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Minneapolis school board candidates & the achievement gap   |   Ability grouping students & teachers, Minnesota's "separate but equal" doctrine   |   Ability grouping & the achievement gap

Minneapolis school board candidates & the achievement gap
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
Another Option for Minneapolis School Board Voters (2004 General Election)
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004

Mpls issues list
Subj:      Re: [mpls] school board candidates
Date:     9/30/2004 5:28:07 PM Central Daylight Time
From: [Doug Mann]

None of the school board candidates who will appear on have advocated measures that would, in my opinion, effectively and efficiently close the academic achievement gap. That is why I do not support any of the candidates who will be on the ballot, and that is why I am standing for election as a write in candidate.

In my opinion, the biggest factors contributing to the racial (and class) learning gap in the Minneapolis Public Schools are:

1) A high concentration of inexperienced teachers in most "racially isolated" schools, which could be remedied by distributing probationary teacher positions evenly across the district

2) A high rate of turnover of inexperienced teachers, due in large part to excessive lay offs at the end of the school year, which frees teachers to get jobs with other districts and contributes to an extremely unstable staffing situation in racially isolated schools within Minneapolis. The district laid off 608 teachers between April 1 and June 30 and clearly had plans to rehire more than 300 teachers before school started in Sept.  

3) The district's "ability-grouping" practices. There is a correlation being academic achievement and ability group assignment. In my opinion, students designated as "low-ability" learners are held back by limited curriculum, ineffective learning strategies, and low expectations. See "Why Ability grouping widens the academic achievement gap" (easy to find on a googol search)

I believe the district can quickly phase out low-ability groupings / classes without watering down the content of high-ability classes / instructional groupings if it also takes steps to desegregate inexperienced teachers and reduce the turnover of inexperienced teachers as proposed above.

Adopting the above measures would also make the public schools an attractive option for most of the parents who have been taking their children out of the district schools. And small schools can generally be more cost effective if the general student population in grades K-8 is on the same basic academic track, one that prepares them to do anything that is offered in high school, including college preparatory courses.

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