Minneapolis school board maverick takes stand reluctantly

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 27, 2013 - 5:50 AM

Carla Bates pushes Minneapolis school board to think in fresh ways, but her candor can draw flak.

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raleighmamaDec. 26, 1311:11 PM

Lost my vote, no matter how sincere her apology.

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athe0007Dec. 27, 13 6:16 AM

Although Ms. Bates and I don't get along and often disagree, I support her comment about Southwest although it might have been better phrased. Most students at Southwest have safety nets that are not shared by the majority of Minneapolis students. For the most part, upper middle class students will be successful regardless of what the school board decides to do. This is not true for many minority students who need far more structure and support and who may not learn to read or do math or graduate without good policy decisions. This does not imply that the best and the brightest shouldn't have all the opportunities that we can afford to provide them. It means, that in good conscience, we can't let minority students blow in the wind while we provide these opportunities to students who are already at the top of the ladder. That's what social justice is all about. I strongly believe that we can do both with the resources we have, but bad policy decisions and political pandering perpetuate a dysfunctional system. That's what I think Ms. Bates was trying to point out.

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tandabussDec. 27, 13 8:57 AM

Minneapolis should thank God for people like her--so rare among school board members, who typically go along to get along. It is hard to be the voice standing apart from the others. It is hard to take a stance that will offend afluent parents. But someone needs to care about, and speak for, the kids at risk.

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wafflekDec. 27, 13 9:05 AM

It's impractical to cut out sibling preference. You can't expect working parents to have to drop off and pick up their children from different locations every morning and evening. I notice that she has three kids and it sounds like they all went to Seward? Is this a matter of do as I say, not as I do? You cannot weaken strengthen poorer high schools by weakening strong high schools. It doesn't work that way. That's what will happen with boundary changes. You also can't say that middle-class kids will be OK. Not when they are competing with EP, Edina, etc. who have a lot more educational opportunities.

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sneezy2Dec. 27, 1310:08 AM

The huge disparity in average pay between teachers in SW Minneapolis versus North Side schools reflects a much higher concentration of inexperienced teachers on the North Side. The district claims to not have this kind of data broken down school by school. For many years, the district fired all of its probationary teachers every year, and selectively rehired those who reapplied for their jobs. A teacher is on probation during their first 3 years of employment. Many of these teachers accepted offers of employment elsewhere. About one-fourth of the district's teachers were on probationary status in the Spring of 2004. In recent years the district stopped firing all probationary teachers (by sending layoff notices) but continues to fire a large number of probationary teachers for poor performance, often in their 3rd year. The newly hired teachers are heavily concentrated in schools with high concentrations of low-income students of color. Under Minnesota Administrative Rules, Chapter 3535, Equal Opportunity in Education, racial disparities of this type are deemed to be a form of illegal racial discrimination that must be corrected. However, it's been at least 7 since the Minnesota Commissioner of Education has asked the district to submit a desegregation report conforming to requirements of Chapter 3535, which includes data on educational inputs, including teacher experience, disaggregated by school, as a basis for determining whether significant racial disparities exist. In response to my requests for this information, both the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minneapolis School District deny having that type of data. Doug Mann, announced candidate for Minneapolis School Board, Citywide

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goserDec. 27, 1310:48 PM

It's one thing to have a 'lone gun' who's an uninformed crank, but I'd vote for her if I lived in MPLS. Having someone who looks at data and provides some intelligent thoughts while apologizing for missteps promptly is someone who's in the top third of any body of officials.

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farcicalDec. 28, 1311:01 AM

For all of the data she brings and shares, she seems to ignore two simple numbers. Southwest HIgh School has more students on Free -and-Reduced Lunch (FRL) than North has students. So, again, she cannot see the forest through the trees.

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