Nekima Levy-Pounds

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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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Fiscal cliff most threatening for Blacks, other communities of color

 
Effects would add more hurt to Great Recession’s impact 
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Low- and moderate-income people will immediately be adversely affected if the country plunges over “the fiscal cliff” at the beginning of the year, predicts a former Obama administration member. Automatic tax hikes and spending cuts will take place unless Congress and the White House reach an agreement by December 31. Last week, on a New America Media-scheduled teleconference with reporters, including the MSR, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Senior Fellow Jared Bernstein said that “low-income people will feel [it] right away if we go over the fiscal cliff” on January 1.      

“Current conditions actually are very tough on low-income people,” said Bernstein. “Fifteen percent of the population are in poverty, and if you look at folk who are disproportionately low-income, African American poverty is closer to 28 percent [and] Hispanics at 25 percent. Continue Reading →

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Advocates of local Black business urge better-educated spending

Advocates of local Black business urge better-educated spending
 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

According to a 2011 Nielsen consumers report, the U.S. Black population’s collective buying power is projected to be $1.1 trillion by 2015. Many community members, hearing that at least $4 billion is spent annually just by Black Minnesotans, are wondering aloud why economic inequalities in the Black community persist. The answer, some say, is in how and where Blacks are spending that money. The report also found that Black households make more shopping trips annually than any other group — they spend more on basic food ingredients and beverages, fragrance and personal health, and beauty products. Despite making more shopping trips overall, Blacks shop at grocery stores, super centers and warehouse stores less than other groups. Continue Reading →

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Minnesotans march for Trayvon Martin

 

 
Attendees call for a ‘new beginning’ on solidarity,
an end to racial profiling

By Charles Hallman 

Staff Writer

 

Thousands last week peacefully stood, marched, sang and chanted outside University of Minnesota’s Northrop Auditorium, protesting not only the tragic death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, but also the violent deaths of several other Blacks in recent weeks in other parts of the country. Third year U-M student Brianna Wilson urged the rally participants who attended the March 29 event to not “let this energy go to waste” but to “get energized…and fight for racial justice.” Ever since the Martin death made news, she said the emotions among her and others on campus “has been shocking and frustrating. You hear a lot of frustration, a lot of anger.”

Wilson recalled how a friend of hers “cried on the phone” after hearing replays of the 911 call with Martin and the man who shot him: “You could hear Trayvon in the background, screaming for help. That broke her heart, and broke my heart,” she said. Nick Muhammad of Torch Light MN estimated at least 10,000 persons were in the Northrop Plaza. Continue Reading →

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Local law professor finds her calling in civil rights work

 

 

By James L. Stroud, Jr.

Contributing Writer

 

On December 3, 2011, the Minnesota Jaycees organization held their Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans (TOYM) awards celebration at the Earle Brown Center in Brooklyn Park. Associate Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds of the University of St. Thomas law school was recognized as one of those outstanding 10 people. Since 1950, the TOYM program has recognized outstanding young leaders ages 18-40 statewide. The young leaders are acknowledged for their contributions to Minnesota through service, thought, influence, community involvement and/or entrepreneurship. Continue Reading →

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Gang database under review – Critics call for better way to identify gang members

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The 1997 Minnesota Legislature mandated that a computerized criminal gang data system be set up to assist local law enforcement agencies statewide. The pros and cons of what became the Minnesota Criminal Gang Pointer File are now being aired in a review of the database. State lawmakers last year established the Violent Crime Coordinating Council to reevaluate whether the current Minnesota Criminal Gang Pointer File needs to be modified or scrapped altogether and replaced with a new method of identifying people involved in gangs. Mostly composed of local and regional law enforcement officials, the 19-member council held three public forums during the last three months to get input from community members. “This was the best of the three [forums],” said St. Continue Reading →

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