Firing won’t solve achievement gap

Facing criticism from the federal government about Minneapolis’ large achievement gap between white and minority students, the city has attempted to rectify the situation by firing 200 teachers who were deemed not effective enough, while increasing training for those who remain, the Star Tribune reported earlier this month.

The main problem with reports like this, according to Greta Callahan, a teacher in one of Minneapolis’ poorest schools, is that inner-city schools have different needs than the more affluent schools they are compared with. Obstacles such as low funding, low retention rates for teachers and students with difficult home lives resulting in violent outbursts are just a few examples of challenges these schools face.

Furthermore, kids with little to no previous schooling and those from other countries with little command of English consistently show up throughout the school year, often leaving abruptly.

It is important to understand the plight of the teachers before criticizing them. To address this problem, instead of instating more tests to measure effectiveness of instruction — which does little to actually address the problems at hand — Minneapolis should incentivize teachers.

Providing inner-city teachers with full benefits and a decent salary would be an effective way to attract those who have experience but prefer the less demanding route of teaching in more affluent areas.

Firing teachers who are new to the job and doing their best to cope with limited resources, respect or support is a laughably ludicrous solution to an obviously difficult problem.