The fight over the potential redistricting of Minneapolis Public Schools reached a flash point Tuesday when more than 200 parents and teachers showed up to the district’s headquarters to weigh in on the controversial proposal that could shuffle thousands of students to new schools.
Parents, teachers and students rallied outside an hour before the school board began its Tuesday meeting, the last before Superintendent Ed Graff is expected to unveil a final version of his proposal. It would upend the district’s makeup by cutting and relocating magnet schools and redrawing attendance boundaries, which officials said would address racial disparities and an anticipated budget deficit of nearly $20 million.
Outside the building, a large crowd opposing the Comprehensive District Design (CDD) waved signs bearing pointed messages like “Comprehensive District Disaster” and chanted that district officials should “show your work” — a dig at what many parents said is a lack of data behind the proposal. These parents presented a resolution to the school board, urging members to delay their April vote and have the district come up with a new plan that includes community input.
“It’s illogical to move forward with a vote when there is ... so little known and so much misinformation,” said Tania Ramirez, whose grandson is enrolled at Windom Dual Immersion School, which would lose its Spanish language magnet program.
But during public comment that spanned more than two hours, many speakers praised the district for the plan. They said that major change is needed to fix a school system that has historically placed its most popular academic programs in south Minneapolis, shorting North Side students of a quality education. North Side students would have access to three magnet schools and a career and technical education hub under the proposal.
“In even conceptualizing this plan, you are acknowledging decades upon decades of inequity,” said Courtney Bell, a North High School alum and former social studies teacher in the district. “I ask that you stand on this and that you vote yes for the CDD.”
Tensions were high throughout the rally and board meeting, with some parents and educators engaging in shouting matches in front of children. When some speakers challenged the audience to advocate for all children — not just their own — half the crowd burst out with a repeated chant of “We are!”
The tense debate over the future of the district was off-putting to some. North High librarian Liz Aram said she feels that certain parents and communities have more influence than others. She said she’s on the fence about the proposal.
“We’re definitely under-enrolled right now,” Aram said of her school. But, “we don’t necessarily want to be saved by bringing in a bunch of kids that don’t want to be there.” North High would swell from 326 students to 1,431 under the plan, according to district projections.
Francisco Segovia criticized the district for not engaging enough families and approaching the restructuring from a “deficit-based” mind-set. His son, Camilo, is in first grade at Dowling Elementary, which would lose its environmental magnet designation.
“I want an educational system that doesn’t see a number, that sees a kid,” he said. “Why don’t you put more resources so that we create citizens that care about the environment?”
Ryan Faircloth • 612-673-4234