Monday, October 11, 2010

Can North High be Saved?

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from Minnesota Public Radio.

Since the Star Tribune broke the story about the Minneapolis superintendent proposing the closure of North High, a rally has already been scheduled for tomorrow night's school board meeting.  A robust discussion is occurring on the Minneapolis Issues Forum.  I encourage readers to check it out and contribute to the dialogue there.  However, the Issues Forum has its limitations.  Only two comments per 24 hours are allowed, and one cannot comment anonymously.  So I'm offering up the NXNS site for a such a dialogue if folks wish to do so here.

This is quite the conundrum.  North High is reportedly the oldest continually functioning high school in all of Minneapolis (although not always out of its current location).  It boasts quite a few famous graduates (we'll forgive them for letting Sid Hartman get a degree).  And yet, despite everything it ought to have going for it, only 42 students enrolled in the freshman class.  The current proposal allows for these 42 to remain until graduation, but I can't see that happening.  If I were a freshman and the school were closing, I know I'd want to transfer somewhere else.

We can cry and holler all we want, but at the end of the day it's that number that's the most significant factor at play.  A school of this size simply cannot function with so few students entering its doors each year.  On the Issues Forum, some very pertinent questions get raised...

...such as "What good is moving the MPS HQ to north Minneapolis if there are no schools left?"  And frankly, if we're just going to shut down a school, why do we even need to spend taxpayer money on a new building?  Let's just have them move in at 1500 James if it comes to that.

Two of the main factors that Forum readers attribute to the school's decline are the closure of several middle schools in north Minneapolis, as well as the NAACP lawsuit resulting in the Choice is Yours.  The latter item sounded good, but if we're spending tax dollars to bus our kids away from local schools and they're not performing any better, and the decline in enrollment leads to the closure of more and more neighborhood schools...well, then it just seems like one of those things we pave the road to hell with.

Not only that, but I'm sure we'll find plenty of people calling upon our elected officials to save North High - as well they should.  But where are these neighbors' children attending school?  If we're not sending our own kids to our local high school, what gives us the right to demand that it be kept open?  On the other hand, why should a parent send their child to anything less than the best school they can?  Wouldn't you want your kid to have the greatest opportunities possible at their fingertips when they graduate?  If North High doesn't give that to enough children, why should parents just have their kids go anyway?

Even so, the loss of a school in the neighborhood is going to make it that much harder to attract or retain quality homeowners.  There are two things that are primary contributors to the desirability of a neighborhood:  the quality of its housing stock and access to amenities.  A vibrant school system is one of the top amenities homeowners look for.

So if 42 students per year isn't enough to justify keeping North High open, then what will it take to boost enrollment numbers?


  1. And I may as well get this out of the way first. I'm not going to publish any "burn it down" foolishness. That was an extraordinarily poor choice of words, but CM Samuels has apologized numerous times. Get over it, people. That's played out and worse yet, bringing it up repeatedly brings us no closer to a solution.

    Now, if anyone has specific and substantive things that they believe CM Samuels has done or failed to do that have led us to this point, I'll publish those, even if I disagree.

    Finding out more history of North High is important and interesting, but I'm really hoping any reader contributions will include ideas for possible solutions as well.

  2. I think Samuels should be commended for being the first leader brave enough to call it like it is. He said North High (and other schools) were failing the task of educating our children, specifically black boys, and he said the taxpayers are paying to NOT educate them, then the taxpayers are paying again to police, prosecute, rehabilitate them in the corrections system, and often times someone is paying with their life. I'm paraphrasing his elaboration a bit but basically he was right, the whole big picture is a failure and it should be broken down to square one and started over. That's what he meant by "burn it down". The outrage needs to be placed at the failed system and the failed parents, not a leader who is brave enough to point out the failure when it's not the politically correct thing to do, but it is the morally correct thing to do.

  3. Two words: Marva Collins

    Oh, one more: Google

  4. This whole issue caught me off guard and makes me realize how isolated I am in my taxpayer underwater mortgage home. What I think needs to happen is recreating a new model for high schools in Minneapolis. As I understand the German model. Kids when they are in the 8th grade, or you could tweak it, decide are they on the liberal arts track, or the technical, apply my education to the current technical needs of science and industry track.

  5. They closed West,Marshall and Central High schools back in the early eighties and tore down two of them,Central and West.This was about three years after the big decision was made to build brand spanking new gymnasiums adjacent to them.What a boondoggle decision that was.Anyhow, they ended up utilizing the gyms that they had wasted our tax payer dollars on for it's true intended use.Fast forward to the 21st century and consider the decision to build the Harry Davis Jr. academy on Glenwood avenue in NORTH MINNEAPOLIS and shut it down for it's planned intended purpose...and there it sits while they wasted our taxpaying dollars while it just...sits there.Some say use the soon to be ABANDONED North High building(face reality folks,abandonment is a dish that we have been served at the table of discussion for years)and the decision is full steam ahead to build another structure because...well because we specialize in style over substance and common sense.I will suggest that if North closes it's doors that the powers that be are required to move into one of the ABANDONED buildings.... now about the kids..... oh, ABANDONED.

  6. Answer:No
    Reason: Not worth saving.


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