Minneapolis public schools must compete with charter schools for students.
Twelve years after America’s first charter school opened in Minnesota, parents in Minneapolis face a daunting smorgasbord of options. In addition to private and parochial options, there are 17 charter schools (with seven more to open in the fall), open enrollment that allows students to hop districts, and a complex system of magnet and neighborhood public schools.
. . . While many urban districts struggle to retain white, middle-class families, Minneapolis is also losing low-income, minority ones, primarily to charter schools. It’s led to an enrollment crisis for the district, which loses state money with each departing student, and now has 800 surplus classrooms. But many observers point out that this is exactly how choice is supposed to work: better options for individual students, and a competitive educational landscape that may, in the end, force all the schools to improve.
To attract students, the district is trying to expand pre-school and all-day kindergarten programs and add “gender- and culture-specific schools, performing arts specialities, and dual-immersion language programs.” The district is looking for ways to narrow a huge achievement gap between black and white students.