Six years after Minneapolis schools broke the iron grip of seniority in filling teaching positions, the disparity in teacher experience remains as wide as ever, with the least-experienced teachers still concentrated at the city’s high-poverty schools.
At Bethune Elementary on the North Side, nearly two-thirds of the teaching staff is in its first five years of teaching. The average experience among teachers there has dropped from 18 years to nine, making it one of four high-poverty elementary or K-8 schools where the staff averages fewer than 10 years of experience. The 44-teacher school has absorbed 28-plus new teachers in the last six years.
Bethune and schools like it are a tough places to learn on the job. All of Bethune’s kids are from families of limited-enough incomes to qualify for lunch subsidies, and student turnover is high.
“You are thrown into the most difficult environment when you are fresh out of school,” said Mauri Melander, a second-year principal at Lucy Laney, a K-8 school in north Minneapolis.