Why Do We Need Another Like Minded DFLer on This School Board?

We have a clear cut choice this November 8th.  Do we elect more education insiders, or members of the teachers union, or do we go with someone who is tired of seeing property tax levies increase for a school district that has seen a steady decline in the number of children who can function properly in society beyond the walls of St Paul Public Schools?  Graduating 75% of the students is not good enough.  That means 25% are doomed to fail.

Greg Copeland thinks that the students in St Paul Public Schools are being underserved by a top down school district that spends money on Race Equity Training for students when that money should go directly to the classroom for better trained teachers and school counselors.

Parents have opted to send their children to some place other than St Paul Public Schools because the current school board wants to keep dangerous students that are violent, bring guns, and sell dope at schools.  Those students are not tossed out to protect the students who do want to learn, and teachers who want to teach and not cower at their desks to the threats of mobs of students that might beat them up and leave them with a brain injury.  The Teachers Union group that took over the board last year didn’t bring change until it was obvious when teachers and students are being beaten up that something or someone had to go.  All throughout the 2015 Campaign the 4 DFL endorsed candidates kept saying they weren’t going to expel students that were violent, nor were they were going to fire Silva.

It isn’t just about student violence, it is becoming a hostile learning environment for Students of Faith.  Students who know that the Inclusive Policy on Transgenders is wrong and when they speak up saying that it is wrong they are the ones who are called to the principal’s office.  Why should girls have to put up with boys who want to use their bathrooms or locker rooms. Why should Students of Faith stay?

Josh Verges, the education reporter for the St Paul Pioneer Press, wrote an excellent report on Sept 16, 2016, on why families are choosing to take their children out of the St Paul Public Schools for schools that are safer, have challenging academic standards, and an approachable staff.


We have not altered the content of the article.  We did turn off links and deleted ads.  ~~ Publius Jr.


Why are families leaving St. Paul schools?

PUBLISHED: September 16, 2016 at 8:05 pm | UPDATED: September 19, 2016 at 12:55 pm

After two false starts, St. Paul Public Schools has quit trying to figure out why families are leaving the district for other schools.

The school board declared enrollment to be a priority soon after four new members took office in January. But the first budget they passed — which prioritized direct school funding over district-level support — has undermined an effort to understand why students are enrolling in charter, private and neighboring schools.

Jackie Turner, chief operations officer, said the budget cuts forced the placement office to lay off the employee who administered a first-of-its-kind survey to families that left the district during the last school year.

“The position has been cut. This was not something that the community supported. Our community really wanted money to go to the schools,” Turner said in an interview.

Board chairman Jon Schumacher said he’d like data on what attracts families to the district and what’s pushing them away.

“I’m interested in understanding what our strengths and what our challenges are as a district,” he said. “These are all numbers that are really critical.”

But Schumacher stopped short of saying he’d push to make sure there’s money for surveys in the next budget.

He said school principals would be another source of information on what’s causing people to leave.

K-12 enrollment has been fairly flat in recent years, down 153 in five years. But it’s fallen far short of internal projections as St. Paul students have opted instead for charter schools and suburban district schools.

Their departures have exacerbated budget woes. The district now is preparing for a third straight year of spending cuts.

SURVEY SAYS … NOT MUCH

The district began conducting exit surveys under the previous school board.

Turner told the board in spring 2015 that they would survey the parents of the 147 kindergarteners who had left during the school year but still lived at the same address.

“We want to use that data to better inform how we work with our schools,” she told them.

That small effort begat a more comprehensive study into the motivations of 1,790 families that withdrew their 2,243 children from district schools between October 2015 and March 2016.

Beyond learning why they left, the district sought to make contact with individual families and discuss how they might bring them back. But the effort fell flat.

The district got responses from just 101 families, a 6 percent response rate. And of those, 40 families said they withdrew because they moved to a home outside St. Paul, making them unlikely candidates to return to a city school.

Turner identified some additional flaws in the survey’s administration: surveys were not sent immediately after a family withdrew; they were sent out only in English; and the district didn’t have the available staff to follow up with families.

The data they were able to collect, through multiple-choice questions, pointed to familiar themes. Parents cited safety concerns, unresponsive staff members and a lack of rigor in the classroom.

“I don’t think it provided the results that we were intending to receive in order to use it as a document to determine the reasons why families left,” Turner said.

Why They Left St Paul Public Schools Bar Graph

Turner said the district would have refined the survey for future years but doesn’t have the people to do that work.

“This would have gotten better each and every year we would have done it. We didn’t have an opportunity to do that,” she said.

MANY REASONS FAMILIES LEAVE

Joe Nathan, founder and senior fellow at the Center for School Change, said stakeholder surveys are a basic function for an organization. He said that beyond the reasons families pick district schools or don’t, the board should understand what parents think of arts classes, special education support and parent training programs, for example.

“I think it’s very important for the system, if it wants to grow, to understand the specific concerns,” he said.

Monica Haas, a parent who fought to protect schools from budget cuts this year, said surveys are worth the cost if they ultimately boost enrollment.

“If you look at the amount of money we’re losing just based on enrollment … that money alone is worth putting some actual effort in looking at why people are leaving,” she said. “But you have to do it in the right way.”

Haas moved three of her daughters out of district schools before they reached middle school.

She said one daughter was threatened with a hunting knife by a child who was back in class the next day. Another daughter’s teacher suggested they try a different school because with other high-need students in class, she didn’t have enough time for the girl. The third, she said, spent a day shadowing her assigned middle school and was unimpressed by what she saw.

“I still hold out hope for my youngest daughter,” now a third-grader, she said.

Haas, who was running in the special election for school board until she failed to secure the DFL endorsement, said she’s heard a variety of concerns from other parents. Whether it’s elementary arts classes, special education services or smaller classes for English language learners, they are issues the district can and should address, she said.

“There are very specific reasons why these families are bolting,” she said. “I really want this district to succeed, and I don’t think they can do it unless they really look at why people are leaving.”

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