The Minneapolis School Board and Dave Jennings, the temporary Superintendent, plan to close a dozen schools in a quick vote with secret data and no public input into the plan. It seems that all small neighborhood schools are affected. Note: Solutions to public school problems. NOTE: Most of the schools were closed, look for land deals to surface sometime in 2007. Update: Some parcels have been sold, but the economy crash has dropped the prices. The land will go for a pittance.
Aside from disrupting the education of thousands of students by concentrating them in large medium security holding facilities a big side effect is that a DOZEN CLEAN, MULTI-ACRE PROPERTIES will be available for development, many located next to parks and recreation facilities.
NOTE: No plan is available to the public for the disposal of these properties. Properties and the expected TIF money to develop them can be estimated in hundreds of millions of dollars. Who profits from the schools selling off the land?
Also interesting is that Dave Jennings has a classic revolving door past. He served as Republican Speaker of the House, headded the MN Department of Commerce, the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce and some conservative businesses as a "vice president". He was a supporter of the public school destroying charter school laws that allow substandard facilities, lesser standards, unlicensed staff and lax financial oversight for charter schools to "privatize" public school resources and tax money. The big propaganda lie that the city system is "over capacity at 50,000 students and enrollment is dropping so we must consolidate to larger facilities." Many studies show that large facilities make cheaper, worse education and the public, faced with a choice of smaller schools and classes from subsidized charter schools or a massive junior prison public facility will pick the smaller more intimate environment where they have a better chance of participating in their child's education and have a sense of community.
The fact is that low standard "charter schools" are allowed to take enrollment of cream of the student crop with no accountability, not having to meet Federal "Leave no child behind" standards and getting tax breaks, public grants and tax money with the aim of destroying the city public school systems that must educate all the problem students.
Jennings downfall was not that he is destroying the schools and selling land, no, he got greedy and tried to engineer an illegal appointment of himself as Superintendent of the Minneapolis Public (MPLS) Schools, got sued by North Side citizens groups for impropriety and illegal process and was quickly dumped as a political hot potato. He is now looking for another job, possibly with another developer lobby like the Chamber of Commerce. UPDATE 2006: Jennings was able to fool some suburban cousins, he is working for a school district in the republican exurbs, bringing more great scams and stupidity to School District 112, Chaska. One can hardly wait to see how much "exercise equipment pyramid schemes" old district 112 buys, or snake oil, or when it sells its school properties to developer "friends".
The privatization of public school land and resources looks like a classic theft of public resources by business "privateers". The competency and ability of school board members business acumen is questionable, so out of touch were they as to try to appoint David Jennings with illegal actions. The policy of creating large facility junior prisons will destroy the public school system. The destruction of public education is already being plotted by the pirate privatizers, we do not need the school boards and staff to help the process.
When the Federal "Leave no Child Behind" attacks and closes the large school facilities there will be large disruptions to the system that will drive enrollment down. The school board should have gone the other way, created many smaller schools that will give better education and create many more targets that can be shifted and reconstituted with smaller disruption to the public system.
In Minneapolis and Saint Paul the school boards have many other options, they should use political pressure and lawsuits to force charter schools to have the same horrible standards applied to them as to the public schools, from Federal "Leave no Child Behind" oversite to staff standards to health and safety and accessibility of facilities. They could transport the entire district, 40,000 students plus staff to the capital and demand the money they need. They could get the rest of the districts to do the same and shut down the government. But no, the supposed DFL school board members are too timid to get the funding needed and instead will do the dirty work for the greed heads that are behind the charter school privatization of the public resources by hiring recycled republican hatchet men like Dave Jennings whose only solutions are to create an institutional system that mimics prisons for the underclass. Jennings real purpose seems to be a tool to drive public resources to a bunch of flimflam crony capitalists. In a couple years these large public institutions will be too weak to defend themselves, stripped of students, public land and the public resources they need to operate. The tax payers will be getting education from a bunch of unregulated, unsupervised, low standard "charter schools". However, the overclass will continue to send its children to expensive long established private schools and a solid class system will be created in Minnesota.
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