OPINION | AGH initiative promises to finally close MN Achievement Gap

Satire is sometimes the best way for a writer to make a point, especially on topics that are simply so foolish as to invite a little constructive ridicule. Such is the case for the following commentary by MSR’s editor-in-chief. It originates from a conversation we had one day in the editorial department about the bewildering variety of people and programs popping up left and right promising to fix the infamous Achievement Gap between Black and White students. There were literally hundreds of initiatives with nearly as many different approaches to the problem. It seemed absurdly complicated. Continue Reading

Northside Achievement Zone hiring mostly Northsiders, nontraditional approach seeks workers already ‘connected to the Zone’

Lucretia Gill is a connector. She talks to families with children in North Minneapolis to determine their family’s goals, and then she connects them to the organizations that can address the challenges hindering them from reaching their goals.Last year, Gill was a personal care attendant (PCA). She now works for an organization that has added 42 new positions over the past year — 32 of them filled by Northsiders — to the North Minneapolis job market.Gill had previously been one among the hundreds of families in North Minneapolis that the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) is charged with reaching. Through NAZ, her son had attended a childcare facility that prepared him for kindergarten through a Race to the Top scholarship. Her other three children attend NAZ anchor schools within the Zone, the geographical boundaries of the city that NAZ works within.“I came in contact with NAZ through my children’s school at Harvest Prep,” Gill explains. Continue Reading

Mental Health First Aid provides the needed skills for responding to mental health crises

First aid and CPR classes have been taught across the nation for years now, giving people with no medical training lifesaving skills in the event of a medical crisis. People suffering from mental health problems can pose a life-threatening crisis as well.The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota offers lay people a class called Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) that will give them the skills needed to respond in cases of a mental-health crisis.“In a similar way to how regular first aid teaches people BAC (breathing, airway and circulation), in mental health first aid there’s an acronym ALGEE. It stands for assess for risk of suicide or harm, listen non-judgmentally, get appropriate information and support, encourage appropriate professional help, and encourage appropriate self-help,” explains Anna McLafferty, the course instructor.MHFA has been taught in the Minnesota for just a little over two years now. The concept originated in Australia, and in 2009 the National Council on Behavioral Health brought it to the U.S. It is now being offered as a 12-hour course.The class gives students an overview of mental health problems prevalent in the U.S., the mental health first-aid action plan, and familiarizes students with ALGEE by explaining different mental-health concerns. The conversation begins with depression, since it is the most common mental-health concern, focusing on the “A” in ALGEE: Assess for suicide or harm.“The risk of suicide is going to be elevated for anyone who lives with a mental illness,” McLafferty explains. Continue Reading

Most agree MCTC needs more faculty of color: The disagreements are over how many, and how best to attract and keep them

In last week’s story, one former and two current faculty members questioned MCTC’s commitment to creating a diverse faculty. What may contribute to a lack of confidence in the college’s efforts is that while these and other concerned faculty members envision a faculty that reflects their student body, the college’s administration, under criteria set by the overall Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, has no obligation to create such an environment.Second in a series. Last week: Students of color now the majority at Minneapolis Community and Technical CollegeDiana Cusick is director of legal affairs for MCTC. In that capacity, she oversees the school’s Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity goals. All MnSCU colleges and universities are required to submit Affirmative Action plans every two years using State documentation that divides the Minnesota workforce into Affirmative Action categories.“If the data show that there is a greater percentage in an Affirmative Action category [in the Minnesota workforce] than we have here working [at MCTC], then we have what is called ‘underutilization’ for that category.”According to the 2010-2012 documentation, of the 168 professional faculty positions, 22 minorities (13.1 percent) were required to meet Affirmative Action goals. Continue Reading