Integration Task Force Meeting: 31 January 2012

NOTE: These are not official minutes, these are very biased and raw notes. Don’t expect fairness, balance, or completeness! I am just trying to be quick at communicating what is happening on the task force. Initials generally refer to task force members, a list of whom can be found at the official task for website. …Eric

ST shares his updated “One Minnesota” plan.

Adds a recommendation numbe 4 for a Metro Integration School District that covers seven county metro area… Develop a choice program… Operate existing magnet school (WMEP and EMID)… Plan for further magnet schools… Develop regional transit structure and review transportation plans… Coordinate professionals services and become a center of excellence… Facilitates school lotteries… Establish governance structure.

RE comments on And says he’s on board… 3.a.iv asks about low income, free-reduced, definition as compared to 3.d.v

ST stiles all day kindergarten from 3.d.v

RE asks for clarification on 4, ST fills in background on WMEP, EMID, and NWS. RE wonders what these three entities would think of 4.

HB notes the plan offers some hope of sustainability. Wonders why task force would add a new layer to the existing structures for combining districts. The sustainability of this proposal might have some merit given the voluntary nature of much participation. Raises local involvement and control issues.

RE asks about 4.b… Raises Crosswinds concerns about future of school (referencing Strib article?). Will we fund them even if the local districts don’t want them? Will we operate magnet schools? Is this how we want to use integration equity money for this? Will we use other funding? ST notes that there are other sources of funding per pupil.

HB offers to clarify funding a bit. WMEP, for example, operates based on the general fund revenue they receive rather than on integration funding. Note, WMEP gets their levies, and high levies to boot.

RE proposes consolidation of 4.d and 4.e… ST says this is an effort to call a time out and take opportunity to coordinate, to say there is a limited source of funding that needs to be maximized. [of course, if the metro area had truly effective public transit, then schools could just use that!]

RE calls attention to 3.b.iii and concern that they should not be in position of recruiting parents to run for school board. ST says this is about informing parents of the roles available and agrees to change the term to roles.

KK notes that metro wide integration district has been proposed for 20 years or so and that one district over seven counties would be too large to manage properly. Usually this has been put in terms of five or so super districts. It has been primarily aimed at imposing racial quotas and changing school district boundary lines. ST points out neither quotas nor boundaries are in this plan. KK goes on to raise the specter that the board running this district would be non-democratic. ST notes he is now aware of rules regarding schools board formation that may have impact on his proposal. KK goes on to note the huge transportation costs that would be inherent in this plan, bussing kids across the entire thing, costs of more than $2,000 per year.

ST responds that the point here is to have a regional approach that will maximize choice and minimize transportation needs. Have a central board that designates which districts can go to which schools. KK asks what the point is then. Says in 1994 legislature raised concerns about such a mega plan.

MO points out that this plan just tries to achieve economies of scale. Nobody has ever suggested quotas, which are illegal. KK revises to ceilings and floors.

KK asks why we would create one metro integration district when the ones we have are failing. MPLS pulling out of WMEP, superintendents on board of EMID calling that district into question. Why continue with this model?

HB points out that achievement gap is a new measure and a global issue in Minnesota, not fair to saddle integration districts as failed based on this. Describes some of the funding model issues that challenge integration districts.

KK notes that human nature encourages investment in the status quo. We hear the voices of the haves, not the have nots. We do not hear the voices of the have nots, those who want to go to Harvest Prep II. Tries to say that the task force has heard no testimony that integration works. Many voices on the task force object at they have heard that testimony, MO points out KK’s own witnesses said integration works.

HB says it would be wrong to throw out these schools, that are doing so much more than just serving the gap. Parents in WMEP are satisfied, and I bet in other districts as well.

ST says that this proposal is really an attempt to meet the spirit of the task the task force was assigned. This is about increasing achievement and it is about integration, but not just one or the other. It says let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.

MO says that in terms of more Harvest Preps, there are about 10 or 12 and only Harvest Prep scores well, the rest are very poor, some are even now closed. KK and MO spat over David Armor testimony.

KK says this plan looks a lot like what we already have. Concerned about lack of consequences for failure or incentives for success. ST calls attention to part 2.d which says MDE may withhold money if districts don’t meet their goals.

BM understands that district plans and goals have to be approved by MDE before districts get money at all. Notes that in Nobels county we have done some good things, and we must preserve what is targeted toward integration around the state.

RE thinks the task force should offer guidance to MDE for the measures by which it will evaluate plans. Points back to his own recommendation’s specifics on evaluation. ST gets text from RE. Nobody knows what Scranton data is.

PS notes that we are changing may to shall and other terms without a fiscal model and that will kill chances for this plan to get a vote. ST says our charge is to redesign the use of the revenue, not to redesign the revenue generation mechanism. PS worries that the task force may have difference of opinion about what is in and out of scope for the task force. Breaking open this can of worms may leave them without a report.

KK notes that the money will go away, sunset, in 2014.

CM shows up at the task force for first time since December!

PS asks if there is support for three changes: money spent on integration gets spent on 3.b and 3.d, and hold districts accountable for achievement. 1 and 2 have been discussed and are important, but may lose votes on this task force. Level the differences, no district should get four times what another district gets.

MO and PS go back and forth on language for integration aid.

ST says he is interested in a vote on each component. These things are meant to stand together.

RB says we should be profoundly clear. Jesus, St. Paul, and Billy Graham were profoundly clear, we should be too. Let’s stay focussed, hand it off to the legislature, and leave it to them. Likes the “do no harm” principle.

HB asks to discuss RE and PS proposals as well. PS points out that words smithing ST proposal won’t make it a consensus report.

BM asks about staff development in PS plan. PS says that it affects freedom. However good it is, we have limited dollars and this is a place not to spend it. HB says that when staff will work with unfamiliar cultures there are things they need to know. PS worries that informing people about the soles of shoes being offensive will lead to discussions of the crusades. Dominos. ST points to his section 3.c.

PS says his proposal is a filter through which he looks at other proposals, not a proper proposal itself. RE thinks that ST has made some very specific proposals, some of which need MDE clarification. Ann Parks can hand out a draft, but will not be able to present.

RE has trouble with the theme of “One Minnesota” in a plan that is not balanced or level playing field. Plus MDE has no resources for oversight. Districts should have to earn this money, but it is a wide open field.

Ann Parks describes her draft un-vetted document to the task force.

Focus on three bullet points in middle: look at success and failure of initiatives in districts in order to give feedback, look at success of cost initiatives, make it possible to provide concrete data to decision makers across the state. RE points out this is the model for what is currently being undertaken in Brooklyn Center schools, AP agrees. Data is currently captured at MDE, and IT staff involved in evaluating this plan. It will take more than one person to implement this system and consolidate results. No timelines beyond trials have been set, for example, not clears sure of outcomes would be available in FY13 or FY14.

[I see ST AB BM CM MO WG and HB leaning toward ST plan. KK RE PS and RB leaning against it. PW not present, but likely opposed as well. WG looking like a peacemaker.]

RE proposes 0.01% of budget for oversight… $400,000. AB notes that AP plan would also clarify the definition of integration. ST suggests incorporating three AP bullets into task force recommendations.

PS concerned with the policy in the AP plan, but finds bullets OK.

PS wants percentages next to items in ST plan, with majority on 3.b and 3.d.

RE goes for level playing field again and worries about Worthington v. Twin Cities. MO suggests level the playing field by looking at actual integration of the district. HB nudges the discussion toward class issues and the “level” playing field. It is not as simple as diversity, there are other factors at play, particularly in urban areas.

BM wonders whether there can be a transition time. RE advocates transition to FY14.

PS points out there is other compensatory that covers free and reduced lunch (poverty) and ELL (recent immigrant).

RE believes that 100% of administration should come out of local levy, not out of state money. HB not prepared to support that, finds it picking on administration.

HB questions the interest in a $35 levy authority for SPPS. RE says that he met with SPPS business manager and lobbyist and they were grateful for this being included.

HB questions the RE proposal for private schools getting integration funding. RE disowns that. RE says he is willing to interface with ST and PS and subcommittee to immerse themselves in writing a new draft. HB presses, has RE given up on some of these ideas, does not want surprise at the end of the day.

[Looks like ST will be fulcrum of a proposal for the report.]

ST asks the task force to describe the program pieces and then work on funding. PS says that’s backwards, determine funding first, then program.

KK wants to support some aspects of 3.a.

BM looking for a pathway to proceeding toward more equitable funding.

MO says he would like to work with RE some more. He likes working with RE! For some reason everyone thinks this is very funny.

RB, use money for closing the gap, accountability, and integration, in that order.

ST argues that $16b is going toward closing the gap via general education funding, not to mention three other task forces dealing with the gap.

ST on next steps…

Approve the parameters of the program and a fiscal model. ST proposes voting on the program, and then the model, and then the whole package at the end.

Working Sunday at 2pm at home of ST. Not a quorum or a public meeting, but it sounds like the task force plans on getting a lot of work done that day.

END OF NOTES, more about the task force on our Integration Revenue Replacement Advisory Task Force page.