Moving Forward ~ Comprehensive District Designed for ALL STUDENTS

Groups debating the CDD (Comprehensive District Design) have been characterized by District Leaders (Board and Superintendent ) as those for and those against. District Leaders have pitted areas of the city against each other in this plan, demonizing those who speak up and speak out against facets of the plan. Refusing to listen and work with parents, educators, school staff, students, community members ~ voices from across Minneapolis, diverse voices in multiple languages, who want to be a part of the process, and progress, of a comprehensive redesign. It is concerning who District Leaders are listening to ~ members of the *Advancing Equity Coalition, a collaboration of foundations and nonprofits predominantly supporting education reform, like Teach for America, charter schools and other privatization of public education efforts. This group was regularly advising District leaders, pushing out positive messages about CDD, and supporting smear campaigns against those who spoke up to question the CDD. Their interest, given that most folks in this group do not have students in MPS? Expanding the charter school footprint which requires school buildings, which MPS has.

Why is this important? This CDD will disrupt over 70% of our students and families. Board Chair Ellison was asked by a group of parents at a January CDD engagement meeting, “how many families MPS expected to lose should the CDD plan (in its current form) get voted in by the school board?” Her answer, one-third.

*Financial Stability *Fiscal Sustainability *Equitable Access to Academic Programming *Well Rounded Education *Improved Academic Outcomes. *Safe and Supportive School Environments. *Safe Commutes to School

If the Comprehensive District Design is meant to resolve longstanding issues, then they must begin by identifying the problems. What are they trying to solve? We definitely need more resources to address the increasingly high needs of many of the students we serve in Minneapolis Public Schools. But we are losing students, so how do we bring them back? We have schools grossly undersubscribed, thus very expensive to operate and unable to provide robust programming. How do we get more buy in to those schools? Families leave because they don’t feel their student is safe commuting to school, standing at the bus stop, or at school because of behavior issues and bullying. How do we work with city partners to address neighborhood safety? How do we allocate resources to address trauma, social/emotional learning, mental health, substance abuse, and restorative practices to heal and rebuild school communities? Early childhood and parent education programs are proven to work to prepare students, close gaps entering the K-12 system, and have long term benefits of higher achievement and graduation rates. How do we increase our PreK programming to address the massive unmet need in Minneapolis? NONE OF THESE QUESTIONS are answered by the current CDD.

Beyond not addressing the persistent problems in MPS, the current CDD would create a plethora of new issues for our students in families. For example, in District 6. The current CDD would result in an undersubscribed SWHS and an overcrowded Washburn HS. It would create two massive overcrowded middle schools (Justice Page and Anthony). It would increase transportation costs by closing K-8 schools and busing to middle schools instead. It would segregate community schools and remove popular and successful programming like Open, Montessori and Spanish Immersion. It would most likely result in a loss of students, as families across Minneapolis have stated in their comments about CDD. This would result in destabilizing schools and possible school closures which would be further disruption.

The plan attempts to address the overcrowded schools in District 6 through boundary changes, de-magnetizing schools and creating community schools with new boundaries, and creating one size fits all K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 school models. All of that is massively disruptive. Could we, instead, resolve overcrowding with changes to the placement policy? Could we consider grade K-6 and 7-8 school models to alleviate overcrowding in our middle schools? Could we utilize small school buildings better by creating dual campuses that serve grades K-2 and 3-5 (or 3-6), like combing Kenny and Armatage? Viable options that are less disruptive, less expensive and do not require massive boundary changes or capital investments. Does the District need to make changes to be financially sustainable? Yes. However, a plan causing massive disruption, risking loss of enrollment, destabilizing communities, dismantling programs that are successful with all students and closing the gaps, and segregating schools is not a fiscally responsible path.

Next steps? How do we move forward to build a comprehensive District that is designed to work for ALL STUDENTS? Together. With transparency. With leadership.

*”The Advancing Equity Coalition is a group of community organizations and stakeholders focused on ensuring that as Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) moves through its Comprehensive District Design (CDD) process…. (quote from their website)”

Paid and Prepared for by Rebecca Gagnon Campaign Fund.