Don’t divide Minneapolis school district

Last week, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate proposed a plan to divide the Minneapolis school district into six smaller districts in an attempt to reduce the achievement gap between white and minority students.

If the proposal is accepted, the current Minneapolis school board would develop borders for the new districts. In 2017, Minneapolis voters would select six new school boards and superintendents.

The Minneapolis school district currently consists of approximately 35,000 students. In 2014, less than one-half of its students passed Minnesota’s standardized accountability tests, according to the Star Tribune. The district’s black students performed even worse, with less than one-fourth passing. For comparison, 58.8 percent of Minnesota students pass the exams.

These numbers make up one of the worst achievement gaps in the state, and the Minneapolis district has long been the target of reform proposals. Currently, the Minneapolis district is planning to start cutting administrative staff and directing the savings to its schools.

We recognize the severity of Minneapolis’ achievement gap, and we feel that reform is urgently necessary. However, we are concerned by the possibility that partition would create segregated districts. While this might improve some schools’ performance rates, it would certainly come at the expense of others’.

Moreover, we worry that dividing one district into six would create undue bureaucratic bloat at a time when it would be more effective to redirect administrative spending toward hiring new teachers and reducing class sizes.