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MN & WI schools both recognized for academic excellence, but only WI schools recognized for progress on closing achievement gaps

 

The U.S. Department of Education recognized 349 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2018. Schools across the country received the award based on overall academic excellence, with several also being recognized for exemplary progress in closing achievement gaps.

Seven traditional public schools and one magnet school were recognized in Minnesota, but none of them made the list for showing “exemplary” closure in academic disparities between student subgroups. Despite Minnesota’s overall strong academic performance on national tests, the state has one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation. A lawsuit recently ordered by the Minnesota Supreme Court to be reconsidered by the state Court of Appeals attributes this academic inequity to Minnesota teachers’ union tenure protections.

Education Minnesota, the state’s teachers’ union, opposes the case, arguing “everyone benefits” with “due process protections like tenure.”

Since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision on Janus v. AFSCME in June, Education Minnesota has been actively messaging the “need” for unions to prevent Minnesota from “turning into Wisconsin” where public-sector union membership declined after the state’s collective bargaining laws were changed.

Like Minnesota, Wisconsin faces a significant academic achievement gap, but eight schools in Wisconsin also received the 2018 National Blue Ribbon award. In addition, six of the eight were recognized as “exemplary achievement gap closing schools,” compared to none of Minnesota’s.

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