Early Start Times Pitched for Southwest Schools
Move will help academically struggling schools, superintendent says.
Southwest Minneapolis' schools could be starting four days earlier if teachers and the school board approve a plan proposed Tuesday to combat the district's yawning achievement gap between white students and students of color.
"This proposal represents a proven strategy to increase the amount of instructional time we are providing students, particularly at sites where academic performance is lower than at most other schools," Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said in a letter sent to parents Friday morning.
Under the plan, every district school would start on Aug. 27, while a select group of academically struggling schools would start on Aug. 20. The schools starting on Aug. 20 are: Anishinabe, Bancroft, Bethune, Broadway, Cityview, Edison, Folwell (program moved from current Ramsey site), Green Central, Hall, Hmong International Academy, Lucy Laney, North, Olson, Pratt, Sheridan and Wellstone.
At a meeting of Southwest Minneapolis parents and district leaders on Thursday night, Associate Superintendent Theresa Battle said the district chose an earlier start over a later finish to give academically struggling kids more class time to prepare for the high-stakes GRAD test. The test is taken every spring, and most students must pass the test’s three portions in order to graduate.
“This is what our kids need,” Battle told parents. “Look at a school like Lyndale (Community School), where they make more than a year’s growth in one year. But we need to give them more time.”
Minneapolis students currently attend school 172 days a year. North Minneapolis’ Seed-Harvest Preparatory School, which serves mostly low-income African-American students and is widely seen to be closing the achievement gap, keeps its students in school for over 190 days per year.
If the teacher’s union agrees to the extended school year, the school board will vote on the proposal in their Feb. 28 board meeting.