level of teacher expertise is above average.  -- Addtional steps will be needed to improve superivision, training, and support of teachers (Suggestions / comments are welcome)  

5) Promote integration rather than segregation of the student population by class and race when drawing school attendance boundaries, when making decisions about where the schools should be, and any other decision that would have a significant impact of the class and racial composition of a school.

6) Repeal the school attendance policy adopted in 1999, which has been driving students out of the district, and helping to raise test scores by driving a disproportionately large number of poor-performing students out of the district's schools rather than by helping to raise their test scores.

7) Repeal the district's "pay for performance" policy, which gives teachers financial incentives for taking some professional development courses and not others, rather than giving teachers pay increases linked to years of employment and additional education and training.

8) I recommend that the board offer to amend the teachers contact to strengthen teacher tenure rights by: a) adding language which recognizes the right of non-tenured teachers to appeal any decision to terminate their employment, which may be done only for cause; b) add language that requires the administration to fully inform teachers of their appeal rights, including time limits, when given notice of a layoff or forced transfer. c) add language that invalidates any layoff or forced transfer due to the elimination of a teaching position if the decision to eliminate the position is subsequently reversed.