Minneapolis Public Schools

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Public schools foe Better Ed campaigns for school choice

Better Ed billboard as of October 2014

Nearly two years ago a billboard appeared in North Minneapolis that raised quite a few eyebrows. Strategically placed across the street from the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Davis Center at 1250 West Broadway, the billboard declared, “Minneapolis Public Schools spends $525,000 per classroom of 25 students…PER YEAR.”

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MLK legacy gets a creative upgrade in South Mpls park

MLK-group-shovel-shot-771x578

The next phase in the re-dedication efforts of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Minneapolis kicked off May 6 with community members and partners, City and County officials, Minneapolis park board members, and members of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Council gathering at the park for the official groundbreaking ceremony of a new playground.
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AGH initiative promises to finally close MN Achievement Gap

 

Satire is sometimes the best way for a writer to make a point, especially on topics that are simply so foolish as to invite a little constructive ridicule. Such is the case for the following commentary by MSR’s editor-in-chief. It originates from a conversation we had one day in the editorial department about the bewildering variety of people and programs popping up left and right promising to fix the infamous Achievement Gap between Black and White students. There were literally hundreds of initiatives with nearly as many different approaches to the problem. It seemed absurdly complicated. Continue Reading →

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New MPS director to focus on Black male achievement

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) now has in place their new office that will specifically look at Black male student achievement. Michael Walker, a longtime district employee and most recently Roosevelt High School assistant principal, was selected as the first director of the district’s Office of Black Male Student Achievement. He begins work July 28. The district’s Black males are “a very narrow group,” admits MPS CEO Michael Goar when oft-asked why this student population is receiving so much focused attention. Eliminating the achievement gap between Black males and their MPS peers has presented “persistent challenges for the community” as well for the district, stated Goar. Continue Reading →

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Workshops help MPS students’ parents learn their rights

Knowing these rights, they can better advocate for their children’s interests
 
 

By Brandi Phillips

Contributing Writer

 

The is the first year Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) have hosted parent advocacy workshops in conjunction with the Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP). As described by Damon Gunn, program coordinator for the Office of Student, Family and Community Engagement for the MPS, “[We] partnered with the Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program out of Washington, D.C. that has been doing parent advocacy workshops for the last few years. “PREP has been working with other school districts for the last couple of years. New York City Schools and San Diego public schools are also partners.”

PREP is an initiative of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law. In their literature, PREP claims to “support student success by empowering parents to become stronger advocates for their children through learning about their educational rights and building skills to take effective action for children.”

PREP is a series of workshops, hosted in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali, that help parents navigate through the MPS system. Continue Reading →

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Civil rights tour opened students’ eyes to Black history

 Spring break trip field trip encouraged thoughts of college, attending HBCUs
 

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

 

Over 40 Minneapolis Public Schools’ (MPS) Black high school students, instead of spending spring break on a sunny beach, traveled down south by bus on a “Civil Rights Research Tour.” The five-day tour (March 31-April 5) took the students to Montgomery, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia and stopped at several historic sites, including the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four young Black girls died in 1964. For some students, the trip also included stops at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Four of the participants spoke to the MSR last week about their experience. “It helped me learn more about my history,” said Edison junior Nailah Heard. “I never heard of the 16th Street Church at all,” added Edison’s classmate Jasmine Valentine. Continue Reading →

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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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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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Gary Cunningham gives back, as his uncle Moe taught him

The ‘one story’ of European colonialism informs his work
By Isaac Peterson
Contributing Writer

 

Minneapolis-native Gary Cunningham’s career has been long and varied, and his résumé reads like a “Who’s Who” of local government agencies and organizations. He has been involved with, at various times:

• NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center in North Minneapolis, where he was CEO and director of primary care;

• Hennepin County as director of planning and development;

• Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, as associate collegiate program leader and research fellow;

• Minneapolis Public Schools as executive director of human resource services/acting operations administrator;

• Scott County as administrator and chief executive officer; and

• The African American Men Project as its director. Before all of that, Cunningham was raised by his uncle Moe, a community activist who Cunningham credits with giving him the guidance that blossomed into a career of service. “There was an expectation that you would use

your skills, talents and abilities to give back and contribute to the well-being of the community, particularly African Americans and other people of color,” Cunningham explained about his uncle. After graduating from Minneapolis’ Central High School, Cunningham became involved with the Community Gardens in South Minneapolis and then went on to run the Grand-Central Co-Op, a grocery store across the street from his old high school. Continue Reading →

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MPS settles lawsuit, establishes fund to compensate students

Classes taught by unlicensed teachers led some to lose required credits
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) will establish a compensatory fund for former Broadway High School students to settle a class-action lawsuit filed against the district in 2012. The Minneapolis School Board voted to approve the settlement during its September 10 meeting. Broadway is a Minneapolis alternative high school that serves pregnant and parenting teens, and also provides free child care and other support services. In an exclusive interview with the MSR last week at the

Davis Center, MPS officials said that ongoing discussions between the district and the plaintiffs began last November, and in July they reached a preliminary settlement agreement. “The district always had the position that we wanted to do what was best for the students, and we wanted to make sure that we could provide the opportunity that was in the best interest of these students,” explained MPS Assistant General Counsel Cedrick Frazier. Continue Reading →

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