April 10, 2016
Locally operated, nationally organized education reform “harbormaster” MN Comeback is holding its first-ever “relevance working group” on April 11, according to a recent report in MinnPost (caution: both MinnPost and MN Comeback are funded by the Minneapolis and Bush Foundations).
MN Comeback is a well oiled arm of the national reform outfit, Education Cities; Education Cities, in turn, receives its marching orders and paychecks from a cohort of billionaire philanthropists via the Gates, Walton, Broad and Dell foundations. (The recent MinnPost article, however, makes no mention of this, and instead paints MN Comeback as nothing more than an organic, grassroots gathering of respected local folks, such as R.T. Rybak.)
MN Comeback is built around a suggestive tagline: “30,000 rigorous, relevant seats by 2025.” Problem is, the people behind MN Comeback have yet to figure out what a “relevant” seat looks like. They’ve got the “rigorous” part down, of course, because rigor=test scores and “college and career ready” coursework. (Follow MN Comeback’s money trail to see this in action: the group just gave $250,000 to the sketchy, interim test-generating “leadership” group called Achievement Now.)
But the relevance? That’s dicier, because “relevance” is harder to wrangle onto a spreadsheet and bar graph. MN Comeback executive director, Al Fan, describes the situation this way, in the MinnPost piece:
“We know it’s a lot of things to different people, but it should include something around cultural relevance, social-emotional skill building, 21st century skills; it may include something around behavior, teacher retention, community support,” he said. “But we don’t have any of those measures yet, so we need to develop them. Our work is around ‘How do we define it in a way that we can measure it and use it to really fine tune how we define great schools?’
Notice how “relevance” is never about having stable housing, safe neighborhoods or access to comprehensive social services? But I digress. Fan and his MN Comeback crew could probably learn a lot about relevance by checking out a new recess petition, put out by Minneapolis parents. The petition is less than 48 hours old, and already has close to 850 signatures.
The petition makes this demand, and it incorporates the need for an actual lunch time for kids:
We are asking the Board of Education of the Minneapolis Public Schools System to enact a policy that ensures every child in K-8 receives a daily minimum of 30 minutes of unstructured, safe, supervised recess time, prior to a 30 minute lunch period. Recess is not a substitute for time spent in Physical Education classes, nor may this time be taken away from students as punishment for behavioral issues.
I would like all children to have a minimum of 1 hour & hopefully this is a step in the right direction!!
In Finland, highly acclaimed for their education system, kids get 15 minutes of exercise/outdoor time per hour! My son has ASD and the lack of outdoor time severely impacts his ability to focus and learn. The trade offs are not worth it.
I have a toddler who I will be sending to MPS in a few years and I’d like to know he’ll have more than 13 minutes to play outside!
As a 5th grade teacher, I know that it is absolutely in the best interest of students to give them time to run, play, and talk with their peers.
I teach kindergarten in Minneapolis. My kids need more time to run and play for their physical and mental health.
Kids learn better when they are able to be active!!! You want better test scores? Give them adequate time for recess! Look at Farmington’s research on physical activity and improved test scores.
I know if my kids don’t run around for at least 30 minutes a day I can’t even handle them as their mother. How are teachers supposed to do their job if they’re trying to control a class filled with pent-up energy? We’re failing our teachers and our kids by limiting their recess to 15 minutes.
There is a heap of research showing how much young minds need unstructured time and movement to help facilitate learning. Also, we all need to move – especially younger kids.
If a recess (and lunch) petition gathers 1,000 signatures, how should we measure its relevance?
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