Washburn High: In serving all, does it sacrifice some?

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 14, 2012 - 10:14 PM

The once-proud school is rebounding, but some parents question the decision to put all ability groups in the same classrooms.

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liberaleliteMar. 14, 1210:35 PM

A high school with no advanced classes? Sounds like a bad idea. The beauty of a large school is that you can have different classes at different levels of rigor. Take advantage of that, MPS.

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swmnguyMar. 14, 1210:43 PM

This is very interesting to me. I've got an 8th grader who is going to high school in the Fall. He chose South Open as his first choice, and Washburn (which is our neighborhood school) as his second choice. He'll do just fine no matter where he goes. My only concern is that I don't think he's been truly challenged yet. I'd like him to have to break a sweat before he gets to college. Washburn was a lot more welcoming and attentive than South. South gave off a feeling that they were in such demand, they didn't really care if you came there or not. Washburn's teachers were clearly very excited about what they were doing. They had an inferiority complex about Southwest, but we don't want our son going to school in that kind of social environment anyway. He might get in to South, but he's guaranteed a spot at Washburn. I hope Mr. DeVaughn is correct in the long run.

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newhopeguyMar. 14, 1211:10 PM

If you don't want to participate in a social experiment in the schools, move to Wayzata.

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jo1glexMar. 14, 1211:28 PM

"If you don't want to participate in a social experiment in the schools, move to Wayzata."

Ha! I went to a $30,000/yr. high school out East, with very similar demographics to Wayzata, or maybe Blake. I have never to this day, 30 years later, seen more drugs, violence, or casual sex. My kids going to inner city middle and high schools in Minneapolis, have never seen anything like what the rich kids were doing 30 years ago. Bret Easton Ellis' novels weren't fictional in that regard.

Seriously, if you consider societal values to be important, you'd be a lot better off at Washburn than Wayzata. The vast majority of Americans who don't live in elite communities really have no idea what is going on in those fabulous houses.

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idrivefastMar. 14, 1211:54 PM

I know what this parent is complaining about. I went to middle school next door to Washburn at Ramsey IFAC, a K-8. In eight grade I tested out of the math classes offered at Ramsey, and went across the football field to Washburn for algebra every day. It was comical. You simply cannot group everyone (special ed to college prep) in one class and teach to the middle. It does not work.

I feel for parents currently in MPLS. As a kid growing up in the city (Ericsson, Longfellow IFAC, Ramsey IFAC, Southwest), I loved what MPLS had to offer in its schools. Now, it seems that the schools are crumbling, and teachers and administrators are only concerned with passing standardized tests and nothing else. Students on both sides of the bell curve are ignored and suffer as a consequence.

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bwikMar. 15, 1212:19 AM

What's wrong with the way the rest of the world does it -- only let the kids who are well prepared (and can show it on a test) into the serious high schools. It is important to be fair to everybody. It is also important to actually function as a "school,' not just a "fairness building" or a "social harmony building." The original idea is that MN kids should meet or beat Beijing or Tokyo achievement levels, particularly at top schools. If not then staff should be fired and budget redirected to admins (maybe from CHina) who do have the skills to accomplish that. The fairness stuff is good too, and should come after, and secondarily.

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ludochkaMar. 15, 1212:25 AM

WOW, I actually used to work for Washburn as a teacher a few years ago. From a teacher's standpoint, every class's academic level varied greatly and at times it was quite difficult to find a doable and yet, challenging activity for all students. I even had to assign different homework problems some of the time to challenge the more advance students. During my 1st year at Washburn I was assigned to teach the advanced level of a class. I loved it not because it was an advanced class full of 9th graders, but that many students were on a similar level. The following year I was assigned to teach regular level classes and advance ones were no longer an option - much harder for me to plan and I could tell some students had to clue as to what was going on and others could go double the speed. So my point is that I've had several cases where students were placed improperly into particular classes and were unable to switch out of them because there were no easier/harder classes being offered. I used to tutor a 5th grader from Wayzata School District who was doing same problems as my HS students at the time. Now as a High Schooler, she's several grade-levels ahead of her grade, would Washburn be able to accommodate someone like that?

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pdxtranMar. 15, 1212:26 AM

idrivefast: The administrators are certainly concerned mostly with passing standardized tests, but the teachers are largely frustrated with the pressure put on them to teach to the test.

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jaynedrakeMar. 15, 12 1:50 AM

The once proud schools that are Washburn and Roosevelt on the south side of Minneapolis have the same problems because of school board and superintendent decisions over the last thirty years. Same for North and Edison in north Minneapolis. This is what happened: 1. Filling South and Southwest with high level classes, and not allowing behavior problems in those high level classes. 2. Not filling Edison, North, Roosevelt and Washburn with high level classes and allowing huge behavior issues to occur(that guaranteed that many students would transfer from those schools. 3. Allowing students in the North, Edison, Roosevelt and Washburn areas to transfer to those schools that have IB and AP and a high end liberal arts curriculum-Henry, South and Southwest. 4. Then, take away part of Washburn, Roosevelt Edison and North's attendance districts. Voila. You have crushed Washburn, Roosevelt, Edison and North. And, I will add that South, Southwest and Henry are heavily segregated within the schools. And the school board and current superintendent are still doing the same thing, and they ought to be ashamed of themselves. How do I know what I have said? Because I have lived in Minneapolis all my life, attended City schools and taught in Minneapolis under contract and as a substitute for 40 years. Marshall Garneau Jr.

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kinnickMar. 15, 12 6:34 AM

Most people are well aware what happened to Washburn,Rosevelt,South & North high school. why do we find it so hard to just tell the truth what happened to these once proud schools over the past 40 years.Until we do really nothing is solved!Stop dancing around it in the name of political correctness!

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