Eleven candidates for a seat on the Minneapolis School Board have responded to the questions below, sent to them by the Achievement Gap Committee. Candidate responses are linked below the list of questions.
Don Fraser and Grant Abbott are co-conveners of the Committee on the Achievement Gap, which was authorized by the Board of Directors of the Minnesota DFL Education Foundation in January 2007. All who are actively interested in the welfare of our children are welcome to participate without reference to partisan affiliation or preference.
Achievement Gap Committee Candidate Questionnaire
1. The Minneapolis Public Schools have struggled for some time to raise the achievement of low-income students and students of color.
a. What in your opinion are the most important factors in raising student achievement?
b. What measures should the school board take to improve student outcomes?
c. If the school board follows your suggestions, how soon would you expect to see significant results?
2. Some people are concerned that focusing on academic achievement for low-income students means that insufficient attention is being paid to the needs of average and high performing students. How do you respond to that concern?
3. It has been suggested that certain provisions of the teacher’s contract prevent the administration from staffing the schools adequately to meet the needs of students. Please comment on your opinion of the current teacher’s contract.
4. One idea to improve student outcomes is to spend more time on task. That might mean a longer school day or a longer school year. Do you favor increasing learning time for students, and if so, how would you like to see that happen?
5. Early childhood education is often offered as an important strategy for addressing the achievement gap.
a. What are your views on investing in early childhood education?
b. How can there be better alignment between pre-k programs and the K-12 system?
6. Some people suggest we need more flexible or innovative models of delivering education.
a. Do you favor or oppose charter schools?
b. What should the relationship be between the charter schools and MPS?
c. Do you favor or oppose self-governed (teacher-led) schools?
7. A group of Northside residents have formed a Northside Achievement Zone, aiming to replicate some of the outcomes experienced by the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York.
a. How should the School Board respond?
b. Is it appropriate for the School Board to make special efforts or investments in a particular portion of the city?
8. With 65% students of color, the Minneapolis Public Schools face significant challenges with regard to integration. Some people prioritize integration efforts, while others argue that that it is more important to improve the quality of schools in low income neighborhoods. What is your opinion on this? Do you favor efforts to increase integration in the city schools? If yes, what steps would you take to make that happen?
9. Improving governance of our public schools is a big topic of discussion.
a. What in your opinion are the main governance challenges for public education?
b. Are there different governance models that you believe are worth exploring
c. The Governor recommended that the Minneapolis and St. Paul school district be managed by the cities’ mayors. What is your opinion of this recommendation?
10. Your role in the school board
a. How do you define the role of a school board member?
b. How much time each week do you expect to spend on school related matters?
c. If elected, how many terms do you plan to serve?
11. Finally, what does success in the Minneapolis Public Schools look like to you?