Twin Cities superintendents try to address achievement gap
Aug. 18, 2017
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A group of Twin Cities superintendents is attempting to address the segregation and academic achievement gap issues that are still prevalent in Minnesota schools.
Nearly 50 superintendents launched the Reimagine Minnesota initiative to create recommendations that schools can use to improve education equity, the Pioneer Press reported .
"We want to make sure we are able to provide the basis for everyone to be a success in our district," said Joe Gothard, St. Paul superintendent.
The group held meetings last year to get input from students, parents, educators and community members. Suggestions included improving communication between schools and families, increasing student support services and hiring more diverse educators.
The group also held a day-long conference with students to get their perspective on education. Many students focused on improving student-teacher relationships and giving students more say in their education.
"I know change is possible if we put effort into it," said Ann Doan, who will be a junior at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. "It's our education. Why shouldn't we have more of a say?"
The group is expected to complete its recommendations later this year. It was created in part as a response to a 2015 lawsuit against state officials and local schools.
The lawsuit alleges that policies worsen segregation and the achievement gap.
"I'm concerned about my kids' education," said Alex Cruz, a St. Paul resident and one of the plaintiffs. "I want them to get a better education and have a better life."
The lawsuit has been thrown out, but that decision will be reviewed by the state Supreme Court later this year.
The state has more than 200 schools where over 90 percent of enrollees are students of color, according to state records. That's nearly double the amount of minority students than in 2002.
Minnesota students' tests scores have remained stagnant in recent years, but there have been improvements to high school graduation rates for all student groups.
The state spends about $75 million annually on programs to integrate schools and address the achievement gap.
Education spending in the state has increased by about $2 billion while Gov. Mark Dayton has been in office. Much of the money goes toward all-day kindergarten and early-childhood education.
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com