If we need more teachers of color, stop saying we need diversity

The state of public education in Minnesota is not looking good. According to data provided by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), in 2014 and 2015 more than half of 11th graders were not at grade level in math or reading. For those same years, the Minneapolis Public School District (MPS) showed no more than a third of 11th graders performed at grade level for either subject. For students of color, the numbers are even worse, giving Minnesota one of the largest achievement gaps nationally between students of color and their white peers.

There are many factors affecting why Black, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Native American kids don’t perform well here. But one key contributor is a belief gap that follows them into their classrooms, where they are viewed by predominantly white teachers as having less academic potential than their white peers. Continue Reading

Feature: Amira Warren-Yearby, student journalist and activist

What started out as a way to create diversity in the St. Louis Park student newspaper led Amira Warren-Yearby to an opportunity of a lifetime. Warren-Yearby was awarded the 2015 ThreeSixty Scholarship that provides a full-tuition, four-year scholarship to attend the University of St. Thomas as a communications major. The scholarship is offered every year to high school seniors who complete the ThreeSixty program. Continue Reading

Speaking truth to power: Parents, teachers and students rally against cuts to Saint Paul schools

On Monday, June 1st, an hour after word began to spread of movement in the K-12 education budget stalemate between Governor Dayton and Republican legislators, the St. Paul Federation of Teachers sponsored a rally protesting potential layoffs of teachers, educational assistants, counselors and other staff, some of whom have already received pink slips. Parents, students, teachers and an elementary school principal spoke truth to power: members of the St. Paul legislative delegation, who sat in the front row of the auditorium at St. Paul Central High School. In attendance were State Representatives Erin Murphy, Dave Pinto, Rena Moran, Carlos Mariani, John Lesch, Sheldon Johnson and State Senators Dick Cohen and Sandy Pappas. Members of the St. Paul delegation not in attendance were State Representatives Alice Hausman and Tim Mahoney and State Senators John Marty and Foung Hawj. Continue Reading

Community Collaboration helps increase Battle Creek family involvement almost 20%

A new, more collaborative approach has increased family participation in spring conferences held at Battle Creek Middle School in St. Paul. This April, our Spring Conference turnout had a 7% increase from last year and a 19% increase from two years ago. Many programs shared information about opportunities to develop new skills, improve academically and stay physically active during the summer. Continue Reading

How do you make sure you’re raising a feminist?

Now there are a lot of great biographies of women who have changed the world. If you’re looking for a particular woman’s story, I’d be happy to recommend one to you. But if you just want to share the idea that there are a lot of different women who have changed the world in a lot of different ways, I recommend Rad American Women A-Z. Continue Reading

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