Minnesota’s revision of the Integration Rules drew a full house at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) last week for two days of intense testimony. MREA joined a group of articulate and passionate testifiers ranging from law professors, high school students and advocates to parents, teachers and administrators. Among the issues raised were:
- Should the primary goal be achievement or integration?
- Why are charters included when they were not listed in the statute? Did MDE exceed their statutory authority by including charters?
- If parents and children of a specific race or culture choose to form and attend a charter school in which they are welcome, feel at-home, and are achieving, is that a “highly segregated school” in the historical meaning of the term?
- If schools with 20% or more of protected students (children of color) have to write a plan and have extra accountability and schools with 20% or more white student do not, isn’t that an expression of continued white privilege in itself? Learn more on controversies as reported by the Star Tribune.
The proposed new rule requires school districts and charter schools which enroll over 20 percent of protected students (American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic and Black) to create a plan with measurable goals for academic growth or attainment, racial and economic integration. Schools eligible include those required to submit plans and contiguous districts which may join a collaborative with the required district. Collaboratives are voluntary. View the Proposed Rules
Eligible districts and charters (both required and included via collaboratives) are eligible for $350 for each protected student and $10 for every student on a 70 percent aid-30 percent levy split. Districts that were eligible in the current rule and eligible in the proposed rule are held harmless and receive the same or increased funding. Unfortunately districts eligible in the current rule and who are not eligible in the proposed rule or are eligible but unable to join a collaborative receive no funding. View the revenue impact on your district.
MDE began the hearing with the presentation of their Statement of Need and Reasonableness [SONAR].
MREA’s AMI Advisory Committee testified in support of the need and reasonableness of including American Indian (AMI) students in the proposed rule, and for districts to consult with AMI parent committees in designing and implementing plans. Both MREA Executive Director Fred Nolan and retiring Carlton Superintendent Peter Haapala testified in support of the rule and asked for three additions:
- A definition of economic integration
- Funding protection for eligible districts who gear up to implement a plan and then fall under the 20 percent threshold. Potentially entire collaboratives could lose funding and have to disassemble programs and break trust with students, parents and tribes.
- Funding protection for districts eligible under the current rule and not the proposed rule. They willingly changed their programming at the request of the state, and now they lose all funding because the state changed its mind? That looks arbitrary.
For the text of Fred Nolan’s testimony which was submitted in writing as well. View MREA’s written testimony.
Peter summed up the first day of the hearing by beginning his testimony thanking all who had assembled and testified for the “interesting education they all provided” on the issues. He went on to thank all who had worked to get the rule to this point and who would continue to work on the issue for the good of kids.
Anyone wishing to submit written testimony can do so prior to 4:30 pm January 27 by email to firstname.lastname@example.org . In the subject line reference OAH #651300-32227, Achievement and Integration Rule. Testimony will be posted as it arrives on the MDE website under Active Rulemaking–Integration Rules.