St. Paul to Give Struggling Schools a Boost

On Sunday, September 25th, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported how St. Paul Public Schools are “looking to give its struggling schools a boost.” In the article Mila Koumpilova goes on to explain how “instead of distributing money to the schools based on enrollment numbers, Minnesota’s second-largest district is forging new territory by factoring in demographics and performance of students in the district’s roughly 70 schools and programs. The goal is to give schools that face the highest hurdles extra resources to help them catch up.”

Do you think this plan is a sound idea? Does the district have a responsibility to fund schools based on their needs? If this plan is followed through, my guess is there will be quite a few upset parents who want what is best for their children. Is this still a responsible decision for the district to make?

Although my knowledge of school policy is limited, I do believe that children deserve an equal start in life or an education that is comparable to other children.

As a former St. Paul teacher, I was always amazed at the inequities that exist between the district’s schools and these inequities pale between the differences between district to district and between state to state. Children in our country do not have access to an equal education. These inequities go back to the time of our Constitution, which did not include education and therefore is a power reserved for the states. Wealthier districts have a greater tax base to support education than poorer districts and if a financially secure neighborhood wants their school to have something new, they can often find ways to raise the money that are not possible in a poorer district.

Will the St. Paul School District decision help to provide greater equity between schools and is this a decision that should not only be made in St. Paul, but a decision that should be made nationwide?

Please offer any insights or opinions you have regarding this decision.

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October 1, 2011. Uncategorized.

2 Comments

  1. Robert I. Fink, MD replied:

    Sometimes we have to let go of our own personal desires for the better good of society and this is one of those cases. I am sure that parents in wealthier districts are going to balk at the decision made by the St. Paul School District, and it is somewhat understandable- having bought houses in specific areas in order to have their kids go to certain schools known to have better facilities and staff. However, a quick look around will show that we are moving more and more into a society of the haves and have nots, which is clearly not what the founders of our country had in mind. It is those who have who will oppose the St. Paul plan and their opposition will only fuel the growing fires of unrest in those not so fortunate. There are always other educational choices in the private sector for those parents with the means and desire to utilize these options.
    It seems to me that providing equal educational opportunities to all students, regardless of their social and economic reality, is the obligation of the public trust. I applaud the St. Paul School District’s bold and courageous decision and hope that others will follow suit. Our children are our future.
    Robert I Fink, MD. Everett, WA

  2. Gordon Decker, Chaska, MN replied:

    As we teach our students, fair is not always equal, and equal is not always fair. An Incredulity of No Child Left Behind is that failing schools are “encouraged” to improve with financial penalties. The needier receive less funding, while the higher achieving receive more. The demographics that St. Paul Schools are factoring correlate closely with the results that contribute to “failing” schools. By striving for equity in funding instead of equal funding, St. Paul is suggesting a reversal of the No Child Left Behind philosophy. I think it’s a courageous move, I applaud those responsible, and I look forward to learning of the results of this forward-thinking new philosophy.

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