Our Immense Achievement Gap: Embracing Proven Remedies While Avoiding a Race-Based Recipe for Disaster

Key Points

1.  Minnesota has a yawning academic achievement gap between white and non-white students—one of the widest in the nation.

2.  The demographic sea change that is transforming Minnesota is making this tragic gap a crisis.

3.  Research demonstrates that the most effective way to improve poor, minority children’s learning is through classroom-centered reforms that include an intense emphasis on fundamentals; targeted assessment and intervention; and a school climate that emphasizes order, high expectations and accountability.

4.  Yet four important Minnesota education policy organizations—including the Minnesota Department of Education—are promoting plans that would make racial balance in schools (and other race-based remedies) a centerpiece of attempts to reduce the learning gap. This approach, which insists on viewing children through the lens of race, has a 40-year track record of failure.

5.  These four organizations’ learning gap-related plans would have another dire consequence: By making equal academic outcomes by all racial and income groups the new standard for “equity” in Minnesota schools, they would set the State up for a catastrophic loss in the “education adequacy” lawsuit we may soon face. These suits can cost billions of dollars and/or lead to mandatory race-based busing, yet they have not reduced the learning gap in any state where plaintiffs have prevailed.

6.  We must reject these misguided plans—so adverse to the State of Minnesota’s interests–and devote our energy to providing all children with an education that works.

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