All around the country, caregivers and their children are entering school choice season. Here in Minneapolis, the deadline to request a school is Feb. 7. Whether it be a preschool, elementary, middle or high school, the decision can feel overwhelming. In a society that places great value on choice, we can feel pulled to try to find the "best school," and to make sure we've explored every last option for making a decision. Family, neighbors and friends are quick to give us their opinions on what school will be “best.”
But what role do our values play in that decision? In a city that is deeply segregated due to a history of racial covenants and redlining, where the opportunity gap between White students and students of color is one of the worst in the nation, we need to be intentional about how we engage in our educational system.
School choice is a great place to start.
Integrated Schools (https://integratedschools.org/) is growing a grassroots movement of, by and for parents who are intentionally, joyfully and humbly enrolling their children in integrating schools. A national organization with an active Minneapolis chapter, we are working to encourage caregivers with race or class privilege to re-think the dominant narratives around school choice. One way to do this is for caregivers to take the “two tour pledge,” committing to tour at least two global majority schools where the student population is majority Black, Brown or Indigenous and / or receive educational benefits (free or reduced price meals). This pledge also calls us to show up to these schools with an open heart and open mind, not as consumers expecting to be wooed. The image above provides additional ideas for how to show up on these tours.
So, what does this mean in our highly segregated city? In Minneapolis, only 37% of students are White and 57% receive educational benefits. Yet few of our schools reflect these percentages. One of the district’s primary strategies for integrating our schools has been to focus on magnets. The district currently has eight elementary magnet schools, two middle school magnets, two PK-8 magnet schools, one citywide high school and a district-wide K-12 online school.
To learn more about the school choices available in Minneapolis, visit exploremps.org.
We ask that caregivers carefully consider what values you are bringing to the school choice process, and to tour at least two global majority schools with respect for the students, parents and educators in those buildings.
If you’d like to explore how to center integration in your school choice process, we invite you to join us for an information session and conversation about school choice on Jan. 8 from 8-9:30 p.m. on Zoom. To register, visit https://tinyurl.com/ISMplsJan23.
If you’d like to get more involved in the local Integrated Schools Chapter or have questions, please email us at email@example.com.
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