COMMUNITY VOICES | Doug Mann, the Green Party’s candidate for Minneapolis School Board, citywide

     There are a total of 7 candidates for Minneapolis School Board, citywide, who will be on the ballot in the primary election, to be held on the 2nd Tuesday in August.        I am a candidate for the MInneapolis School Board because I believe that education is a right, not a privilege, and that a quality education should be available to all on an equal basis.        CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP     In my opinion, the superintendent and board of directors of the Minneapolis Public Schools are on the wrong track. The district is promoting and sponsoring charter schools, maintaining a large pool of probationary teachers who are concentrated in high poverty schools, and pushing a scripted, test-prep curriculum that is marketed as managed instruction.    I reject the idea that the chief source of inequity in the school district is bad teachers who can’t be fired because of seniority, tenure, and due process rights, and that the solution is to eliminate those job protections for teachers. On the whole, I believe that teacher job protections are beneficial to students in the district’s schools. There are states where teachers unions are illegal and teachers are employed at will and very easy to fire, and yet there is no evidence to suggest that public schools in those states are more equitably governed than in states like Minnesota where teachers are unionized, have seniority, tenure, and due process rights.    The chief sources of inequity in the district are actions by the board and administration that have disparate effects on high poverty schools and on the majority of students of color and poor whites. Keeping teacher turnover high in high poverty schools is a result of actions by the Board and administration, such as firing a large proportion of teachers before they finish their 3 year, post-hire probationary period, and by not providing teachers in high poverty schools the support necessary to make their jobs endurable.      Gaps in test scores and other outcomes along income and racial lines are both a reflection of the impact of poverty on children and their families, and of policies and practices by the district that have a disparate impact on students of color and poor whites. Continue Reading