Monday, January 4, 2010

Minneapolis School Board decision is not a Segregation policy

Yesterday the Star Tribune ran an article titled "Downsizing schools, increasing segregation?" The plan, approved last year by the school board, is to close four schools and transform four magnet schools to neighborhood schools. The changes are reported to save the district more than $6M a year. I understand many of us hear million and think chump change as our Congress grows our debt to $13T. In an age where Americans have become increasingly dependent on the government it is no wonder that parents in the school district claim the changes will restrict their choices of schools. School Board member Chris Stewart is quoted in the article as saying, "Doing things like restricting access to [better schools] and closing off doors with the promise that we're going to make the ghetto better is not what parents want to hear."

Mr. Stewart, who voted for the closings, what are you talking about? I understand that tough choices were made and with Minnesota's open enrollment program, how is this decision "restricting access"? What I am hearing is that parents are concerned that "poorer" schools will be left behind and that will have disparate treatment toward minorities. Parents need to get involved. Get involved with the school, the district, and your child's own learning process. 2010 needs to be a year that we hold ourselves accountable and not push blame off on someone else. And it starts with not placing blame on the school board for making the choices they did. The article discussed that "school board members have pressured administrators to correct inequities among high schools" because the school board has reduced the number of choices for parents in the district.

First off, school board members live up to your decision and not place stipulation or attempt to spread the blame to others in the district. Secondly, what do you mean by correcting inequities? I know the article alludes to the number of advance courses offered at Southwest vs. North. Parents, school board members and administrators need to understand that basics are all that is required and if those are proving inequities between schools in the district then those inequities ought to be changed. Correcting the inequities in advance courses is not something to be considered. If student demand is there, meaning if the school is limiting the learning power of their more intelligent students then looking into the cost/benefit of adding the course is required. At the same time, parents can assist their intelligent children by doing more at home.

At the end of the day, do not hide behind limited choices or the fear of segregation to "handicap" your child. Be accountable, be involved and assist your child in their learning regardless of their surroundings. Where I live my children have one choice of public school unless I want to drive them to a nearby community or enlist them in private school. That being said, I won't allow my kids to use that as a crutch for not learning the basics that they need to be productive members of society. I hope that those in the Minneapolis school district understand that the savings realized will open up dollars to update school material and needs that will ensure their students will learn the basics. And if their child wants to learn more either drive them to another school that offers the classes your child needs or show them where the public library is. It is amazing how much one can learn from the books that line the shelves at a library.