Black students

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Courageous Conversations program confronts systemic racism in education

 
Acknowledging that ‘race matters’ is a first step in reducing Black suspensions
 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

In the recent MSR six-part series on Black suspensions, several school districts — including Minneapolis, St. Paul, and several other Twin Cities area schools — indicated that they are using the Courageous Conversations program in helping to lower their suspension rates. To learn more about this program, we contacted San Francisco-based Pacific Educational Group (PEG) Founder and CEO Glenn Singleton, who recently spoke with us in an extended phone interview. “My team is excited about the work that is going on in the Twin Cities,” Singleton said. He founded PEG in 1992 and has authored two books: Courageous Conversations About Race (2006) and More Courageous Conversations About Race (2013). Continue Reading →

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U of M student becomes seventh Black to serve on Board of Regents — The first, Josie Johnson, urges continuing the fight for diversity

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The 12-member University of Minnesota Board of Regents is the school’s governing body. Its members are elected by the Minnesota Legislature and serve without pay. Eight members represent the state’s eight congressional districts, and four members, including a current U of M student representative, are elected at large. Their six-year terms are staggered so that only four positions are available for appointment every two years. Current Minnesota student Abdul Omari was among four new regents selected during this year’s state legislative session. Continue Reading →

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Schools seek remedies to racial suspension gap

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Black students nationwide are suspended at least twice more frequently than any other student group and up to three times more often in many Twin Cities metro area urban and suburban school districts. However, school officials say that they are working on reducing Black suspension rates using a variety of strategies. “I cannot speak for all districts, but I can tell you that we have worked extremely hard in Anoka-Hennepin to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of all students of color,” stated Anoka-Hennepin spokesperson Mary Olson. The district had a nearly 33 percent Black suspension rate in 2011-12 while only 10 percent of its overall student population is Black. Anoka-Hennepin has been using cultural competency and culturally responsive teaching strategies by the Seattle-based Gary Howard Equity Institute for nearly four years, added Olson. Continue Reading →

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Black school suspensions twice the population rates in St. Paul suburbs

 
Claims of progress challenged
 
 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

FIFTH IN A SERIES

 

According to 2010-11 and 2011-12 Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) suspension data, nine of 11 St. Paul suburban school districts reported Black double-digit suspension rates. Although these districts reported lower Black suspension rates than other Twin Cities-area schools that the MSR has analyzed in previous reports, the rates, ranging from 13 to 37 percent, are still at least twice the overall Black student enrollments. The statewide Black suspension rate during the same period is 39 percent. None of the districts the MSR contacted was able to provide breakdown data on the types of negative behaviors that produced these high rates of Black suspensions. Continue Reading →

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How best reduce school suspensions? – Teacher argues the answer is not ignoring classroom misbehavior

 

 

By Charles Hallman 

Staff Writer

 

St. Paul Public Schools’ (SPPS) Black suspension rate dropped only two percent from 2010-11 to 2011-12. Black students there still receive nearly 70 percent of all suspensions. SPPS Chief of Staff Michelle Walker told the MSR that Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and “Courageous Conversations” strategies, used to help teachers respond more positively to student behaviors — especially those of Black students — has played a huge role in the decline in suspensions. “Suspensions as a [disciplinary] strategy doesn’t work,” she points out. Continue Reading →

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MPS Black student suspensions twice state average

 

 

The district aims for more consistent discipline among schools, teachers
 
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

According to Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) data from the last two school years, the suspension rates of Black students in Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) are twice that of Black students suspended statewide. Additionally, more Black students were suspended in 2011-12 (4,336) than in 2010-11 (4,305). However, a Minneapolis teacher who spoke on the condition of anonymity believes that the district suspension numbers at some schools are “deliberately manipulated. “They will have an all-out bloody fight between a first grader and a third grader, and [school officials] don’t want the kids suspended,” observed the teacher. “What I’m seeing is there is no black-or-white spelled-out policy for infractions that leads to suspensions. Continue Reading →

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Suburban Black student suspensions show little improvement in 2010-12

 
In some cases, the disproportionately high rates are growing worse
 
 

 

Second in a series
 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

In last week’s edition, the MSR reviewed 2009 suspension data from several suburban schools showing, as the story headline stated, that “Black suspensions [are] more than double other students’ in suburban schools.” The MSR also reviewed the 2010-11 and 2011-12 discipline data from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to determine if schools have improved since 2009. According to the most recently available MDE data, the extremely disproportionate Black student suspension rates in several Minneapolis suburban schools have not significantly improved over the course of the last two school years, and in several cases have grown considerably worse, despite statements from many districts that they have programs in place to reduce the rates. The MSR examined MDE disciplinary action counts from 13 school districts. Following are specifics from four districts.  

Hopkins

Fifty-seven percent of 2010-12 suspensions (580 of 1,010) in Hopkins junior high and high schools were Black students, an 11 percent increase from 2009. Continue Reading →

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Black suspensions more than double other students’ in suburban schools

 

 
Hopkins students feel disrespected by school officials
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

 

On April 26, Black Hopkins high school students walked out during the school’s last hour of the day. They complained of unfair treatment when it comes to disciplinary issues. “We want equality. We are here for an education,” says Junior Malika Musa, who co-organized the protest with fellow 11th-grader Maray Singleton. “[School officials] are not really trying to acknowledge that we have these problems and that we need to change,” adds Singleton. Continue Reading →

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Patience: When is it no longer a virtue?

Many of us here at the MSR recall being taught by our elders that “Patience is a virtue,” and very often we have found their advice to be true. Often, if we wait and exercise patience, in time what is fair and what is just will prevail. Those in power who are doing wrong sometimes come to see the error of their ways. They begin to listen. They hear the cries of the people and do what they can to relieve their pain. Continue Reading →

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Is doll-hanging incident a result of ignorance or callousness?

 

Someone once said that “the problem with the past is it’s not quite past.” Ironically, the hanging of a Black doll and the dragging of it through school at Minneapolis Washburn was a reminder that the past is not quite past us in our so-called post-racial society. Why would someone hang a Black doll knowing that at the very least it would be attention getting in young people’s consciousness? Some of the young people who spoke at an assembly at the school about the issue said that the perpetrators didn’t mean anything by hanging the doll. A few others said it wasn’t meant to be racist. Maybe not. Continue Reading →

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