James Burroughs

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MPS aims for new level of Black student achievement in 2014-15

Mentors, new programs part of plan to ‘normalize success’
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

An estimated 80 local Black men met with Black male students last Friday morning as part of the 100 Strong Who Care mentoring program that Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Equity Director James Burroughs started about five years ago. He told the students before they met with the men in small groups, “We want to let the world and Minneapolis know that Black men do care about our young Black men.”

Northside Achievement Zone Family Academy Director Andre Dukes told the students they all were born “with a destiny” for success. “You are not a mistake. You are not an accident,” he assured them. “The sooner you make up your minds to reach your goals and live out your destiny, the better off your life will be. Continue Reading →

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New MPS programs to focus on Black male student achievement

Unified office, more instruction, more teachers planned
 

This story concludes our report on new MPS initiatives to address disparities that began with last week’s story, “Mpls Public Schools to assess impact of all policies, procedures on race equity.”

 

Second in a two-part  story 
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

A new Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) department “aimed at accelerating academic strategies and reducing the achievement gap” has been established. The primary reason for the office is that there are multiple programs within MPS Central Office “that are doing similar work and as long as these [five] departments are in a silo and not connected together, we are not going to have a comprehensive, unified vision on how we allocate and be more thoughtful [on a] strategic way to deliver services,” explains CEO Michael Goar, who adds that a search for someone to head the new office is currently underway. “We want to make sure that all of our students of color will be just as successful as our White students,” pledges James Burroughs, MPS equality and diversity director. MPS serves approximately 36,000-plus students “and we’re growing,” reiterates Goar. “When you look at our student population, you are talking about the majority of our kids are kids of color. Continue Reading →

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Mpls Public Schools to assess impact of all policies, procedures on race equity

Community members encouraged to participate and be heard
 
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) officials have announced that all future district policies, practices, programs and procedures, as well as the allocation of resources “that have a significant impact on student learning,” will be assessed for equity and diversity “so that no community is disproportionately impacted.”

A new Equity and Diversity Assessment policy is now in place, said Equality and Diversity Executive Director James Burroughs in a recent MSR interview at the school’s Davis Center headquarters. “It basically says that all of our practices, policies and procedures as we go forward will undergo an Equity Impact Assessment,” he explained. “It’s about a four- or five-page document [applied to] any decision that we make, how are they impacting our families, especially our families of color who traditionally have been underserved by us. But now we are making a conscious and intentional effort to make sure that they are served better.”

The assessment also will help evaluate how MPS decisions “are impacting our communities,” Burroughs pointed out. “Who’s at the table when we are making decisions on Black boys? Continue Reading →

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Black Minnesotans lobby at the State Capitol

 
Can the new ‘Black agenda’ move the community forward? 
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

There was nothing new revealed last week during the Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Lobby Day at the State Capitol presenting their Black agenda to this year’s Minnesota Legislature. Billed as “Black Minnesotans Helping Move Minnesota Forward,” around 50 people listened on March 19 at the Capitol Rotunda to over 20 scheduled speakers before many of them visited legislators’ offices. “The last two years there was a collective group that sat on this African American lobby day, and this place was filled,” noted Rev. Jerry McAfee, who added that the COBM “didn’t reach out to anybody else. If this is about Black Minnesotans, why are you leaving Black folk out?”

Although McAfee didn’t blame the council’s new executive director, Edward McDonald, for the seemingly solo effort in planning last week’s event, the longtime pastor nonetheless added, “Some of the people around him on the council knew about it, and they should’ve said, ‘We will be stronger if we put everybody in together.’”

McDonald was hired and assumed the COBM executive duties last October. “Whether we like them [organizations that represent Blacks] or don’t like them, every African American group should have been a part of this, and there should have been meetings prior to this so that there could [be] one agenda. Continue Reading →

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Mentors needed to model success

 

 

 

To be a mentor these days, especially to Black youngsters, doesn’t take a lot of academic letters behind one’s name. It just takes someone committed to the next generation’s success. “I think mentoring is extremely important for the growth and development of our young children, especially African American boys and girls,” explains Minneapolis Public Schools Diversity and Equity Director James Burroughs. His office runs a program called 100 Strong Who Care. Started in 2009, the program uses local volunteers who regularly visit MPS schools as tutors, classroom assistants and after-school program supporters. Continue Reading →

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State’s integration program scrutinized

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Since a 2005 State legislative auditor’s report that called for more clarity on the State’s Integration Revenue Program, some, including many members of the Minnesota Legislature, are asking whether State funding to integrate schools, which is set to expire in 2013, should be expanded, repurposed or eliminated. In its final report released in February, the legislature’s 12-member Integration Revenue Replacement Task Force recommendations include the creation of an Achievement and Integration for Minnesota program, and examining if a Metropolitan Integration School District is needed to serve all metro-area districts that receive integration funds. The task force also recommended that the existing Integration Revenue Program stay at the current level, and that the law define percentages for how funds are spent: at least 80 percent on students and 20 percent on professional development and administration, with administrative costs not to exceed 10 percent. The task force recommendations were almost identical to those that came late last year from the Minnesota School Integration Council (MSIC) report on State integration funding. MSIC recommended that the components of the current Minnesota Desegregation Rule prohibiting “intentional segregation” remain, and that the State establish an Educational Equity Through Integration program that would require all districts to participate in the program. Legislators will make the final decision on which of the recommendations will be implemented. Continue Reading →

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