Best of Neighborhood News 03/26/19: a lesson plan for every student

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A lesson plan for every student
A $2.6 million initiative is bringing change to classrooms in elementary and middle schools across Minneapolis this fall. Every school in the district will be able to hire “a differentiation specialist – a licensed teacher who will help meet the varying academic needs of students.” The pedagogy of differentiation is that teaching is predicated on student differences, above all else; differentiation is about this need to differentiate instruction effectively. This differentiation initiative is a part of Superintendent Ed Graff’s new academic priorities, which aim to deliver – with a proposed budget totaling $620.6 million – a “sense of stability” to schools and district departments.

Eric Moore, a member of the superintendent’s cabinet and interim chief of academics, explained that the differentiation initiative “is really listening to our families that want rigor and positive classroom experiences.”

Learn more, read the full story at Southwest Journal.

Hennepin County Attorney unveils data dashboard that allows anyone to track racial disparities and more
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced to the county board on March 14 that the prosecutor’s office is set to build newfangled data practices that “promote transparency” and guide “thoughtful decision making.” Such practices, the prosecutor explained, will be made possible through a statistical data dashboard, with easily accessible information that is updated daily and goes as far back as 2014. Officials hope to glean from this dashboard more effective ways of discerning certain racial disparities and narrowing the gap between them.

Whether data-keeping practices will ensure, for instance, that “changes to Minnesota drug laws in 2016 and changes in charging policies for low-levels of marijuana” will yield their desired results, is something that remains to be seen.

For more on the story and the dashboard, read Insight News.

At Arts Us, students focus on culture, leadership — and connecting to history
Nearly a three-decades-old youth arts organization formed out of the community of Black artists and educators in the Twin Cities, ARTS-Us belongs to the unique artistic, cultural and scientific lineage of the African diaspora. As such, it specializes in artforms of the diaspora. A core belief of the organization holds that “youth can arrive at artistic excellence and develop leadership skills through the experiences of peoples of African descent.”

But what started as an arts organization, with perhaps 30 students, has slowly blossomed over the years to become something much more. Now with over 150 youth participating in its programming efforts in summer camps and at the University of Minnesota through workshops and courses, to name a few, ARTS-Us will soon be renamed the “ARTS Us Center for the African Diaspora.”

Check out the full story on MinnPost.

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