In attempt to improve the achievement gap in city schools, Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, proposed a bill that would apply mayoral control to the schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. This method is a step backward. It takes away community voice and input, while adding more political control.
Currently, the Twin Cities schools have a board elected by voters. This board makes important decisions regarding schools in the area, like choosing a superintendent. People of the community should always have the opportunity to choose board members since it’s their children and their tax dollars going to the schools.
Kelly proposed that shift control in 2015 when their terms expire. After taking away voters’ option to choose their school board members, the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis would instead appoint a seven-person board. The mayor would also appoint a chief executive who’s not required to be a state-licensed superintendent. Minneapolis attempted a similar approach to controlling schools in the 1990s but gave up on the idea. Cities across the nation that have tried this method have had “mixed results,” according to the Star Tribune.
Kelly must rethink his plan, because it’s less democratic, and it gives less local control to schools. Giving the mayor the ability to choose each person on a new board gives too much power to one person (the mayor) and too little voice to the communities that actually interact with the schools. Both the Twin Cities mayors are confident in the system currently in place to improve schools, so instead of stopping momentum, we should continue to move forward and improve upon the original plan.