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Re: excuses to not take steps to 'close the gap.'
Mpls issues list
Subj:      Re: [Mpls] Why is "culling" so bad?
Date:     9/25/2004 10:07:26 AM Central Daylight Time

In a message dated 9/24/2004 9:23:28 PM Central Daylight Time,
Dan McGuire writes:

<< These are not bad ideas.  I don't personally think that ability grouping is as prevalent in the district as you imply...>>

How prevalent do you think it is? The district's administration has denied that ability grouping happens at all, despite evidence to the contrary.

According to parents who participated in large-group discussions organized by NAACP Lawyers early in 1998, ability-grouping was widely practiced prior to 1997, and African-American students were heavily overrepresented in the "low-ability" instructional groups and underrepresented in "high-ability" groups. Former Supt. Carol Johnson noted that students of color, and especially African American students were grossly underrepresented in gifted and talented programs. Of MPS students in grades 2-6 who took the California Achievement Test and Northwest Area Achievement Level tests in 1997, only 7-11% of African  Americans were in the top quartile of students tested nationwide, and over 50% were in the bottom fourth; compared to 38-49% of white students in the top quartile and 18-23% in the bottom quartile. There have been comparable differences between identified racial groups in first-time pass rates on the Minnesota Basic
Standards Tests, growth rates in reading and math, and attendance, suspension and dropout / pushout rates. (Source: Minneapolis public schools. Test score data cited above can be found in a booklet I first published in November 1998, The Fight Against Resegregating Minneapolis Public Schools, page 4 (also
published on-line)

<<  Your idea of creating spots across the district for new teachers is also worth pursuing. It's going to be an uphill battle this year and probably for a few years to come because of the likelihood of more cutbacks. The idea would be easier to implement in a growing district instead of a shrinking one...>>

Please explain. Why would it be easier to implement in a growing district?

If the district stops laying off far more teachers than it needs to lay off, it won't have to hire very many new teachers, if any, in areas where enrollment is rapidly shrinking (such as early elementary grades). I am not proposing to reduce the number of positions for tenured teachers and lay off any tenured teachers in order to create positions for probationary teachers. I am proposing that the number of probationary teachers in every school reflect the district average, which can change from year to year, and would generally limit opportunities for tenured teachers to bid into the better schools and force some tenured teachers to bid out of the better schools. I expect active opposition and not much support from teachers who are likely to get bumped out of the district's better schools as a result of implementing such a proposal. And I expect it's going to be a harder sell in Linden Hills (SW, ward 13) than in Willard (near North side, ward 5).

<<The people to sell on this idea are the respective contract negotiating teams for the union and the district.  A seat on the board may not even be the strongest position from which to influence such a change.  You might be just as effective honing the pitch for both initiatives right here on the Mpls Issues list or in conversation with folks at the district and union.>>

In my opinion it is the rank-and-file teachers and the people who vote for school board candidates who must be won over because the people on the negotiating teams do not and cannot act independently of the people they represent. Compared to bowing out of the race, going forward as a write-in candidate gives me access to the larger audience I want to reach. A strong showing as a write in candidate would place a lot of pressure on the district to seriously consider, and maybe adopt the reform program that I advocate. And in the unlikely
event that I get elected to the board this fall, it would be even more difficult, and more costly for the DFL, if the other school board members fail to consider, and refuse to engage the broader community in a serious discussion about adopting reforms that can restore public confidence in and support for our public school system.

-Doug Mann, King Field
write-in "Doug Mann" for school board