Monday, December 20, 2010

You would certainly think, with a name like “Eden Prairie”

That if you moved out there, you wouldn’t have to be bothered by brown people. What is this world coming to? I mean, if you’re willing to drive an hour each way to and from work in downtown Minneapolis, live in a place whose town square is a shopping mall, and there are more square feet of concrete dedicated to helping people get out of town than anywhere else in Minnesota I know, shouldn’t there be some compensation? (just gentle teasing, my Eden Prairie friends, just teasing)

Well, maybe not. You see, the Eden Prairie school board is considering a plan to redraw school boundaries to reduce the growing school segregation in the district. Here’s the lede from the linked Strib article in the paper this morning:

When Eden Prairie's seven school board members convene Tuesday night, the controversial decision they are set to make about redrawing school boundary lines will be of keen interest throughout the metro area.

Will they back a plan that will move 1,100 elementary students next fall to new schools, largely to reduce segregation in schools? Or will they scale back in response to a huge parental outcry and make fewer changes or nix the plan altogether?

At parent meetings on the plan, Myron Orfield, whom I have cited often for the proposition that the “achievement gap” is mostly about segregation and poverty, spoke in favor of the plan and was greeted with the famous Eden Prairie Raspberry:

Myron Orfield, a University of Minnesota law professor, has advocated for integration efforts at many Twin Cities schools. He has spoken in favor of Eden Prairie's plan and was booed by some parents at meetings.

No, that’s Hopkins; sorry.

Here’s what Orfield says about the plan and how parents respond:

"This is a big decision for the school board and for the region -- whether we're going to have racially integrated school districts," Orfield said. ''The implications [if the proposed plan fails] will be that there are a group of white racist parents who can stop integration in schools."

Many Eden Prairie parents who disagree with the boundary change plan are adamant that their stand isn't about race. They say they don't oppose integration, but they disagree with a plan that moves students away from neighborhood schools.

Of course! It’s never about race.

One thing that needs to be kept in perspective is that we’re talking about moving kids around in Eden Prairie, not busing them to North Oakes, although some parents would probably find that preferable to the present plan.

It is interesting to me that in my own home town, parents from all over town send (and bus) their kids to Normandale French Immersion School, and then to the middle school where the continuation of that program takes place, Valley View Middle School. Other districts do similar things, and I’ll bet you they do it in Eden Prairie, too. All without the hue and cry that has arisen over the current Eden Prairie proposal. It is disingenuous to call what Eden Prairie wants to do “destruction of neighborhood schools.”

At some point, we are going to have to understand as a state that if we are truly serious – as opposed frowning and merely saying “serious” things – about eliminating the racial achievement gap, we’re going to have to address segregation and poverty. That is an inescapable and unalterable truth.

I personally really doubt that we are serious as a state about eliminating that gap, but it is a convenient way for conservatives to beat up on the public teachers’ unions.

Maintaining segregation and beating up the teachers: it’s a two-fer!

Finally, I urge you to watch what happens if the Eden Prairie plan is adopted. There will be parents who will send their kids to white charter schools, even though they have to be bused farther that they would under the Eden Prairie plan.


DiscordianStooge said...

Of course, as we all know, "Calling (these parents racists) – especially at this point in the proceedings – is irresponsible and slanderous."

blogspotdog said...

You do seem to find your muse later in the evening, Stoo.

a) Talk to Myron Orfield.

b) There this nothing like the lynch mob on Twitter out to get Julian Assange at work here.

c) Three of the most important rules in politics are: 1) When they say it isn't about the money, it's about the money; 2) When they say it isn't about the sex, it's about the sex; and 3) when they say it isn't about race; it's about race.

(And don't say that #2 applies to Assange, because he didn't bring it up.)

DiscordianStooge said...

<span>I work nights, my friend.  
<span>And don't say that #2 applies to Assange, because he didn't bring it up</span>

Well, it seems to me the parents didn't "bring it up" either. Orfield did.  
How does switching schools change the fact that the kids are still living in poverty?  
I'm curious if you think th</span>

blogspotdog said...

I'll wait for you to finish the thought, but as to the Assange reference, I only mention it because of your fixation with the quote from a earlier post.

DiscordianStooge said...

My question was whether the Mpls. North High closing was due to racism as well.

I saw some EP parents interviewed on TV tonight. "I don't want my 3rd grader to have to switch schools!" I'm sure they'll deal. To me, they seemed less racist and more just whiney and opposed to change.

Here's hoping the new districts help some kids.

blogspotdog said...

That's funny. I was almost certain your question was, "I'm curious if you think that switching schools really helps?" That's the one I was considering, so I'll answer that one first. Well, not really "answer" it, because my personal opinion probably isn't all that useful.

But I think guys like Myron Orfield would say that getting the kids integrated at the earliest possible level is important. This is when the kids are learning to read, and their vocabulary is really exploding. And it sets them up for life.

You can see this - or the converse of it, really - in the results of some of the school choice programs that are run in the cities. Students who move to suburban middle and high schools often struggle because they are already behind their suburban peers.

This is why it is such a canard to say that just putting a cadre of new, inexperienced teachers in the poorly performing schools in the inner city is going to help. That was, is, and always will be a diversion play from the real issue.

I can't say, Stoo, that North, or City View, for that matter, is closing due to racism; I don't really know. I can tell you, however, that my favorite radio station in town is KBEM, the jazz and traffic station and that, if you follow the link, you'll see that the station is a program of the Minneapolis schools, run out of North High School. There are obviously some interesting and unique things going on at North, but it's a failing school because we're all in thrall to the high stakes testing regime.

blogspotdog said...

And congratulations to Eden Prairie schools for taking this courageous and difficult decision.

And I take back all the mean things I said.

blogspotdog said...

There were several letters about the School Board decision in today's Strib, Christmas Day. I repeat my kudos for the decision by the Board, and recognize that it was a hard one; that it won't be perfect in its implementation, and that it will require the goodwill of everyone to make it work. Good luck and Godspeed, Eden Prairie.