Tuesday night, the Minneapolis Board of Education approved a new calendar that has the school district starting classes a week before Labor Day for the second year in a row.
The school board also approved the district's 2014-2015 calendar, which also includes the early start date. Both calendars are posted at right. As with the 2012-2013 school year, administrators said the early start date was necessary to help boost student's scores on state standardized tests. From a district statement announcing the vote:
Minneapolis Public Schools has one of the shortest school days and school years in the state. Adding quality student-teacher instructional time to the school calendar is another critical step in the work to significantly improve academic outcomes for students.
Minneapolis Public Schools understands that increased time in school alone will not improve academic performance. But when combined with other key strategies such as increased teacher effectiveness, additional time in the classroom will benefit students who are struggling and will have a positive effect on students who are excelling.
Other highlights from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 calendars:
- Three-day Thanksgiving break (November 27-29, 2013; 26-28, 2014)
- 10 day winter break (Dec. 23, 2013-Jan. 3, 2014; Dec. 22, 2014-Jan. 2, 2015)
- Five-day spring break (March 31-April 4, 2014; March 30-April 3, 2015)
- School ends June 6, 2014 and June 5, 2015
Teacher Contract Forum
The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers turned out large numbers of supporters for a public forum on the new teacher's contract preceding Tuesday night's board meeting. According to the Southwest Journal, Mayor RT Rybak put in a plug for rethinking the way teacher seniority is used in layoffs to protect the longest-serving teachers. He also called for longer school days, more community support for afterschool activities, and more diversity in the district's teaching force.
Many union supporters, the Southwest Journal reports, retorted with lines like “Please do not believe by getting rid of seniority we will somehow magically shrink the achievement gap," and attacks on Teach for America's small presence in the district.