Student documentary explores media portrayals of women

This documentary explores how the media portrays women and how that affects how women see themselves. It specifically links media portrayals with body issues and eating disorders in women. Through interviews with students and professionals, the video dives into the root of the issue to discuss how everyone can work to lessen the impact of these media portrayals.This video was directed by Alaina, Maddie, Morgan and Taylor in the VOICES class of 2014-2015. VOICES stands for Values, Options, Issues and Choices Explored in Society. Students in the VOICES class create social issue documentaries with the guidance of teachers Delainia Haug and Laura Lanik and Teaching Artist/videomaker John Akre. Continue Reading

Teen Pregnancy Center keeps young mothers in school

The TAPPP, Teen Age Pregnancy and Parenting Program, is in three of the seven major public high schools in Minneapolis. The program supports teen mothers so they can continue their education.This video was directed by Shannon, Sam, Mai Lia and Lucy in the South High VOICES class of 2014-2015. VOICES stands for Values, Options, Issues and Choices Explored in Society. Students in the VOICES class create social issue documentaries with the guidance of teachers Delainia Haug and Laura Lanik and Teaching Artist/videomaker John Akre. To see all of this year’s VOICES documentaries, visit Continue Reading

Coming back to your community: A nonprofit aimed at Somali women pushes for empowerment, education

Walking through the Sabathani Community Center in Minneapolis, a long, winding hallway greets me. The lighting is dim and the walls are bare. Women of color stand in front of different doorways and little kids run around without mothers.Behind a door with no signage lies the office of Isuroon. The Twin Cities organization, founded by Fartun Weli, stands for advocacy and community outreach in Somali communities.Specifically, Weli is motivated to provide Somali women with emotional support and health resources to help ensure their success.“We just want to make sure that the struggle of first immigrant, first generation Somali women is addressed and that they have every opportunity to succeed,” Weli said. “That will also mean that the second generation will succeed.”ADDRESSING A NEEDWeli, originally from Somalia, struggled financially while growing up. Continue Reading

Generation Next’s education data reveal no surprises

We’ve heard it before: Kids of color lag behind WhitesWhen it comes to Generation Next, partnerships and outreach play a key role in their hopes-for success. “We’re kind of an opt-in effort, and the more folks you get to opt-in the greater [our] likelihood [of success is]” said Jerimiah Ellis in a previous MSR article (“Outreach director brings diversity to Generation Next team: St. Paul NAACP takes a wait-and-see approach on endorsing initiative,” Dec. 25, 2014).What plays into the success of Director of Partnerships and Outreach Jeremiah Ellis? In his own words, “I rely on Jonathan to get me the right numbers” to ensure he has the right facts and data to do his job. Continue Reading

Help sought to tackle rising tuition, student debt

A 15-year trend of rising tuition for students attending public and private colleges throughout Minnesota has captured the attention of the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee.Three themes emerged in committee discussions Tuesday and Wednesday: tuition continues to rise, enrollment has leveled off in recent years and student debt is at an all-time high. That news has many key players in post-secondary education wanting to take a closer look at how and why.On Tuesday, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler pitched to legislators the university’s $65.2 million request for state funding to cover a tuition freeze for its students over the next two years. Without a tuition freeze, university administrators predict costs will rise between $2,100 and $2,600 over four years for undergraduate students. Kaler said the freeze on tuition would “enable the core middle-class families to more easily access the university.”Last week, Senate DFL leaders unveiled SF2 that would have the state pay education costs of students who graduate from a Minnesota high school and attend two-year vocational or community colleges governed by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. No similar legislation has yet been introduced in the Republican-controlled House.Committee members have yet discuss the university’s request or the provisions outlined in SF2. Continue Reading

OPINION | Time for law enforcement to listen to criticism

The recent open letter issued by the police union presidents of Minneapolis and St. Paul (1/4/15) does not indicate a readiness to listen, but to lecture those critical of law enforcement ( Like police union leaders in New York City and elsewhere, their letter seems to make the same spurious claim that protests against police brutality and discrimination may have incited Ismaaiyl Brinsley to murder two NYPD officers.In light of protesters’ just anger over the killing of unarmed Black Americans, even suggesting such a link lacks respect for the communities that law enforcement serves. Protesters are as heartsick over the tragic death of the officers as anyone. We empathize with officers’ families who lost a loved one as we do with the families of Eric Garner or Michael Brown.The institution of policing in this country is being criticized because of its own actions, attitudes and arrogance abetted by politicians who support policing practices that daily disregards the dignity and human rights of communities of color. Continue Reading

Minnesota state, local taxes fairer than most, report finds

Minnesota’s tax structure is among the fairest in the country, according to the results of an annual analysis of state and local tax systems released today by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.The report, “Who Pays,” looks at how states generate tax revenue – and how much it costs taxpayers at different income levels.In Minnesota the wealthiest 1 percent of earners, with more than $498,000 in annual household income, pay 7.5 percent of their income, on average, in state and local taxes. That’s a lower rate than any other income bracket in the ITEP’s report, including:The rest of the top 20 percent of Minnesota earners, with household incomes between $102,000 and $498,000. On average, they pay about 8.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes.The lowest 20 percent, with less than $24,000 in annual income, who pay an average tax rate of 8.8 percent.The middle 60 percent, with earnings between $24,000 and $102,000, who pay an average tax rate of about 9.7 percent.Although middle- and low-income people in Minnesota pay more of their income in state and local taxes than the state’s highest earners, the same is true everywhere in the U.S. The good news for Minnesota is the gap between what middle- and low-income people pay and what wealthy people pay is smaller than the gap in 44 other states.In some states, the report found, the poorest 20 percent of taxpayers pay more than double the effective tax rate paid by the richest 1 percent of taxpayers. Washington is the country’s most regressive state, taxing the poorest residents at 16.8 percent and the top 1 percent at just 2.4 percent.Why does it matter if state and local taxes ding lower-income families more than upper-income ones? In addition to being a matter of basic fairness, regressive tax structures contribute to growing income inequality in the U.S., which has reached a level not seen since before the Great Depression.“In recent years, multiple studies have revealed the growing chasm between the wealthy and everyone else,” ITEP Executive Director Matt Gardner said in a press release accompanying the report. “Upside down state tax systems didn’t cause the growing income divide, but they certainly exacerbate the problem.”Why are state and local tax systems unfair across the board? According to the ITEP report, it’s mostly because these governments tend to rely more heavily on sales taxes to raise revenue than income taxes.Minnesota’s tax structure is less regressive than most other states, according to “Who Pays,” in part because of its graduated tax structure, which assesses higher rates to higher income levels. Continue Reading