Minneapolis School Board

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A silent campaign for the Mpls Board of Education election

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let life be breathed into the education debate. At stake are not only the lives of our children but also the prosperity and happiness killed by the poverty in our urban neighborhoods. I recommend that the following organizations hold at least three major Minneapolis School Board candidate forums, in May, July, and late September, 2014: The NAACP, the Minneapolis Urban League and the  African American Leadership Forum. They should commit themselves to an active and shared leadership role and no longer stand in the shadow of silence. With all of the pretense that goes on in the City of Minneapolis regarding education, you would think that three months into 2014, an election year, we would already be listening to and weighing passionate thoughts and policy recommendations to deal with the continued mis-education of children of color in Minneapolis public schools. Continue Reading →

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The MSR 2013 year in review

The local Black press continues to publish stories “from our own lens”
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

This year, 2013, was historic as well as a year-long full of highs and lows: Two MSR reporters were among the national and international press that covered America’s first Black president’s second inauguration in January. Said Atlanta Daily World reporter Kenya King, a member of the Black press who was covering the Obama inauguration for the second time, “I’m here to capture…the moment of this historic occasion [and] to make sure that the message that should get across, does get across.”

A ‘new Black agenda’ was discussed by the Council on Black Minnesotans and others during the organization’s Lobby Day at the State Capitol on March 19. The MSR asked several Blacks in attendance that day if they felt new voices and perhaps a new message is needed from Black Minnesotans. “I think it is time for new voices to be heard,” believed Greater Friendship Missionary

Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Billy Russell in our March 28 front-page story. The MSR also continued its coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the introduction of MNsure, the state’s new health-insurance exchange program and how the new healthcare law will benefit Blacks. Continue Reading →

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Mpls. school board approves measure to decrease suspension

Superintendent disputes claims that schools are warehouses, mini-jails
 

Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

The Minneapolis School Board last week approved a new district-wide discipline policy. The “Behavior Standards Policy,” which will take effect in the 2014-15 school year, “sets clear expectations, defines consistent responses and helps staff members find alternatives to suspensions.”

This came in response to an “alarming” suspension rate of one in five Black males annually being suspended compared to one in 29 White males, especially in the early grades. According to Minneapolis Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson, who spoke with the MSR during a December 19 interview, a new policy is needed to help Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) close the achievement gap between Blacks and other students. “It’s really about expanding learning time for students and reducing suspensions and out-of-school time, especially for our African American students and African American boys,” Johnson explained. “I am not saying that kids are creating an unsafe environment and leaving them [in school], and I am not sure I am interested in in-school suspension rooms either. 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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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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South High food fight gives voice to Somali student’s frustrations

One student response to turmoil is to “mix it up” culturally
 

By Mel Reeves

Contributing Writer

 

“We don’t feel safe,” said 16-year-old Kowsar Mohamed, a Somali student at South High, during a recent press conference addressing the reasons for a Feb. 14 fight in the cafeteria of the school involving Somali, other African Americans, and Native American students. Her classmates surprisingly pointed out that their sense of insecurity extends to the Minneapolis police stationed at the school. “We were mishandled by the police,” said student Halima Abumunye. “I felt disrespected by the police. Continue Reading →

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Racial Equity Report Card and legislative agenda announced

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The Organizing Apprenticeship Project (OAP) called January 30 for a statewide racial equity agenda. It was introduced along with the organization’s seventh annual Racial Equity Report Card during a rally at the State Capitol. “This agenda is not controversial but rather a multiracial and multi-issue group of community leaders working for racial, cultural and economic justice,“ said Phyllis Hill of ISAIAH, one of the 50-plus organizations that support the OAP’s plan. “I think we can turn our state around,” she believes, if more attention is given to such important issues as health care, education, economic opportunities, housing and justice issues as they affect Blacks and other people of color. Such an agenda is important now more than ever, noted Minneapolis School Board Member Kim Ellison. Continue Reading →

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School board member commits to focusing on achievement gap

 

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman 

Staff Writer

 

 
Second priority: effective school leadership

 

After years of being an advocate for her own children as well as the children of others, Kim Ellison took “the next step” earlier this year when she applied and later was named a Minneapolis School Board member to finish up former board member Lydia Lee’s remaining term. “It gave me the opportunity to sit in the position where I could…listen to how are we affecting [parents and children],” recalls Ellison, who ran unopposed and was elected to her first official term in the November general elections. On being a first-time elected official, “I am looking forward to it,” continues Ellison. She doesn’t see herself as an incumbent despite having been a board member since January of this year. As a result, she is eager to participate in the new-member orientation this coming January. Continue Reading →

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Green Central enters new school year amid controversy

 

 

News Analysis

By Mel Reeves

Contributing Writer

 

“The Developmental Dual Language [DDL] program at Green [Central School] is a new approach, and starting new things — moving out of a comfort zone — is always a little threatening. But it’s the right thing to do for our Spanish-speaking students,” says Green Central Principal Catalina Salas. Salas was not available to be interviewed for this story but provided the MSR with a written statement explaining the reasons for curriculum changes. Salas has come under fire from some parents and community members who are nervous about the program and fear that, while it may be the right thing to do for Spanish-speaking students, it may leave African American students behind. Some even fear that this will result in segregation of those students in the same school. Continue Reading →

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