IN THESE DAYS OF RACIAL STRIFE it may surprise you to learn that one influential philanthropy based in Minneapolis is paying for arguments in court to allow segregated public schools. Another foundation is leading the charge to remove language from the state's constitution that courts have used to bar segregation in schools. What's going on here? Are the Twin Cities not the 'liberal' bastion people make it out to be?
In the Fall of 2022 Minnesotans may be voting on a constitutional amendment that will fundamentally change state law around public education. How will this change public education? Surprisingly, even the authors profess not to know the answer to this question. The only thing certain about the proposed amendment is that it will empower courts and throw districts, parents and others into constant legal battles.
Ten years later there are actually fewer students in college, 'achievement gaps' are the same or worse, and its hyped $2 million VAM evaluation tool is up in flames - but the foundation is undaunted — proud of its failure
Though specifics vary, across the nation charter schools are draining the students and finances of public school districts, creating distress in many. In Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Foundation is trying this very strategy with its created entity, Minnesota Comeback, whose goal is 30,000 new charter seats in the city.
At one time Hiawatha had passable test scores, but this story, like so many education reform stories, was not what it seemed. In recent years Hiawatha's test scores have dropped steadily back down to earth, so that now they're about half of the state averages. For some reason national, and especially local media aren't interested in that now.
This is a big year for charter school aficionados in Minnesota, as 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of the the nation’s first charter school in St. Paul. The legislation that authorized charter schools, enacted a year earlier, though limited in scope, promised a thorough consideration of the experimental education model, which has since sprouted up in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
Since that time rules have been loosened, spending has multiplied many times over, and hundreds of charter schools have opened in the state. Many others have been closed. Have charters lived up to the grand boasts of supporters? Have the effects been more negative than positive? Do charters represent a threat to local, democratic control of public education? On the silver anniversary of the landmark school opening the local discourse is heating up.
“School choice " is all the rage in Minnesota these days. The kind of school choice most in vogue are charter schools, where, according to promoters, less affluent parents can experience the same kind of education “marketplace " that rich people enjoy with their private schools.
Ok — that's an argument. But just what kind of choices are there for, say, low-income parents of color in the core Twin Cities?
Questions about segregation, integration, and academic performance have been intrinsically linked in American education policy since at least 1954, when Brown v. Board held that segregated educational facilities are inherently unequal. The research leading to that decision,and the overwhelming social science consensus ever since, has suggested that segregated schools produce a host of harms for their students, and integrated schools generate a host of benefits.
“Odds-beating charter school. " Those words are like an impenetrable shield for those who operate such places. They are also the holy grail of the education reform movement, which is constantly seeking shortcuts to radically increase measures of educational achievement, which these days is pretty much defined by increased math and language test scores.