Worried parents, tense times complicate Minneapolis schools’ overhaul

Pam Costain, Chris Stewart
MinnPost photo by Craig Lassig
Minneapolis School Board members Pam Costain and Chris Stewart interact at a Tuesday meeting with parents concerned about proposed changes affecting the district’s public schools.

The Minneapolis Public Schools parent advisory group had just called its meeting to order last Monday night when Chris Stewart slipped into the room. Quietly, he slid into a seat at the back of the room, opposite the dais where he and the other school board members usually sit when they’re here, and next to a man with his elementary school-age daughter.

The two nodded hellos. And then the father broke into a grin. “Hot in here,” he quipped, laughing.

Stewart snorted and shot back a rueful smile. The temperature was actually quite comfortable, but the remark was dead-on. On the agenda was a preview of the district’s controversial proposal for changing the way students are assigned to schools. The parents present each represented a different MPS program, and each stood to lose something in the reorganization.

Tensions have been rising for weeks over the scale of the planned overhaul, which parents fear could uproot kids from successful schools and force them into struggling ones. Stewart, elected to the school board in 2006, has landed squarely at the center of the most headline-grabbing chapter of the entire saga.

During his visit to Burroughs Community School last month, Stewart, who is black, and Principal Tim Cadotte, who is white, got into a heated argument about race. The following Monday, Cadotte was placed on paid administrative leave pending outside investigation into the dustup. Cadotte is being reinstated to his post today, even though the district’s investigation will not be complete for several more days.

Cadotte-Stewart incident prompts meetings, rallies
In the wake of the incident, Burroughs’ tightly knit, vocal and politically connected parents have organized meetings and rallies and pelted board members and news media with angry letters demanding Cadotte’s reinstatement and calling for Stewart’s resignation. Much of the din is heard most loudly online, at websites with names like Save Tim Cadotte and Chris Stewart Resign Now.

The outcry put district administrators under tremendous pressure, particularly after seven Minneapolis DFL lawmakers wrote to School Board Chair Tom Madden demanding Cadotte’s reinstatement. Among those signing the letter are House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Patricia Torres Ray, who sits on the state Senate’s education and E-12 education finance committees.

There are several bills of crucial importance to Minneapolis under debate at the Legislature right now, including the ultimate fate of the program that pays for integration programming.

Located at 1501 W. 50th St. in the city’s southwest quadrant, Burroughs has been Minneapolis’ most-requested elementary school in recent years. In a district struggling to graduate half of its class, Burroughs students post unimpeachable test scores but face far fewer challenges than other pupils.

Just 20 percent of its students come from low-income households, far fewer than the district average of two-thirds. Three-fourths are white, as opposed to an average school enrollment of 30 percent. Just 6 percent are African-American, compared with a district-wide average of 40 percent.

Neither Cadotte nor Stewart will discuss the April 17 incident, and district administrators also decline to comment. Events leading up to the incident provide context for the encounter but also suggest that the resulting controversy threatens to overshadow a reform plan with tectonic implications for most Minneapolis families.

“One of the reasons the Burroughs situation makes me very sad is I believe we were cracking open some very important conversations about race in our city, and now we are polarized,” said school board member Pam Costain. “We are 50 years post-Brown v. Board of Education and we have a very serious problem.”

Under the proposed reorganization, four schools would close in the city’s southern quadrant. New attendance boundaries may mean that children in the north, northeast and southeast areas — who have already suffered multiple disruptions in recent years — may have to change schools again. Compounding the pain, the schools to be shuttered aren’t poor performers, as in past rounds, but simply programs that can no longer be justified in light of an expected $28 million budget shortfall.

Societal change prompt radical changes
Shrinking enrollment, plummeting funding and concerns over the racial achievement gap in recent years have pushed the Minneapolis district to make radical changes to the city’s schools. In 2007, five elementary schools were shuttered on the North Side, which had lost fully half its mostly African-American students to charter and suburban schools.

That still left the district with enough classroom space for more than 50,000 students, even though enrollment had plunged to 33,000. Because of its complicated system of school choice, many kids are bused long distances to schools far from their neighborhoods. Rising fuel prices only added to the already burdensome cost of transportation.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis schools have become overwhelmingly segregated. Class and race tend to go hand in hand in Minnesota. Schools in the city’s far southwest area draw primarily middle- and upper-class families while those on the North Side and parts of the south are crowded with impoverished ones.

Community schools tend to mirror the racial makeup of their surrounding neighborhoods. As a result, Minneapolis, like other large urban areas, created a number of magnet schools with specialized curriculums to try to tempt families from different backgrounds to send their kids to school together. Costs went up but, for the most part, achievement didn’t.

Two and a half years ago, a newly elected school board took a look at the situation and decided radical change was warranted. Drawing in part on recommendations made by consultants from McKinsey & Co., the board directed district administrators to begin making broad, structural reforms. And it asked them to keep issues of race and equity at the forefront.

Early this year, district administrators began meeting with people at different schools to explain their goals and gather feedback on possible changes. It was the first time the city’s wealthier schools had been affected by the reform process. As parents in south and southwest Minneapolis realized that their school choices would narrow, tensions began to mount.

Burroughs school focal point of bigger issues
Burroughs had long drawn Hispanic children from other parts of the city to a Native Language Literacy (NLL) program, a Cadotte creation that taught basic math and reading skills in a child’s first language, Spanish in this case, in early grades. The goal was to have children better poised for success when they moved into an English-speaking classroom in third grade.

The results were good, but according to district administrators, Burroughs did not draw enough families to fill its Spanish-only classrooms. That problem was exacerbated when rising fuel prices forced the district to shrink the NLL program’s attendance boundaries.

Hispanic enrollment peaked at 28 percent of the school’s student body but, by last year, had fallen to 17 percent. Because teachers are assigned by class, under-filled rooms like those in the NLL program became hard to justify. In the ’07-’08 school year, it had 62 students but was staffed for 78; this year, it has 39 students but is staffed for 52.

Meanwhile, the district has been under tremendous pressure to accommodate more white families from the surrounding neighborhood. A large number of Burroughs students come from the Kingfield and East Harriet neighborhoods, which don’t have a dedicated community school.

Like students from other “open areas,” these kids have been placed ahead of others requesting spots in popular programs in the school choice process. Families from the F2 district attendance area (Kingfield and East Harriet) have a number of choices, but 98 percent seek to enroll their children in the district’s three most sought-after programs: Burroughs, Lake Harriet Community School, and Barton Open.

Two years ago, the number of students seeking placement at those three schools jumped by 104; 70 of those requests were for Burroughs. For the first time, the district was unable to honor its commitment to find seats for all neighborhood and F2 children.

Currently, the number of unfilled seats in the Spanish-speaking program equal exactly the number of pupils who are making other school classrooms overcrowded, noted Jackie Turner, the district’s director of student placement. Last year, Minneapolis stopped accepting kindergarteners into Burroughs’ NLL program and announced it would close the program once current students had graduated into mainstream classrooms.

Parental meeting ignites controversy
On March 3, Burroughs parents gathered to hear a presentation on the potential changes by the district’s associate superintendent, Marianne Norris. Attendance boundaries would likely be redrawn, she told them, but because the new map would still mean the school was largely white, seats might be offered to children from other parts of the city.

One father asked why, if diversity was a goal, the school couldn’t keep its NLL program.      

Her reply, according to several accounts from people who were at the meeting, including Kip Wennerlund, co-chair of Burroughs’ policymaking group, its site council: “So what you’re saying is Hispanics are OK, but you don’t like blacks.”

Citing issues of personnel privacy in Cadotte’s case, Norris, who is Cadotte’s supervisor, declined to comment for this story. Her intent seemed to be pointing out how African-Americans could interpret their stance, but parents present say they were instantly put on the defensive. “Jaws dropped throughout the audience,” Wennerlund said. “She didn’t apologize. She didn’t back down or clarify. She didn’t do anything.”

“There was a lot of parent-to-parent communication,” said Wennerlund. “A lot of ‘Can you believe it.’ [Parents] were stunned, stunned.”

A couple of weeks later, the site council issued a statement to the board asking that the NLL program be retained to help satisfy the need for diversity. “We want to keep our Burroughs families together and the educational community we have built together intact,” the statement read. “This includes a recommitment to our Spanish-speaking families and to the highly developed bilingual resources that remain available at Burroughs. These are the foundations of our successful school and a part of our identity. …

“The way to improve is to build upon our current strengths, not to undertake dramatic changes that may be appropriate to other parts of the district,” it added. “Keeping these students and the staff who serve them is preferable to replacing these students with another group of students to address the identical issues of diversity and achievement.”

The statement, along with facts about the NLL program’s academic success, was blown up and displayed on a poster board in Burroughs’ entrance atrium, according to Wennerlund.


The controversial "Loser?" poster
Courtesy of Bill English
The controversial “Loser?” poster

Meanwhile, Kingfield and East Harriet parents were upset that even though they will end up getting a community school, they will be losing their preferential status for admission to Burroughs and other overcrowded southwest Minneapolis schools. One option raised by administrators was to assign all of the F2 families to Lyndale Community School, at 34th Street and Grand Avenue South. Currently, 64 percent of Lyndale’s students are African-American and 9 percent are white. More than half are learning English, and a whopping 92 percent are poor.

F2 parents created an online neighborhood forum, where they began discussing options. The most popular: Asking the district to strip Barton, located in the East Harriet neighborhood, of its magnet status and to make it the community school. More diverse than the area’s other schools with 35 percent minority students, Barton is extremely popular with southwest parents and with MPS employees, who enjoy preferential treatment when it comes to winning a spot.

Lyndale, the parents argued, isn’t big enough to accommodate all of the open area’s students. (In fact, Lyndale has five more classrooms than Barton, noted the district’s Turner.)

In late March, a white Kingfield father created a poster showing a photo of a white boy with the word “Loser?” stamped across his forehead and a brief statement about the neighborhood’s access to good schools being endangered below. He posted it to the neighborhood site and encouraged people to pass it on.

Another flyer was circulated, although community members aren’t sure when or by whom, warning in large type: “They want to give busing another try!” and “Don’t let them turn this into a race issue.”

Pivotal April 17 encounter
On April 17, Chris Stewart showed up at Burroughs unannounced and, according to Wennerlund, saw the blown-up site council statement. Wennerlund, one of the parents organizing the campaign in support of Cadotte, said he happened along a few minutes later, after the two men’s encounter but before district administrators ordered Cadotte not to talk about it. He says Cadotte told him that Stewart grabbed the poster, marched into the school’s outer office and insisted it was racist.

“I’m a racist?” Wennerlund said Cadotte told him he responded. “You’re a racist for making that claim.”

As the two men argued, Stewart claimed there were African-American families in Burroughs’ attendance area who were uncomfortable in the school and sent their children elsewhere, according to Wennerlund’s account.

District records show that 252 students from the neighborhoods in question attend Ramsey Fine Arts Magnet, one of the area’s most racially balanced schools with 23 percent white students, 35 percent African-American, and 37 percent Latino. To say that black families in the southwest area are clustered at Ramsey would be “a stretch,” according to Turner, who notes that there is no way for the district to track the race of children who choose a program other than their neighborhood school. However, she said, “It is true that families often choose schools that reflect their background and culture.”

The argument occurred on a Friday. After Stewart left, Wennerlund said, Cadotte’s supervisors summoned him to a meeting the following Monday at district headquarters. There, he was placed on paid administrative leave. Burroughs parents interpreted the move as discipline and demanded that Stewart be punished, too.

Online forums where district parents communicate quickly erupted.

Calls for his resignation were made by many, including some who mentioned an episode that took place in late 2006. On the eve of Stewart’s election to the board, he was fingered as the author of racial satire about Independence Party candidate Tammy Lee, who was running for the U.S. House against Keith Ellison. Stewart apologized and resisted calls to step down. Since then, he has adopted a more measured tone but has continued to be one of the board’s most blunt members.

Cadotte’s history is murkier. He is extremely popular with parents but also described as thin-skinned, hot-tempered and rigid in his exercise of control within his school. He created the NLL program and was proud of its place in the community but also enjoyed being at the helm of such a perennially popular school.

Racism issue raised
After several state lawmakers wrote to the board urging Cadotte’s swift return to his post, black community leaders stepped forward and urged that they suspend any rush to judgment.

Bill English, co-chair of the Council of Black Churches, urged Burroughs families to take a step back and consider that despite their intent,, the site council’s statement is offensive to African-Americans. “The language in there is at least offensive. and I perceive it as racist,” he said. “It says, ‘We prefer to have Hispanics than blacks.’ Any reasonable black person would perceive it as racist.”

On Friday, the school district announced that Cadotte will be back at work today, and that the retired principal who took his place while he was on leave will stay to assist him. The district investigation is expected to be completed soon.

English and other board members are also concerned that the Burroughs community’s reaction to the contemplated changes overshadow the impact of the proposals on other schools. Parents at Lake Harriet, which is 85 percent white, had already begun discussions about diversity. Its site council issued a statement calling the idea of busing in kids from other parts of the city “a win-win” and urging the board to alleviate overcrowding by ceding Barton to the open-area families.

A couple of miles west of Burroughs, Armatage currently houses both a community school and a Montessori magnet program. Families there are still mulling the news that the district is exploring making the entire school a Montessori program. No consensus has emerged either way.

One week after Cadotte was placed on suspension, district Superintendent Bill Green unveiled the administration’s recommendations. They call for closing three small elementary schools, Longfellow and Northrop in south Minneapolis and Pratt in southeast, and Folwell Middle School.  

In addition, five schools would be “demagnetized”: Cityview and Kenwood performing arts magnets and Pillsbury Math/Science/Technology magnet would remain open as community schools; Northrop and Park View Montessori would close altogether. The district’s open areas, which currently don’t have neighborhood schools, will end up with a designated community school, and some North Side students will be offered seats in southwest schools.

Controversy likely to linger
Even if the board adopts the recommendations, something that is far from certain, the controversy is unlikely to die down any time soon. Virtually all community school attendance boundaries will be redrawn over the summer, so families in open area will not know what their 2010-2011 options look like until this fall.  

For her part, Costain doesn’t think the administration has yet landed on a workable proposal. She is concerned that the needs of immigrant children are not addressed strongly enough, and disappointed that no workable solution for the southwest open-area issue has been advanced.

“There is too much pressure on Barton and Lake Harriet. Kids who live there can’t get in,” said Costain. “It is imperative in my mind that F2 have a strong option to come back to.”

She’s optimistic, however, that a strong plan can emerge. “Because this process has been so public and has upset so many people, it has made people very raw,” said Costain. “The good part of that is people have opened themselves up to examining their own assumptions.”

Even English, one of the district’s staunchest critics in the past, sees reason for hope. “This board — and this administration — has been the first to try to confront [race and equity] and that’s to their credit,” noted English. “They’ve been trying to have some bold conversations — give ’em an A for effort.”

Mikki Morrisette — the mother of a fourth-grader at Whittier, a popular, integrated International Baccalaureate magnet — is one of several parents hoping to reach out to families at other southwest schools to start a dialogue on diversity. Over the last two years, Whittier’s strong academic program has drawn a number of white families crowded out of the less-diverse programs.

She said she has been copied on emails from southwest parents in recent weeks that cite fears ranging from new students bringing discipline problems with them to falling property values. Yet Whittier’s experience has been so positive it has spurred some families with children both there and at Lake Harriet to want to broaden the conversation, said Morrisette.

“A group of us want to talk more publicly about the benefits this brings our kids,” she said. “It’s been an amazing transformation at Whittier since it became IB. [The kids] are exposed to a variety of cultures other than our own. The biggest part is we talk about how the world is a global place.”

Beth Hawkins writes about schools, criminal justice and other topics. She can be reached at bhawkins [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by pam colby on 05/04/2009 - 09:01 am.

    Thanks for this article. It is so nice to finally have a little more information!

  2. Submitted by Rick Prescott on 05/04/2009 - 11:38 am.

    This is some very valuable journalism. Thanks, Beth (and MinnPost)!

    My son will start kindergarten in the fall of 2010, and my wife and I have started to wade into the issue of school choice. It is a much deeper pool than we ever expected.

    Unfortunately for us, all of our research so far may be for naught after the district implements the anticipated changes. It’s very frustrating, but probably not as much as for those parents with children already in school who face significant disruption.

    What has shocked me most is that issues of class, race, transportation, funding and testing seem to dominate the entire selection process (as well as a blizzard of acronyms and catch phrases that I’m only now beginning to comprehend a couple of months later). Perhaps these are elements of successful education, but none of them would have been in my top ten before I started this process.

    I think I expected to go out and meet some teachers, see some facilities, and investigate the specialization options in order to find a place where my son can have the best opportunity to learn. Indeed, that’s what was recommended by a school district representative who came to a special meeting at our daycare facility.

    But the very first school comparison tool I was given (on the department’s “school choice” web site) amounts to a breakdown by race for each school followed by a summary of how many students at each location live in poverty.

    I’m still not sure why either of these things should make any difference to my son’s education, but the presentation of the information, which gives the clear sense that someone somewhere thinks these are important criteria, immediately changed (irreversibly, perhaps) how I think about the process.

    It saddened me.

    I’m trying to shake it and get back to questions of who the teachers are, how they teach, and whether we want our son to have an education with any sort of special emphasis.

    Living in a highly diverse area of south Minneapolis, my wife and I always assumed that our children would go to schools filled with similar diversity. We did not realize that such deep rancor over the issue would be force-fed into our decision-making.

  3. Submitted by Diana Burgess on 05/04/2009 - 01:31 pm.

    This is a good time to read Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech that he gave to the Justice Department during Black History month. It is critical that we have an atmosphere of tolerance in which people of all races feel free to engage in “nuanced, principled and spirited” debate about race, without being called “racist.” Here’s an excerpt from Holder’s speech:

    http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/speeches/2009/ag-speech-090218.html

    “Imagine if you will situations where people- regardless of their skin color- could confront racial issues freely and without fear. The potential of this country, that is becoming increasingly diverse, would be greatly enhanced. I fear however, that we are taking steps that, rather than advancing us as a nation are actually dividing us even further. We still speak too much of “them” and not “us”. There can, for instance, be very legitimate debate about the question of affirmative action. This debate can, and should, be nuanced, principled and spirited. But the conversation that we now engage in as a nation on this and other racial subjects is too often simplistic and left to those on the extremes who are not hesitant to use these issues to advance nothing more than their own, narrow self interest….”

  4. Submitted by jane onsrud on 05/04/2009 - 02:09 pm.

    I am an F2 Open Area parent who is part of a group that has been working with the District and the School Board to find a workable solution to our dilemma. We are not connected to any posters mentioned in your story, nor do we condone those messages. Our idea is not to strip Barton of it’s magnet status, but to move the Open Program to another building, and combine Clara Barton with the Lyndale building for a K-8 split campus for the three neighborhoods of East Harriet, Kingfield and Lyndale. By doing this, the Open Program is maintained at another building, and a sustainable, diverse community school is created. The vulnerable population of students currently attending Lyndale from other attendance areas is not displaced by the influx of F2 families, and there is enough room for the school to grow in popularity in the coming years.

    The Lyndale School currently holds about 400 students. According to the administration of the school, Lyndale held about 630 students at its peak enrollment, and was overcrowded. The combined F2/D5 (Lyndale) attendance areas comprise over 1100 K-8 students.

    Other communities in SW Mpls attend their community schools at a rate of between 60-85%. If the families in this area, who have longed for a community school for many years, support their new school at similar rates, they’ll be putting portables on the playground by 2011. In addition, if people start to choose this school, there will no longer be room for those that don’t turn in a choice card in February. Those kids who show up in August will have to be bused out of their neighborhood. That’s not an equitable solution.

  5. Submitted by Mike Cronin on 05/04/2009 - 02:53 pm.

    I am the creator of the “Loser?” flyer.

    I am dismayed and deeply saddened that this flyer has been taken out of context and has been associated with racial intent where none existed. I’d like to clear up any misconceptions about this flyer and hopefully provide further context.

    Right out of the gate, let me say in the interest of disclosure, I have a daughter who attends Burrough’s kindergarten and a son who will go to school in 2010. That being said, I created the poster in late March NOT as a Burrough’s parent, but as a resident of the F2 open attendance area (which includes Kingfield and East Harriet).

    At the time I created the poster residents of the F2 open area were being told that F2 would be closed and we would get a guaranteed community school, though there was no clear idea of what school that would be. In light of this, I felt that all F2 residents had an interest in engaging in a discussion about how we could work together to help ensure our new community school would be as strong and successful as the schools our children currently attend. To that end I saw a huge value in the openarea.ning.com website to help enable this discussion. So as an F2 resident, and as a way of contributing, I offered up this poster to help engage the entire F2 community in the discussion.

    I believe showing any child with the question “Loser?” over his or her forehead is bound to be provocative. But to be clear, I intended the child not to represent any specific gender, race or ethnicity but to represent ALL children in F2. And I was specifically calling for ALL Kingfield and East Harriet residents to get involved and get engaged and work together toward a strong community school so both our neighborhood and our children didn’t “lose”.

    For the record, the child on the photo is Argentinean. I found the photo on Flickr. The photographer is from Buenos Aires according to his profile. And to my understanding, this is a portrait of his son. (The title “Ojos Limpios – Clean eyes” and photographer “Seryo” are credited on the upper right corner of the image in accordance with the Creative Commons license.)

    Furthermore, this poster was created entirely on my own with no input from anyone on the openarea.ning.com site or anyone associated with Burrough’s or anyone else.

    Unfortunately, I fear this article promotes the false perception that this flyer is somehow associated Burrough’s. I also fear that it creates the false perception that F2 parents engaged on the openarea.ning.com site are advocating the elimination of the Barton magnet program. This is quite simply not true.

  6. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 05/04/2009 - 03:04 pm.

    I agree, this is a very thorough article. I knew almost none of the context to the controversy at Burroughs. It sounds like a clash of legitimate points of view. Sadly, if our schools were just fully funded, much of this would go away. All sides are basically scrapping over too few resources.

  7. Submitted by Mike Cronin on 05/04/2009 - 03:07 pm.

    I just noticed that the image of the flyer in this article has been cropped to eliminate the photographer credit that I mentioned in my previous post. The original file contains this credit. I don’t understand why this credit has been eliminated.

  8. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/04/2009 - 04:10 pm.

    These kinds of messy contretemps are the inevitable result of a worldview that teaches “diversity” is something can be artificially cultivated and is measured, first and foremost, by the color of a person’s skin.

    How often, for instance, have we read detailed accountings on lefty blogs and “news sources” of the numbers of racial minorities present at gatherings being presented as proof of some group’s embrace of diversity, or lack thereof?

    It seems no discussion among liberals is complete until all have agreed that at least one person of every available race has been heard from, or been spoken for.

    Folks, I’m sorry, but that is inherent racism; measure us by our decisions and our actions, not by those things over which none of us has any control.

    Today’s “liberals” are so busy trying to convince themselves that their agenda is not shot through with passive/aggressive racism that they have become completely inured to the ugly picture they all too often present to the rest of the country.

  9. Submitted by Corey Anderson on 05/04/2009 - 04:18 pm.

    The image was cropped to comply with the maximum height requirement allowed for images loaded into our content management system. At its current size, the credit would probably be about 3 pixels in height. It reads: Image “Ojos Limpios – clean eyes” by Seryo Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/)

  10. Submitted by jane onsrud on 05/04/2009 - 06:38 pm.

    To clarify my earlier post here: the group of Open Area parents with which I am affiliated has created a proposal which we believe meets MPS and community goals, and has presented it to MPS. I didn’t mean to imply that we are a part of the MPS staff or Board process, just that we are trying to give them input towards a solution.

  11. Submitted by Seth Thompson on 05/04/2009 - 09:53 pm.

    Jane,

    I believe your comments are misleading at best. It is true that Mike Cronin created this loser poster on his own, but when he presented it to openarea.ning.com, it was supported and embraced as the original intent (what Mike talks about above.) In fact, the original blog post is still there and Mike says he posted multiple formats by request, including a black and white only version. Now, the openarea.ning.com group supporters have decided to forget about this, conveniently, and point the finger at someone else… and now it appears they have closed the doors even further by password protecting the posts now.

    Please own up to this mess and save the face of all Southwest Mpls parents. — Thank you Mike Cronin for coming out explaining your side. This will go a long way.

    The F2 blog group, openarea.ning.com, does appear to be deeply rooted in trying to dismantle one of Minneapolis’ most successful and requested schools. This school being Barton Open. And, in fact, many children in your neighborhood attend this school.

    What disturbs me the most is that many of the people on openarea.ning.com appear that they will accept no other solution than to put Barton Open at risk. I believe the district has spoke consistently that they are not in favor of this option and it is reflected in their current recommended plan to the board.

    I hope that your group can eventually get out of this rut and find something that will work for all the children in your neighborhood while staying within the district’s guidelines.

  12. Submitted by Daniel Carlsen on 05/04/2009 - 10:23 pm.

    So Cadotte’s “history is murkier” than Chris Stewart’s? If that’s not the most outrageous comment I’ve seen during this whole mess I don’t know what is. Let’s see, Tim Cadotte has done nothing but bring Burroughs from a school no one wanted their children to go to one of the top schools in the district. Spend 5 minutes googling Chris Stewart and you will find out what sort of man he is.

    Let’s look at your slam on Tim Cadotte:
    “Cadotte’s history is murkier. He is extremely popular with parents but also described as thin-skinned, hot-tempered and rigid in his exercise of control within his school. He created the NLL program and was proud of its place in the community but also enjoyed being at the helm of such a perennially popular school.”

    So, “thin-skinned, hot-tempered and rigid” – that must be why so many teachers remain at Burroughs year after year. Is Tim perfect, of course not, but if he’s popular with parents, teachers and students (which are all true) who is it that really has a problem with him?

    I see we’re also suppose see him in a less than flattering light because he’s “proud of its place in the community but also enjoyed being at the helm of such a perennially popular school.” Sorry, I just don’t get your point Beth. We should be happier if he wasn’t proud of Burrough’s accomplishments and didn’t like being at the helm?

    Your attempt to “level the playing field” by bringing the reputation of Tim Cadotte down to the level of Chris Stewart just doesn’t fly. Next time write about facts instead of injecting your own opinions into a “news” story.

  13. Submitted by Joe Musich on 05/04/2009 - 10:53 pm.

    The fighting is over limited resources. I belive I read a recent comment by significant elder who said something about closing a few schools here and there was enough and maybe it being time for the board and administration to take a look at what they are doing. The board and administration are the fund raisers. Their inability to strongly advocate for new dollars is a shortfall. To push that decision back onto the public, the professional staff and parents is indefensible. I read commentary from board members and superintendent’s in our papers regularily while seeing nothing from the Minneapolis leaders. I’m told Bloomington is making money by eliminating outsourcing transportation and bringing it back into their budget but using a state write off to cover the loss. What about buscards for all high school students ? How can parents be asked to back one plan or another when the boundaries are not even completed ? To me that’s like putting the cart before the well you know the rest. This is another five year plan that will get two years before the next five year plan that will get two years and so on and so forth. How much was McKinsey & Co paid ? It seems the top made some decisions before the botttom was asked for input and tie that in with the lack of rersouces and mix that in with the need for diversity and the explosive mix is there. I’d recommend starting from scratch with a Minneapolis lead forum with all the parties at the table with a long time line for taking input before any implementation begin. A decision now would not be productive.

  14. Submitted by David Weingartner on 05/05/2009 - 07:57 am.

    The Lyndale / Barton K-8 that is being advocated meets all of the objectives set forth by the Minneapolis School Board; Reduced busing, improved building utilization, increased diversity, long term sustainability, and equity. The proposal is a unique way to integrate Lyndale and Barton into a K-8 by encompassing a minimum of 3 neighborhoods and offering families a welcoming school that will accept all that show up at their door. The school will be the center of a vibrant neighborhood with a diverse community under one roof. Strangers become neighbors. A democratic institution that we all can embrace. This is our vision.

    Barton has stated it’s vision of providing excellent open education, increasing diversity, and maintaining their present location. Can Barton meet all three objectives in a white neighborhood with a strong demand for a community school? Barton has the exact same number of free and reduced lunch students as Burroughs. We are asking Barton Open to relocate to a more diverse neighborhood where there is not a stong demand for a community school. Teachers, principals, students and programs would remain intact. A relocation will be distruptive, but will allow Barton to meet its long term goals.

    We will stop when we have an equitable solution for all students.

    The district vision: grandfathering, choice cards, lotteries, preference, and privilege.

  15. Submitted by Steve Kotvis on 05/05/2009 - 08:00 am.

    Joe asks in comment #14 how much McKinsey & Co was paid. It is my understanding that the work, valued around $2 million was provided to our district at no charge. The work was performed with the encouragement of The Itasca Project, a long-lived group of local business leaders who recognized the need for an outside professional strategic planning counsel.

    The strategic planning process and this latest phase “Changing School Options” has been taking place for many many months. It has and will continue to include opportunities for public discussion and input. The most recent events include:

    May 13, 6:30p – Roosevelt High School
    May 14, 6:30p – Southwest High School
    May 21, 6:30p – Sheridan Global Arts & Communications School.

    For more information on the public process, you may wish to visit the district web site http://www.mpls.k12.mn.us/

  16. Submitted by Mark Kedrowski on 05/08/2009 - 08:21 pm.

    So an award-winning, well-liked principal is described as having a “murkier” history, than an admitted Internet “satirist?” Mr. Stewart’s 2006 activity is severely downplayed in this article. He created a website that looked exactly like Tammy Lee’s and made her seem like a white-supremecist, while also making other politicians look like racists. Mr. Stewart did all of this under an alias as well. While Mr. Cadotte is supposedly hot-tempered and controlling, which describes a majority of the principals that I have enncountered.
    I have never met either of these men, but I look forward to voting out Mr. Stewart in the next election.
    We need solutions discussed, not racism charges hurled. I am glad to see income level disscussed. More than race, income disparity needs to be addressed in the schools. I sure don’t have a plan. But one of the reasons that we have these emotionally charged incidents is because there are no easy answers.

  17. Submitted by William Wallace on 05/08/2009 - 08:59 pm.

    “The image was cropped to comply with the maximum height requirement allowed for images loaded into our content management system.”

    As a person who knows about cropping and resizing, B as in B, S as in S. Even if your software has a height restriction (doubtful), you could have just as easily resampled the image to your maximum height, which would have resulted in a slightly narrower image.

  18. Submitted by William Wallace on 05/08/2009 - 09:00 pm.

    The behavior of the Minneapolis school district is one of the biggest reasons why we have “white flight” and exurbs. You need to get outside of the bus line if you want good schools.

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