Teacher shuffle

Minneapolis public schools shake things up at two area high schools.

As the Minneapolis Public Schools system tries to solve its countless performance issues, the school board is planning to expand the use of more extreme and controversial measures. Last week, officials from the Minneapolis Public Schools announced that two underperforming high schools will be starting next year with new staff members.

The new plan gives a fresh start to the schools by opening up every staff position and allowing teachers from around the district to apply. Positions will be granted on merit without regard to seniority. This procedure has been done seven previous times in Minneapolis and faced considerable opposition from teachers’ unions and community members. The results of these staff overhauls are inconclusive (four of the schools have closed, and the other three have had mixed results).

The fact that this process has been done before doesn’t make it any easier or more comforting to swallow. This feels like a knee-jerk reaction by the district – a plan with no vision. Certainly some good could come from introducing new staff to these schools, but this plan potentially strips away the experienced faculty that form the skeleton of these schools. Some of these teachers are mentors, have working relationships with students and the community, and they form one of the most functional aspects of these troubled schools.

Reform isn’t a bad idea for Minneapolis; in fact, it’s probably necessary. But the logic that shaking things up will eventually lead to better schools is simply not true. Change for the sake of change will not make students more educated, and shuffling staff is not enough to improve the district overall. The plan wrongly implies that teachers are the source of the problems in our city schools, and the proposed “solution” only gives an illusion of real reform to these suffering schools.