Champion Public Education

Our approach to education must be systems focused—classroom success is interconnected with stable housing, economic justice, access to transit and healthcare, public safety, and justice for our environment. Due to the separation of power in our local government, education is considered within the sole purview of the Minneapolis Board of Education. However, the Mayor can and should act as a champion for quality education by addressing factors impacting classroom success.

Background

Minneapolis has an opportunity and an achievement gap perpetuated by the actions of government. Students of color and Indigenous students, and their families continue to be actively excluded from decisions housing markets, employment opportunities, and suffer the harmful effects of poverty, environmental degradation, and over policing.

  • Minneapolis is home to over 50,000 students in our city
  • While graduation rates have gone up among all Minneapolis students, racial disparities persist between white students and POCI students
  • 6,039 youth in Minneapolis experienced homelessness in 2015-16
  • In 2015-16 8.3% of Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) students experiencing homelessness
  • 66% of Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) students identify at people of color and Indigenous (POCI), while only 14% of MPS teachers identify as POCI
  • In 2010, the community surrounding North High School organized to keep it from being shut down. In the last two years, graduation rates for North High School have increased by over 40 percent to 81%
  • Black and Native students are suspended at rates 8 times as high as white students
  • As a result of the war on drugs and mass incarceration, the government has removed adult support figures from children’s lives—1 in 9 black children has had a parent in prison, compared to 1 in 57 white children

Vision and Priorities

The Mayor needs to be the champion of public education. While student success is grounded in the classroom—quality teachers, resources to support all learners, and driven school leaders— to meet to the needs for all of our students, we need to ensure services outside of the classroom.

  1. Support the transition of Minneapolis to a full-service community school district: Community schools work to meet students’ and families’ basic needs. By centralizing services—early childhood screenings, counseling, social work, health care services, and meaningful summer and afterschool programming—schools will be neighborhood institutions for students and families.
    • Research proves all students benefit from teacher diversity I will advocate for permanent funding for the Minnesota Residency Program—a program diversifying our teaching force and creating alternative pathways to teaching
    • Brooklyn Center transitioned to a community school model, the District has seen:
      • Graduation rates rise from 74% to 87%
      • Graduates attending Minnesota colleges and universities rose from 61% to 78%
      • School absences decreased from 9,000 in 2009 to 6,500 in 2014
      • Behavioral references fell from over 5,000 to under 2,500 between 2009 and 2014
    • We need to build off of the city's 2014 Cradle to K cabinet successes—including increasing quality child care providers, increasing early childhood screenings and closing the word gap—by anchoring these programs in full-service community schools
  2. Ensure all youth in Minneapolis are housed in a safe, affordable housing: Approximately 88% of students experiencing homelessness in Minneapolis in the 2015-16 school year were students of color and Indigenous students—50% were between ages 3 and 8. Our efforts must lead to ending homelessness, assisting those who currently experience homelessness, ensuring an adequate stock of affordable housing, and creating pathways to equitable home ownership.
    • The city of Minneapolis must guarantee an adequate supply of affordable housing in every neighborhood. We will accomplish this by expanding the number of affordable housing units in the city, preserving existing affordable housing, combating gentrification and displacement, and protecting renters from unjust rent increases and evictions. Read my full plan for achieving affordable housing
    • Areas of both North Minneapolis and South Minneapolis have some of the highest asthma rates in the seven-county metro. We need to hold industrial polluters accountable, transition to clean energy, intentionally invest in communities harmed by environmental racism, and work with the state to secure funding to safely abate lead hazards which exist at alarming rates in several parts of our city. Read my full plan for climate and environmental justice
    • Support the Minneapolis Public Schools’ legislative agenda including fully funding programs such as Minnesota’s Rental Assistance Pilot for Homeless and Highly Mobile Families with School Age Children, which successfully housed 90% of families they served
  3. Create a safe environment for youth both inside and outside of the classroom: Instead of criminalizing youth, we must address the root causes of disruptive behavior and youth violence, and invest in alternatives such as transformative justice models, community violence intervention. We need to move away from punishment and towards addressing trauma students bring into the classroom.
    • Partner with MPS to phase out the School Resource Officer program and instead reform discipline programs to decrease out of school suspensions, expulsions, and end arrests of students at school
    • Through the Youth Coordinating Board and other governmental bodies (Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, Hennepin County, and the state legislature):
      • Implement transformative justice programs and diversionary programs for all youth charged with crimes
      • Invest money to hire more social workers and counselors
      • Fund community crime and violence intervention programs
      • Create more high-quality afterschool and summer programming

Works Consulted

Abdi, Kadra, Ayantu Ayana, Ramla Bile, Mohamed H. Mohamed, and Julia Nekessa Opoti. “The Countering Violent Extremism program institutionalizes injustice against Somalis.” MinnPost, May 2015.

Education Policy Information Center. “From exclusionary to restorative: an intentional, trauma-sensitive approach to interrupting racial disparities, reducing violence, strengthening communities, and accelerating student learning. Education Minnesota, March 2017.

Education Policy Information Center. “Our Communities, Our Schools: Closing the Opportunity Gap in Minnesota with Full-Service Schools.” Education Minnesota, August 2015.

Hinrichs, Erin. “New Grow Your Own program aims to diversify Minneapolis teaching corps.” MinnPost, February 2016.

Hinrichs, Erin. “Minneapolis North high school dramatically increased its graduation rate. How’d they do it?” MinnPost, March 2017.

Minneapolis Public Schools. “Behavior Data Visualization Guidebook.” Minneapolis Public Schools, 2017.

Minneapolis Public Schools. “Homeless and Highly Mobile Children and Youth in Minneapolis, MN: 2015-16 School Year Report.” Minneapolis Public Schools, 2016.

Minneapolis Public Schools. “Report of the Annual Racial/Ethnic Count of Students K‐12.” Minneapolis Public Schools, October 2016.

National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated. “Children and Families of the Incarcerated Fact Sheet.” Rutgers University, 2014.

Paquette, Danielle. “One in nine black children has had a parent in prison.” Washington Post, October 2015.

Raghavendran, Beena. “Minneapolis comeback kid North High School shows early success.” Star Tribune, 2017.

Villegas, Ana Maria and Jaqueline Jordan Irvine. “Diversifying the teaching force: An examination of major arguments.” Urban Review, 42 (2010): 175–192.

Zalatoris, Joanne. “Helpful or Harmful: The Role of School Resource Officers.” New America, August 2015.