Schools with “kick”

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To succeed, our community schools must not be bland models of industrial-era education. They must have educational “kick,” offering strong student and family services and differentiated learning in each and every one of them! I believe that a combination of strong community schools that attract back local families, combined with strategic, centrally-located magnets and perhaps one strong magnet at the far periphery of each attendance area, would be a good formula for long-term educational excellence, sustainability and cost reduction.

What I cannot support, ever, is forced assimilation, i.e., forcing people to attend schools in their own neighborhoods without offering a small amount of sensible, competitive options that can allow our district to compete in a broader city, state and country arena of expanding educational choice.

The sad truth of the matter is that our own schools are in competition with each other for resources. Marcy, Waite Park and the WMEP FAIR schools are all competing against each other for resources and students. I understand that we must streamline resources and do a much better job of helping each school we retain attract strong community buy-in and support. No school will be left behind in being impacted by upcoming school restructuring. I worry that we will inevitably encounter unintended consequences as we wrestle with massive structural changes on a short time-line. This will all be like learning to ski slalom before learning on two skis. I believe that what will increase collective intelligence will be parent engagement in as many discussions as possible.

This shift will take time, and stellar communication about the global strategy of our district changes. That is hard to pull off when you’re already channeling 76% of resources into each classroom, 10% to district buildings, 7% to transport, 3% to school building leadership and 4% to district leadership. Bear in mind that most healthy organizations function at 7% administrative capacity or higher.

As MPS parents, we must be part of these changes, even amidst the weight of the poor economy on our shoulders and the fact that all parents (whether in charters, public ed or private schools) must now over-function to insure our children a strong education!

Please, attend information sessions on the changes ahead.

To learn about the broader issues impacting our state’s education climate, I encourage readers to attend Parents Uniteds’ 7th Annual Summit on Monday, March 16th.

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