Redistricting Helps, Does not Solve the Root of the Gap
Long history, complicated factors of gap make progress difficult
March 9, 2020
Even though the achievement gap may seem like an issue far away, affecting far away people, one of the cities with the largest disparity between low and high performing students is our very own Minneapolis.
This complex, multifaceted issue can be traced back to the post civil war era, where slavery became abolished, leading to many freed slaves migrating north. While it may have seemed that racism only affected the South, that is actually inaccurateññit just took a slightly different form in the North. In Minneapolis, neighborhoods created racial covenants, which eventually provided loopholes around anti-segregation laws.
These covenants would ban all except white citizens from inhabiting certain neighborhoods, leading to clustered, segregated areas all throughout Minneapolis. In addition to racial covenants, many banks refused to offer anyone other than white citizens mortgages on their houses.
This fed into the racial divide in Minneapolis, as poorer people were lumped together in neighborhoods, and eventually into poorer performing schools because of the lack of tax funding from the respective neighborhoods. This created a large divide between higher and lower performing schools that corresponds to the socioeconomic backgrounds of the taxpayers from each district.
There is a wide variety of proposed solutions to this issue, many of which are being discussed throughout Minnesota Public School Districts. Schools have started looking into redistributing which neighborhoods will feed into which schools in order to desegregate the schools and even out their funding.
While I think that this is a good start to try and solve this issue, many people will be dissatisfied with switching from their preferred school to the newly-designated school. Another solution would be to try and integrate each neighborhood more, but this proves difficult as people do not always have the financial means to move or would like to move, in order to change around the school districts.
Working at the source of the problem, the neighborhoods, may eventually solve the problem, but is made very difficult because of gentrification. If the neighborhoods that feed into lower-performing schools are gentrified, many of the families will be unable to afford their homes, leading to the problem being moved elsewhere, or the students having lower performance from stress in their home life. This is another facet of the issue, as children with unstable homes will often perform lower academically.
The achievement gap is a very serious issue in Minneapolis, as it affects the whole population and the future leaders of the city. Children are not given equal opportunities at different schools, due to the lack of funding, segregation, bad home situations, and school placement, leading to a growth in the disparity between childrenís academic performances.
There is not one good solution for an issue of this volume, which proves it very hard to try and mitigate. Without the openness to change from all families and people, this problem will be near-impossible to solve, but with cooperation and new, innovative ideas, I believe that this problem can be solved and an equal, free education can be possible for all students in Minneapolis.