Minneapolis schools must do more

Hmong International Academy protests show a need for action.

In protest of unstable leadership and constantly shifting educational goals, the parents of students at Hmong International Academy marched to the Minneapolis School District’s headquarters last week.

The academy has been unable to retain a principal for more than a year over the past several years. Parents said at a meeting with school officials that the district is ignoring the cultural and educational needs of Hmong students.

The protest is one of many problems in the Minneapolis School District this year. Dropping enrollment numbers — only two new students enrolled for the 2014-15 school year — and a large achievement gap have the district facing budget cuts and questions about the future of its schools and students.

The district has tried to address these problems, in part by rolling out a new strategic plan to help close achievement gaps and ensure “college and career ready” students. District officials are also planning to “market” their schools to parents to improve enrollment. But it’s too soon to judge how effective the plan will be at improving education for Minneapolis students. 

Regardless of enrollment or budgeting problems, the educational instability faced by thousands of students in Minneapolis schools is a more serious issue. We hope the new strategic plan will be effective in improving student performance and educational experiences for current students, not just future ones. The district must make sure that the focus remains on helping students learn, not merely on bolstering the image of Minneapolis schools through marketing or other means.