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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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Courageous Conversations program confronts systemic racism in education

 
Acknowledging that ‘race matters’ is a first step in reducing Black suspensions
 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

In the recent MSR six-part series on Black suspensions, several school districts — including Minneapolis, St. Paul, and several other Twin Cities area schools — indicated that they are using the Courageous Conversations program in helping to lower their suspension rates. To learn more about this program, we contacted San Francisco-based Pacific Educational Group (PEG) Founder and CEO Glenn Singleton, who recently spoke with us in an extended phone interview. “My team is excited about the work that is going on in the Twin Cities,” Singleton said. He founded PEG in 1992 and has authored two books: Courageous Conversations About Race (2006) and More Courageous Conversations About Race (2013). Continue Reading →

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Schools seek remedies to racial suspension gap

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Black students nationwide are suspended at least twice more frequently than any other student group and up to three times more often in many Twin Cities metro area urban and suburban school districts. However, school officials say that they are working on reducing Black suspension rates using a variety of strategies. “I cannot speak for all districts, but I can tell you that we have worked extremely hard in Anoka-Hennepin to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of all students of color,” stated Anoka-Hennepin spokesperson Mary Olson. The district had a nearly 33 percent Black suspension rate in 2011-12 while only 10 percent of its overall student population is Black. Anoka-Hennepin has been using cultural competency and culturally responsive teaching strategies by the Seattle-based Gary Howard Equity Institute for nearly four years, added Olson. Continue Reading →

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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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