Category: Minneapolis

Opt-Out: White, Wealthy and Willing to Dictate to Other People’s Kids

#Optoutsowhite = So true.

A study released this week confirms it: The nationwide movement to boycott annual assessments that reveal the yawning racial disparities in schools is led by wealthy whites whose largest concern is teacher evaluations.

I knew it, but I’m still gobsmacked to learn just how wealthy and just how white. Researchers at Teachers College at Columbia University surveyed more than 1,600 opt-out movement adherents in 47 states. Turns out 92 percent are white and their median family income is $125,000–more than twice the national median.

Nearly half—45 percent–are educators. Two thirds are either teachers or opt out because of the influence of a close teacher friend. No surprise, then, their highest ranked concern is the use of student outcomes in evaluating teachers.

So the people with the means to send their children to the most desirable schools, which are staffed with the most experienced teachers, are seeking to shut down the data pipeline. Which revealed the immoral racial disparities in students’ access to quality teachers.

Oh yeah—and a majority describe themselves as progressives. Continue reading

Booing, Hissing and Running Out the Clock: The Other Nasty Endorsing Convention

If You Haven’t Genuflected at the Right DFL Altars, Don’t Bother Running for School Board

I don’t know about you, but as we head into the meaty shank of this year’s political cycle I feel forced to give myself little pep talks about representative democracy. Because among the many problems with the ugly populist wave we’re riding is other people. I mean, to be mostly but not entirely facetious, it’s really hard to accept that I have exactly as much power as any of Trump’s Chick-fil-A-eating, Avalanche-driving zealots. Or their counterparts on the left.

Among the dark, late-night minor obsessions this has spawned, I’ve gotten into the habit of checking Minneapolis School Board Director Tracine Asberry’s campaign website. Every time I visit endorsements by more Democratic-Farmer-Labor party types have disappeared. We’re talking about elected officials who, three months ago, approved of Asberry’s performance in office but who now won’t break ranks to say so.

Like the other incumbent seeking re-election this year, Josh Reimnitz, Asberry attended the the party’s city-wide endorsing convention last April and agreed to abide by the DFL’s endorsement, as did newcomer Kimberly Caprini. Which is always problematic, right? If you don’t agree, you won’t be considered. And if you don’t go into the convention having genuflected at the right party altars, well good luck to you Chuckles. Continue reading

The Sudden Hopeful Turn in Minneapolis’ Superintendent Search

What if the Fix Was in But They Picked the Wrong Dark Horse?

The conspiracy du jour last week involving the Minneapolis Public Schools was this: A search committee Friday night advanced two candidates, Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius and some guy from Alaska. Ed Graff’s contract as superintendent in Anchorage was not renewed earlier this year because his board felt someone else was needed to drive aggressive academic growth.

To be sure, there were more candidates in the pool, and at least two were well-regarded and arguably qualified. A couple of days before the finalists were announced, three members of the Minneapolis School Board introduced a resolution to have three finalists put forward but were shot down.

Sounds like a setup, right? Surely Graff, as my colleague Chris Stewart immediately quipped on the internets, was the equivalent of the team that always goes up against the Harlem Globetrotters.

And there are various schools of Kremlinology that could explain why some folks, including factions of the DFL, would want to structure things so that Cassellius was the obvious candidate. The commissioner has mixed track records in Minneapolis and at the state and enough critics that her appointment fight could otherwise be as uphill as Merrick Garland’s.

And and—and this is important—the fractious and back-bitey tenor of the two failed attempts to name a superintendent over the last 18 months have resulted in so much community mistrust that precious few of the advocates who’ve tracked the process are left in the room. Continue reading

Judge: It’s not segregation when black and brown parents choose affirming schools

A couple of months ago I was running some errands with my older son, who is a junior in high school and possessed of a biting wit. I was telling him that University of Minnesota professor Myron Orfield had submitted a lengthy rebuttal to a story of mine that accused Orfield of launching a cloaked attack on school choice.

The rebuttal was vintage Orfield: Hundreds of words of circular legal arguments and phrases like “regression analysis.” It went on and on and on until your eyes rolled back in your head and you probably failed to notice that he basically mostly accused me of interviewing people he disagrees with.

Which I did. A whole pack of them, in fact.

“Oh, that’s one of the fallacies,” my boy said. “Argumentum verbosium.” Also known, apparently, as proof by intimidation.

On Monday Minnesota’s Chief Administrative Law Judge signed off on a 93-page opinion authored by one of her colleagues that shreds those proof points, one by one. Given the extent of the verbosity they had to untangle, we should take up a collection and send the jurists for a spa weekend. Continue reading

The Kids are More than Alright

When Fidel Jonapa heard his team declared the winner of a design competition late last month, he was momentarily baffled. It had to be a mistake.

The event was a weekend-long contest in which Minnesota’s adult technology entrepreneurs raced for 54 hours to bring startup concepts to life. Jonapa and his classmates were seventh- and eighth-graders at a Minneapolis middle school.

“I was like–what?” Jonapa says. “Why us?”

Teammate Aria Denisen was having a similar reaction. “They announced third place and second place as we were like, ‘Oh well, we did a good job this weekend,” she says. “And then they announced us.”

Adds Jack Sarenpa: “I thought he pulled a Steve-Harvey-at-Miss-Universe moment.”

Want to read the rest of the story? Head on over to Education Post’s cool new longform section.

Thank You for Believing in My Son

This weekend my family will find a moment amid the turkey and the pie, the football and the Minecraft, to acknowledge things we are grateful for. This year, my heart is full to bursting. My younger son, who has Asperger’s, is in a new school. For the first time he is an academic and social rockstar. He’s surrounded by teachers and other adults who see and talk about him as gifted.

All of that adult faith has made him a different kid, and me a different parent. Continue reading