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Re: [Mpls] Back to school night/ Rules of the world
Date:     8/29/2002 9:52:55 PM Central Daylight Time
From:     Socialist2001

In a message dated 8/29/2002 2:49:34 PM Central Daylight Time,
 Lynnell Mickelsen writes:

>  ...School critics on the Right and Left who insist that it
>  doesn't matter if parents drop the ball completely, it's still up to
>  teachers and schools to close the gap----well, that's just a bunch of
>  crap...

Persistent apologists for the MPS administration like Lynell Mickelsen
love to point their fingers at parents and to put words in the mouths of
those pesky critics.

Of course some parents drop the ball more than others. Some drop
the ball completely. There are a lot of other things going on outside
of school that adversely effect a student's performance in school.
That accounts for some of the test score gap. However, the quality
of instruction a student receives also makes a difference. The
Minneapolis Public Schools did a study that attributed over 40%
of test score variability to teacher efficacy. Similar studies in other
locales have produced similar results. Teacher efficacy is usually
measured on a scale that gives a certain amount of weight to
years of teaching experience, typically using step and lane data.

The latest gimmick, redefining and cracking down on truancy
produced big improvements in attendance in the past year.  I
heard Carol Johnson talking about it on the radio this morning.
She said that the proportion of students who show up
at least 95% of the time went up from something like 37% to
60%. The promised gains in test scores didn't materialize.
Yet Johnson continues to repeat the mantra "if you get your
kids to school 95% of the time they will learn."   

Obviously low attendance rates are not the primary problem.
It stands to reason that students who have a generally positive experience
in school are more likely to be at school at least 95% of the time, and
their parents are more likely to be involved with the school district in a positive
way than is the case with students who have a generally negative experience
in the classroom.

And as District official predicted, the OnTime high school graduation rate
declined as a direct result of the new attendance policy. The On Time
graduation already dropped a point or two last year, and it is reasonable
to expect it to drop a point or two each of the next 3 years. Way to go

I want the board and administration to focus on what can be done to
help the teachers see that all students have a generally positive
experience in the classroom.  I propose that inexperienced teachers
be desegregated and that individualized educational planning replace
the strategy of ability-grouping most children into nonacademic
curriculum tracks.

And, by the way, I am in favor of tenure rights and seniority rights
as a check on the authority of the school administration.  A teacher
with tenure has the right to appeal a decision to terminate (or not renew)
their contract at the end of a year. Most people in union jobs
have tenure rights after 90 days on the job, or sooner. They can't
be fired without just cause and due process. Teachers don't have
tenure rights until they complete 3 years of employment.  If you don't
have tenure rights, you don't have any rights that your employer has
to respect.  That's why some of the high poverty schools where the
new teachers go are run like banana republics.

I also stand with the majority of teachers in opposition to the new
merit pay system.  2/3 of the teachers have opted to stick with the
steps and lanes.

-Doug Mann, King Field, the new 8th Ward
Mann for School Board Web site: