Minneapolis Schools, like most school districts, struggles with diversity. They struggle with making sure their schools are not segregated based on color or economic status. That is difficult when people of like economic status tend to live in certain areas.
One of the ways Minneapolis Schools achieves this is through parent choice. Parents in Minneapolis Schools are given options such as private school vouchers, charter schools, and opting to send their children outside of their neighborhood. Although this program has done a good job of helping to desegregate schools, there are some areas in the Minneapolis Schools where this has had the opposite affect.
There are some Minneapolis Schools where white students are transferring out of schools where they are already the minority, and students of color are transferring into these schools. One of the obstacles to this program is that there simply are not enough white students enrolled in the Minneapolis Schools to balance the numbers. Another obstacle is that students struggling to transfer into these schools are overwhelming the building capacity of the more desirable schools.
The Minneapolis Schools have looked at various options to aid parent choice. But some things, like providing transportation for students who choose not to attend their neighborhood schools, is almost impossible to fit into an already stretched budget. Minneapolis Schools labels schools as “racially identifiable” if they are not adequately desegregated. These schools receive funding to attract students into their buildings- but this doesn’t always work.
Upper income white parents hesitate to send their children into lower income neighborhoods, even when the education itself is comparable. There is some rational basis to this as studies have shown that students can be pulled wither up or down by their academic surroundings. So bringing better-educated families into these poorer areas is likely to benefit the lower income families, but there is fear that it will negatively impact the students from the upper income families.
Minneapolis Schools have made a commitment to work this issue out through other programs such as changing school boundaries. The Minneapolis Schools draw the boundaries so that they include neighborhoods at both ends of the spectrum to attempt to achieve the racial equity it desires. One of the reasons for this commitment that Minneapolis Schools have to solving this dilemma is the overwhelming proof that children who are racially and economically segregated have lower overall performance than those from racially and economically diverse schools. That is the main reason for their push to achieve this balance. Research has also shown that diversity improves relationships amongst students, improves over all academic performance, and improves the attendance records of all students involved. That is of course the main mission of Minneapolis Schools: to improve education for all students.
Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U. S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit Minneapolis Schools