Thursday, February 12, 2004

Making a virtue out of necessity 

I'm not going to be the only edublogger in the NA for much longer, at the rate Mitch is going. He continues his latest trend to day with a look at where schools are closing in Minneapolis. A school system built for 50,000 students expects to have only 38,000 next year, so some have to be shuttered. According to the school district's own report, the district would save $2.8 million in the short run and $9.7mm in the long run. But that's not all, Mitch notes:
notice the number of closing or merged schools in areas where real estate values are booming - downtown, around Northeast, along the Hiawatha Corridor, in the gentrifying parts of the North Side. This is prime real estate that's earning the city, and the school district, nothing right now.

So here's what you have:

  1. Minneapolis has 12,000 seats more than it needs. It has to consolidate.
  2. All of that prime underutilized real estate is a potential cash cow for the district.
  3. Perhaps most importantly, publicising the pain of the school closings as a response to state budget cuts is a great way for the DFL-controlled Minneapolis school board to shift the blame to the Republican-dominated legislature (with the full connivance of professional guilt-mongers like Nick Coleman),even as the closings perfectly fit their need to consolidate.
  4. It's a political attack on both the charter school systems - which are becoming vastly more popular as the MPS's academic record atrophies - and "white flight". Don't underestimate the connection the DFL will make using these two issues during the upcoming legislative session.
What, public schools attack charter schools? I don't believe it! [ /deadpan>