Mann for School Board
Questions for another candidate seeking the GP endorsement
Subj: [Mpls] GP screening report for Kari Tauring is on the web
Date: 5/21/2004 2:31:12 AM Central Daylight Time
Kari Tauring is seeking the Green Party's endorsement of her candidacy for one of three open seats on the Minneapolis school board. Ms. Tauring's screening report is now on the web. Go to www.mngreens.org/locals/M5D and click on
I would like Kari to clarify her views on a few issues. (The questions below were sent to KT and the 5th district green party elist in a separate post.)
1. Aside from a recommitment to small, 'community schools,' what changes in policy and practices would help to close the gap, in your opinion?
2. Should the district's administration continue to encourage ability-grouping and part-time tracking (separating students into separate classrooms for reading instruction and other subjects according to perceived ability) in the
early elementary grades? In your professional opinion, is ability-grouping an effective way to 'close the gap?'
3. To what extent do differences in average levels of teacher expertise from school to school contribute to the achievement gap? Could the extremely poor performance of students in some schools be attributable to overexposure of students to inexperienced teachers, high teacher turnover, teachers teaching out-of-field or lacking neededtraining and support to address the needs of English language learners and other special needs students, and so forth?
4. You wrote "We must wean ourselves off of Federal Funding.
"There was much controversy in school boards across the state when the offer of Federal Funding with attached mandates was being debated. Many said, no, don't take it. We'll get used to the money and then they will add more laws and pretty soon, we are no longer an Independent School District.
"It is time to admit they were right. The No Child Left Behind Act is a direct attack on the Public Education system across the United States. Our Research and Assessment Manager, David Heistad, predicted that Minneapolis would fold under its weight within 8 years..." [end quote]
a) Currently the district spends roughly $30 million on special education. The provision of special education services is federally mandated. Board members have complained that the federal government directly, or indirectly through
block grants to the state, reimburses the district for less than half of that expense. What do you propose to do about mandated special education services if the federal government do not increase funding? Would you consider voting to
reduce or eliminate special education services currently mandated by the Federal Government?
b) No Child Left Behind included more title 1 funding (poverty money), but also has criteria, penalties, and remedies for poor performing schools that many, including myself regard as unrealistic and potentially very costly to comply with. However, the chief problem with No Child Left Behind, in my opinion, is that it does not identify systemic factors that have widened the gap and draw the necessary conclusions. Do you agree, or have another opinion?
c) No Child Left Behind promises school choice for parents with children in poor performing schools, at some point, but the better public schools have been given the necessary loopholes to set limits on enrollment of students fleeing
from poor performing schools. As another has said, the NCLB promise of school choice just another "white lie." Many of the students pushed out of the "poor performing" public schools have no place left to go but to financially challenged, and not necessarily better quality charter schools and private schools, with or without vouchers, tax credits, etc. That is the direction in which the Minneapolis Public School system is headed right now. What are some factors
driving the flight of students from the Minneapolis Public Schools, and what can the board do about them?
That is all for now.
Note: Kari Tauring has a web site http://www.karitauring.com/
-Doug Mann, King Field