The Minneapolis Public Schools district is facing an urgent, existential crisis of its own making. For decades, district decisions have had a racially unjust and inequitable impact on students in north and northeast Minneapolis, which, in turn, has driven many families of color out of the district.
These decisions have often been made due to pressure from more affluent parents in south and southwest Minneapolis and from the teachers union. With students of color constituting 65% of the district’s student body, this is no longer financially viable.
Decades of tweaks and band-aids haven’t addressed the systemic racism on which the Minneapolis Public Schools system is built. And as more families of color choose better options for their children and as the racial inequities have become too large to ignore, the district has finally been forced to respond. The district lost nearly 1,500 students last year, 80% of whom were children of color and indigenous students. Today, fewer than 40-60% of school-aged children in north and northeast Minneapolis attend Minneapolis Public Schools.
After nearly two years of planning and community engagement, Superintendent Ed Graff and his leadership team have proposed a Comprehensive District Design (CDD) to bring about the deep systemwide change needed to entice families back to the district and set a course for financial sustainability and racial equity. They should be applauded and supported.
It’s giving families of color a glimmer of hope and sending a signal the district is serious about educating all of our children. The School Board will vote on the plan on April 14. We encourage them to adopt it – and then to go further.