You may have seen a statement and proposal recently from state Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, suggesting that the Legislature split the Minneapolis School District into six smaller ones. We welcome discussion and participation from public officials who are interested in supporting positive outcomes for students. And we share the belief that the district must become more flexible and responsive by giving more control over decisions and dollars to the schools and communities. Fortunately, we’re already working toward that end as we implement Acceleration 2020 — creating less administration instead of multiplying it, as the Senate bill would do.
Yes, the district must become more flexible and responsive, but consider these realities:
1) Decentralization: We are making each school a miniature school district by giving more control over decisions and dollars to the schools and communities. We understand that schools are the unit of change in the lives of our students and families.
2) Community partnerships: These special schools have additional autonomy and responsibility to their local areas to chart their own destinies.
3) The evidence of real change is starting to come in: We have seen recent successes in our graduation rates. All of our high schools experienced growth, with three schools having particularly significant gains (Washburn up 15 percent, Roosevelt up 9 percent and Henry increasing 8 percent).
We have some of the highest-performing schools in the state, featured in U.S. News & World Report. We all can be proud of the breadth of programs that we offer our students: magnet schools; multiple world language programs; advanced learner options such as AP and IB programs, and successful early-learner programs with demonstrated success, such as our High Five program that has made a significant difference in pre-K readiness, particularly for students of color. As an example, 84 percent of American Indian students who participate in High Five are kindergarten-ready, compared with 38 percent who don’t access the program.
4) There is a robust and expanding turnaround strategy already underway: Already we are improving the lives of our students as we improve their level of achievement. As we move forward, the positive outcomes of our new approaches will be increasingly evident to everyone in our community. We look forward to the opportunity to continue to share evidence of progress and success from the outstanding students that we serve each and every day.
Michael Goar is interim superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools.