Michelle Walker

Recent Articles

Some class sizes reduced in new St. Paul teachers’ contract

Trust an ongoing issue between teachers, district
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

 

The St. Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFT) and St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) both cite “seven community-developed priorities” in the three-year “landmark contract” that was settled last month and approved earlier this month. These priorities include smaller classes and hiring more teachers and staff. Two key persons directly involved in the negotiations, SPFT President Mary Cathryn Ricker and SPPS Chief of Staff Michelle Walker, last week spoke to the MSR in separate interviews. Continue Reading →

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St. Paul Public Schools invests over $1 million in California-based equity training — Evidence of reduced Black suspensions still inconclusive

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) in 2010 began a five-year training plan to improve racial equity “at all levels” of the district. This year, the SPPS board voted five-to-one July 16 to approve a new racial equity policy. According to the revised draft posted on the SPPS website, the new policy’s purpose is “eliminating our district’s institutional racism, [which] will increase achievement…for all students, while narrowing the gaps between the highest- and lowest-performing students.” It also states that SPPS will “invite and include people from all races and ethnicities to examine issues and find adaptive solutions [and] eliminate practices that result in predictably lower academic achievement for any student racial group.”

SPPS Board Member Keith Hardy, who made the motion to adopt the new policy and voted for it, told the MSR that a subcommittee has been working on it since this past spring. He added that he wanted to “make sure that the policy had the right language to address what we really need to address, the eradication of institutional racism…and that we had a policy that will drive procedures and accountability measures that will be specific.”

“I believe we are the second district to pass such a policy in Minnesota. 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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