As you can see by the statistic shared on the billboard above, which is located directly across the street from the Minneapolis Public Schools' district headquarters, the plight of Black students in the district is absolutely unacceptable. Minneapolis has given all manner of excuses, promises, and "new" plans for years and years, yet little changes. And that's while spending an average of $21,000 or more per student each year.
The truth of the matter is that between the years 2001 and 2014, the average reading proficiency of black students was only 33%. Again, absolutely unacceptable.
But even those numbers don't fully reveal the magnitude of the problems in Minneapolis because they represent Black students in all grades. When we look at how poorly Minneapolis students are reading in high school (the last MCA test for reading is given in 10th grade), one is confronted by the dire truth that immediate, systemic change is required.
Based on reading proficiency test data from the Minnesota Department of Education, in 2015 only 30% of 10th grade students in Minneapolis were reading at or above grade-level. When one separates students by race in 10th grade, one finds that 62% of white students were reading at or above grade-level, but only 37% of Asian students, 15% of Hispanic students, 16% of Black students, and 11% of Native-American students were reading at or above grade-level.
If you're curious about the demographic breakdown of Minneapolis Public Schools, here it is:
There are over 34,000 kids in the Minneapolis Public Schools system. Will Minnesota continue to stand by while their futures are in the hands of a system that seems incapable of significantly helping those students? Or, will the state be brave enough to save public education by changing the funding mechanism and providing each parent with the means to find schools that can actually help their kids?
In other words, tens of thousands of students need school choice. Will Minnesota give it to them?
Devin is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Charlemagne Institute, which operates Intellectual Takeout, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and the Alcuin Internship. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College where he studied history and political science. Prior to co-founding Charlemagne Institute, he served as the Director of Development at the Center of the American Experiment, a state-based think tank in Minnesota.
Devin is a contributor to local and national newspapers, a frequent guest on a variety of talk shows, such as Minneapolis' KTLK and NPR's Talk of the Nation, and regularly shares culture and education insights presenting to civic groups, schools, and other organizations. In 2011, he was named a Young Leader by the American Swiss Foundation.
Devin and his wife have been married for eighteen years and have six children. When he's not working, Devin enjoys time with family while also relaxing through reading, horticulture, home projects, and skiing and snowboarding.