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Amid Criticisms, Washburn Principal Promises Changes For Fall 2012

District leaders say changes have been in the works since the start of this school year.

Amid a firestorm of passionate criticism—and defense—of her leadership, Principal Carol Markham-Cousins is echoing district leaders’ promises for changes for next school year.

Two weeks ago, to the Minneapolis school board, criticizing Markham-Cousin’s leadership and the school’s current ninth and tenth grade setup, saying the school wasn’t offering challenging enough programming for his daughter and many others. District leaders responded, saying they had been working on the issue since the start of this school year and were planning to roll out changes this fall.

In a letter sent to parents and posted on the online Minneapolis Parents' Forum on Wednesday, Markham-Cousins said she was specifically asking the district to give more of her teachers training in the International Baccalaureate programs, and additional support to help them serve academically challenged and academically accelerating students who are grouped into the same classroom. Markham-Cousins also promised that she would closely watch how prepared students are for the challenging eleventh and twelfth grade IB classes, answering another core contention of parent complaints

“I invite you all to take a moment to talk to your child,” she said, citing Washburn’s growing enrollment. “(S)omething is happening here that is, as a parent phrased it, ‘magical,’ a place where a young adult can find his/her a space that is comfortable and safe, allowing learning to take place.”

The issue has also brought forth strong statements of support for Washburn from current students and parents.

“Washburn is staffed with a phenomenal group of teachers, and I have always felt supported by them and the rest of the administration throughout my four years,” wrote one commenter on Patch, who identified themselves as a “Washburn Senior. “I fully believe my education at Washburn has both challenged me over the last four years as well as prepared me for college next fall.”

“It is unfortunate that (my son) has to take 2 years of math (online Geometry + in-school Algebra II) to be fully challenged. However, I would tell prospective Washburn parents that the school is well-aware now that tons of able math kids are coming from Anthony, etc.,” wrote David Brauer in the same comments thread. “Carol is a dogged fighter for the kids who you see less frequently at some Southwest elementaries, and I've seen her stumble at PR, but I think she gets it about this.”

Southwest parent March 03, 2012 at 02:04 PM
So basically the curriculum is staying the same without any enriched or advanced classes. Sounds like Markham Cousins is doubling down on the same ideologically-driven curriculum that is out of step with all the surrounding districts and which offers students no options to take truly advanced or accelerated courses. Rather than taking the time to develop a curriculum that challenges all students at all levels, MPS seems to concentrate more on PR slogans as a substitute for sound policy. First we had "every child college ready." Then we had "honors for all." Will the next slogan be "every kid a winner"?
Tory James March 16, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Washburn is the high school for most kids from Field and Field students have been very prepared for a rigorous curriculum. As a parent of a Washburn Sophomore, I am a bit concerned as my daughter hasn't had to bring home much homework the last 2 years. I know the teachers are very talented, but I've been wondering about the rigor for the junior and senior years and if my daughter will be college ready once she graduates.
Southwest Dad April 10, 2013 at 08:19 PM
There is no rigor at Washburn. I know two sets of parents who have pulled their children from Washburn because the classes offer no challenge whatsoever. One was able to get his kid into Southwest and the other open enrolled in Edina. Both report that their kids are having much better academic experiences at those two schools.

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