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Minneapolis’ new district design does not improve education equitably

It hurts more than 100,000 children, displacing them from their friends and schools and splitting families between schools.

teacher's desk
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Minneapolis Public Schools’ Comprehensive District Design (CDD) does not improve education equitably for all children. It hurts more than 100,000 children, displacing them from their friends and schools and splitting families between schools.

This CDD shuts down successful programs like dual-immersion language programs, and strips enrollment from highly successful schools (like Southwest) to force those kids into schools that are not prepared for a huge influx of students (such as North), without a plan to prepare that school. Many middle-schoolers have found success in their IB schools, only to be told that they have to attend a school that doesn’t have an IB program. Families in K-8 schools would no longer enjoy having their children all in one school, supporting one strong school community.

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Moving to suburban districts

This CDD has failed to gather insight from people in the thick of things – real insight. I have worked for more than a decade in north Minneapolis, advocating for services for children there. I can tell you why families of color are fleeing Minneapolis schools: lack of services. Families tell me how they were in a suburban district, and their child was getting the math and reading help that was needed, and when they had to move to Minneapolis where the support disappeared, their child is failing.

Marion Collins
Marion Collins
This even happens at my child’s school in Kenwood — families are going back to the suburbs next year because, even in the south Minneapolis schools, needs are not met. MPS needs to go to these suburban schools, learn about the services they provide, learn about how they provide them and the cost, and incorporate that into a CDD. Input should be sought from teachers also.

Many good ideas not included

Many good ideas about a CDD have been presented, but none of these things are part of the current CDD — like increasing teachers of color and increasing AP and advanced classes. Families will leave the district if the CDD results in children having to attend schools that are not prepared to truly promote their learning and advanced education. The CDD first needs to address this before throwing students at a school. These programs should be in all schools, but there needs to be a real plan of how these would be brought into all schools and implemented, which is lacking in the current CDD. Instead of cutting enrollment and programs in successful schools, learning from these schools should be a part of the CDD.

This CDD has encouraged a lot of racism. The board has allowed racist remarks, racist publications to circulate, and has even infused their video with racism – interestingly, mainly against white families. The CDD should be bringing people together, and the focus should be on improving education for all children, not on race. We all know this would not be tolerated if the race-baiting were reversed. There needs to be a higher standard of respect toward all families, as we all have the same goal: improve education for all children. The CDD needs to reflect that. Education options for families in south Minneapolis shouldn’t suffer for north Minneapolis any more than options for north Minneapolis should suffer for south.

If the goal of the CDD is to keep families from leaving the district, the current CDD is only encouraging families to look elsewhere.

Marion Collins is the parent of four children who have, are, or will be attending Minneapolis Public Schools.

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