Mann for School Board
Minneapolis Public Schools not 'measuring up'
Subj: Re: [Mpls] education reform
Date: 11/14/2002 11:16:30 PM Central Standard Time
This is how the preamble of the 1999-2001 teachers contract describes the
mission and organizational principles of the Minneapolis Public Schools:
"We exist to ensure that all students learn. We support their growth
into knowledgeable, skilled and confident citizens capable of succeeding
in their work, personal and family life into the 21st century....The strategic
direction for the Minneapolis Public Schools is our overall guide...Student
achievement is the primary focus of all we do."
According to a resolution passed by the board on June 27, 1995 and
entitled "closing the gap: Ensuring that all students can learn," the
strategic direction is toward "closing the gap."
All children can learn. All children can be educated. However, many
kids aren't learning. They don't learn because they don't receive effective
instruction. Why? The district is failing to collect, analyze and publicly
report data that shows whether and where progress is being made
toward 'closing the gap." And an enormous amount of money is spent on
initiatives that do not boost student achievement or reduce
the academic achievement gap. For example,
The district plans to spend a total of 283 million dollars for the conversion
of elementary and middle schools into K-8 neighborhood schools.
[October 8, 2002, Minneapolis school board meeting]
The district's new attendance policy has boosted attendance
without improving student achievement. (In two years the proportion of
students who attend school at least 95% of the time has
increased from 37% to 60%.) The districts spends a lot of
money to enforce this policy and loses a lot of money
because of the drop in enrollment attributable to it.
In just two years, enrollment districtwide went from about
50,000 to about 46,000. A decline in enrollment of that
magnitude cannot be attributed to a comparable decline
in the school age population. As district officials have put it,
"we are losing market share to private schools, home schoolers
and suburban public schools." And the thing that is driving
much of the district's loss of market share is customer
The district must discontinue its bogus 'Measuring Up' report cards and
begin to collect, analyze and publicly report data that shows whether
progress is being made toward 'closing the gap. That is the first, necessary
step toward seeing that all children have access to a quality, public education.