Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Shifting away from the subversive narrative that teachers are tireless martyrs for inner-city youth

Violent. Aggressive. To be tamed. These are terms often used to describe animals and at times even criminals. Yet, in a recent City Pages article Distrust and Disorder: “A Racial Equity Policy Summons Chaos” in the St. Paul Schools, the nomenclature used to describe students was as such. They were not described as children or the developing youth, but as violent delinquents. Whose students were these? What school was this? These were certainly not my scholars, nor was it an accurate depiction of my work climate in a North Minneapolis school.

It is universally agreed that education, racial equity and discipline in public schools is a complex national conversation. Let’s be clear: Public schools were never designed to serve this diverse of an array of students. What was once intended to churn out obedient industrial workers is now charged with preparing scholars for college and competition in a globalized workforce. In this respect alone, a massive overhaul is long overdue. As I read on, the article proved to be the same old, oversimplified narrative: Inner-city students are violent, unintelligent thugs, and teachers in these schools are tireless martyrs trying to save students from themselves…and poverty…and their community…and…you get the point. Continue Reading

Ward nine residents packed Friday's city council meeting

City moves forward with water yard site in Phillips

In a 10- 3 vote, Minneapolis city council members decided to move forward with acquiring the former Roof Depot site for a city owned water treatment facility, despite neighborhood opposition. Council members Johnson, Gordon and Cano voted against it. Members of the Phillips community, where the site would be located, say the proposed facility is yet another industrial site in a neighborhood plagued with pollution and environmental justice concerns. See the story in Monday’s Daily Planet for more background. There was a brief discussion about adopting an amendment put forth by ward nine council member Alondra Cano, which would have required city staff and departments to work with community members when developing the site. Continue Reading

Phillips neighbors oppose new Water Yard site

People in the Phillips neighborhoods of Minneapolis are incensed about a new proposed water-maintenance site (or, a water yard) they say will add to the pollution of the area. Seeing little promise of new jobs from the new site, neighbors will be packing the Ways and Means committee meeting of the City Council on Monday to urge council members to vote no on allowing city staff to enter into negotiations over purchasing the property. “Phillips has been dumping grounds and forget-me-nots of polluters for several years now,” says Jose Luis Villasenor, the Executive Director of the local nonprofit Tamales y Bicicletas. He’s been a resident of East Phillips for 19-20 years. “We have been working with the community and local stakeholders about how to get rid of the polluters.”

The community group East Phillips Improvement Coalition (EPIC) had two realizations when it came to the site, Villasenor said. Continue Reading

Drivers license bill stalls as session ends

Much-awaited legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses (HF97) was shot down in the House Transportation Committee as the 2015 legislative session hurtled to a close.  All House Republicans voted against incorporating the language into legislation at a 5-5 vote. “The bill is included in a transportation bill, and the only thing that the house has to do is to agree with the bill that is being proposed by the Senate. The House simply has no excuse not to do this this year. They made a commitment last year. Continue Reading

Leslie Ann Crosby spoke about her four hour a day commute

Transit time hinders upward mobility

Community members, along with leadership from Neighbors Organizing for Change (NOC), Take Action Minnesota, ISAIAH, and several State representatives presented the report It’s About Time: The Transit Time Penalty and Its Racial Implications, which was written by The Center for Popular Democracy, along with additional assistance from local partners. It highlights the racial disparities in the transit system and adds that extra time spent on commuting actually hinders people’s ability to lift themselves out of poverty. Anthony Newby, the executive director of Neighbors Organizing for Change, cited, “the need for more and better funding to get to the heart of racial disparity in transit.” All public transit users spend more time than drivers on their commute alone, but black and Latino transit users spend the equivalent of 3.5 weeks of work more than white drivers on their commute. A May 7th New York Times article reported that commuting time is the single strongest factor that changes the odds of escaping poverty. Continue Reading

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High rates of teen pregnancy among Minnesota’s Asian girls

[Chart from Department of Health and Human Services.]

Compared to American overall teen pregnancy rates, Asian girls have much higher teen pregnancy rate. Here are facts which may contribute to higher teen pregnancy rate among Asian girls in Minnesota. Here are some facts which may contribute to higher teen pregnancy among sian girls in Minnesota:

According to the report from CDC, Minnesota teens have a higher rate of LARC use than the national average. Also, the access to go to health care provider, and the use of effective birth control methods, including IUDs, and the implants, these may affect the teen pregnancy rate among Asian girls in Minnesota. All adolescents, but especially youth of color, need comprehensive and culturally competent sexual and reproductive health care. Continue Reading

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Tackling achievement gap for American Indian students

Before the first class bell rings on Monday mornings, students at Nay Ah Shing High School gather to participate in a tradition that was instituted long before they were born. “Pipe and Dish” sets the tone for students and staff at the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe-run school in Onamia. The ceremony allows participants to “offer” tobacco and food to the Creator to ask for help in their studies and work in the days ahead. The morning ritual serves as a symbolic opportunity for students and staff to recognize the cultural roots the school was founded on 40 years ago. But Nay Ah Shing’s emphasis on its American Indian culture is not limited to the “Pipe and Dish” offering, according to Suzanne Wise, education commissioner for the Mille Lacs Band. Continue Reading

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Where is the equity audit for the Vikings Stadium?

Unlike the Twins and Gophers stadiums that had few minority workers, it was promised that this time there would be significant hiring of Twin Cities African Americans and the legislature would audit it, providing an annual review, audit, and certification. Instead, the Legislative auditor is not doing the equity category employment audits… Continue Reading

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Searching for shared truths on teaching and race

After 25 years of teaching in Minneapolis with predominately all-white teachers and administrations, one day, I realized it got down to this …

If I never saw a white person again, especially a white woman, it would be too soon! Continue Reading