by Wayne Wenger
A small group of teachers presented a manifesto to the Edina School Board at the last meeting, May 21. Teachers wanted to continue the divisive, failed “All for All” program in our schools. I have included at the end of this article the resolution submitted by representatives of the teachers to the School Board. The School Board will meet June 18 to discuss it. I do not support this resolution.
Whether you agree with me, or not, please let the school board know your thoughts before June 18, 2018. To email all the Edina School Board members, use this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What follows are my personal opinions.
I ask the Edina School Board not to continue the “All for All” program. The goal of Edina Public Schools should be academic excellence. Students should be taught how to think, not what to think. I am sure that the teachers are sincere, but their ivory tower racial focus does not reflect that of the Edina community. “All for All” has polarized and divided our school and community like nothing else in my 40 years in Edina. I ask for you to give “All for All” a time out.
“All for All” has not worked and test results show it. Consider:
• MCA math test scores of South View Middle School 8th grade students was ranked first in 2008 and now ranks 37th .
• MCA math test scores of EHS 11th grade students ranked 2nd in 2008 and now ranks as the 13th.
• MCA math and reading test scores for black and African American students have declined during the “All for All” program. Initially only 30% were proficient in math. This has declined to 14.6% proficient in math. Reading results initially showed 51.7% proficient, but this has declined to 40% proficient. These results are unacceptable and have been getting worse.
• The PreAP English 10 class taught by Jackie Roehl has been at the center of the “Social Justice” program. The required readings for this class are written at a 2nd to 5th grade level of language complexity (measured by their lexile scores). Dumbing down the academic standards is not the answer.
• A student testified in front of the school board that she was intimidated during the PreAP English 10 class and went to another school for her senior year.
• Increasing participation by students of color in Advanced Placement is nice, but insufficient to make the case that “All for All” should continue.
(Proposed) EDINA SCHOOL BOARD RESOLUTION
REAFFIRMING COMMITMENT TO “ALL FOR ALL” PLAN AND STRATEGIC DIRECTION
WHEREAS, the mission of the Edina Public Schools, ISD 272 “working in partnership with the community,” is “to educate all individuals to be responsible, lifelong learners who possess the skills, knowledge, creativity, sense of self-worth, and ethical values necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing culturally diverse, global society”; and
WHEREAS, following an intensive strategic planning and revision process involving community members and school staff, the Edina School Board unanimously adopted the “All for All” plan in 2013 with a goal of closing opportunity and achievement gaps based on race and income; and
WHEREAS, the “All for All” plan was updated in June of 2014 to include a statement on Racial Equity and Cultural Competence in Edina Public Schools, which includes the commitment of “looking at all district work and initiatives through a lens of racial equity so that all students will have the skills, opportunities and access to experiences that will lead them to help reach their full potential and achieve academic success”; and
WHEREAS, since the adoption of the “All for All” plan, the district has made strides in closing opportunity and achievement gaps based on race and income including but not limited to increases in participation in Advanced Placement classes by students of color; and;
WHEREAS, we reject clams that the district’s commitment to equity comes at the expense of academic excellence; and
WHEREAS, individual teachers employed by the district have experienced intense public criticism, hostility, and threats because of their work in support of the district’s equity mission, and have at times felt concerned for their physical safety; and
WHEREAS, the Edina School Board remains committed to the academic success of all students, which requires ensuring that all students have a safe and welcoming learning environment and all staff have a safe and supportive working environment;
NOW THEREFORE, the School Board of the Edina School District reaffirms its support for the “All for All” plan and statement on Racial Equity and Cultural Competence.