Jana sits down with Minneapolis Public School Superintendent Ed Graff to talk about the Comprehensive Design Plan:
Jana: As of today, is it the Comprehensive Plan set in stone?
Graff: No. There is a lot of misinformation out there about where the district will end up with this plan.
Jana: What is the community school model?
Graff: The notion of starting with a community school model was to bring back the focus of a community around a school attendance area or boundary.
Jana: Will families have to stay in their community school?
Graff: No, they won’t have to but there is also work that is going to be happening through our placement protocols so figuring out what those thresholds are for families, how much access are we going to be able to provide for families across the city in terms of choice.
Jana: Perhaps a lot of people are upset about what they have seen so far because they don’t trust you as a district?
Graff: Yes, I hear that as well. (We are) really wanting to try and establish that trust and be intentional about what we are saying and what we are going to do and then following through with that, and with this comprehensive design there is that risk, you know, that we will not meet the level of expectation that people have around what we are saying and doing.
It’s a two-way commitment though. It can’t be enough for just the district to say we want to ensure that we are reaching out to you and we are doing that, we have to have people wanting to commit to engaging with these conversations as well.
Jana: In the first iteration of the study, didn’t it say that 63% of students in K-8 will change schools?
Graff: If you took the first study and said take where you are right now, as elementary and bring you back to this defined area of your school community 63% students would move location, in terms of schools, but we didn’t have magnets factored in yet.
Jana: On the data about graduation rates being different for students of color vs. white students in 2018?
Graff: It’s absolutely not okay. I think a piece I want to help people understand is if you are one of those kids who is not represented in those graduation rates and achievement rates, that’s unacceptable. If you are parent of that child it’s unacceptable and it’s incumbent on us to change that.
Jana: A criticism of this plan is the district has bitten off more than it can chew?
Graff: We are putting a lot on the table.
Jana: What if you are wrong?
Graff: What if I am wrong, what’s the alternative? We are talking about the trajectory of the lives of all of our students in the district.
Jana: So there will be some painful truths here?
Graff: Absolutely there is risk, there’s risk in this comprehensive design but what I will say is I can see the risk being far greater if we do nothing and that’s part of why we are doing this work.