Best of Neighborhoods News 4/09/19: The Prairie Island Indian Community wants net-zero emissions, and they may receive $46.2 million in funding

The Prairie Island Indian Community wants net-zero emissions, and they may receive $46.2 million in fundingJust southeast of the Twin Cities by about 45 minutes, abutting the Mississippi River, is one of the Mdewakanton reservations on Prairie Island in Red Wing, Minnesota. The tribe that calls the island home also shares a border, strangely enough, with Xcel’s nuclear plant and a cache of its radioactive waste. The facility, so precariously located just down the river, was borne out of an arrangement stipulating that Xcel must “set aside money in a state fund to develop renewable energy.” That fund has since reached about $327 million, but none of it has yet been invested in Prairie Island

So, as recent as 2018, residents set out to change just that, to finance their plan to achieve net-zero emissions and wean the island off nuclear power. In his 2019 budget plan, Governor Tim Walz has proposed allocating about $46.2 million over three years to the tribe. But currently, partisan disagreements abound over how to properly fund what many in the Legislature consider the state’s fight against climate change. Continue Reading

black male students

Shaping an identity-affirming space for Black males at Henry High School

As many Black males start their education, their views on school are optimistic. Then something happens. As they matriculate, their optimism is replaced with feeling unwelcomed and unwanted. Research shows that African American boys in kindergarten through third grade perform comparably to their peers. But after fourth grade, things take a turn. They become less engaged. Once this begins, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep them engaged. This is reflected in poor graduation rates, attendance, behavioral concerns and even worse academic performance.

There are no inherent flaws in our boys. So why is this happening? Why does the school system keep producing these outcomes? Continue Reading

Too hot to learn? Patrick Henry students speak out in Minneapolis

At 3 p.m. on Tuesday, August 27, students spilled out of Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis, hands waving in front of their faces like makeshift fans. It was hot outside, and maybe even hotter inside Henry’s nearly 100-year-old building.At a press conference called by north Minneapolis non-profit Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), along with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, organizers spoke about how the early start date for Minneapolis schools has impacted students and staff during this late August heat wave.No teachers showed up to speak at the press conference, but students had plenty to say. Sophomore Laura Sosa and her friend, junior Karen Miranda, said the school was “really hot,” which made them “tired” during the school day. Both girls said that some classrooms had temperatures of over 99 degrees, and that teachers “were complaining” about this.Sosa and Miranda also were grateful for the Gatorade-type water jugs provided by the district. Each filled their own water bottles several times during the day with the district-provided water.Also speaking outside the school was freshman Shaheed Bell, who said that the heat made students “not very productive.” Shaheed said that, while he didn’t think the lack of air conditioning was “unfair,” given how old the Henry building is, he does think school should start “after Labor Day.” Bell said it was so hot inside the school that no one could concentrate on their work.Senior Todd Riser also spoke out, saying students were “drowsy,” and “didn’t want to work.” According to Riser, a chemistry teacher told the students that their classroom temperature was “over 100 degrees.” In Riser’s view, such intense heat made it hard to concentrate.Anthony Newby, who is the executive director of NOC, called the press conference to raise awareness of equity issues. Continue Reading