By David O’Fallon president of Minnesota Humanities Center.
At the Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC), we are developing a strategy to transform education founded on a simple premise: Underlying the achievement gapis a relationship gap.
An authentic person-to-person relationship is the foundation of learning, and it depends on real human engagement between teacher and student. In school, the stronger and more authentic the relationship, the greater the likelihood that a student will learn. A wealth of research supports this.
Relationships are possible and strengthened only when essential stories of the many people and cultures represented in the classroom, school and community are present. These stories – currently unrepresented — are called absent narratives.
Top-down reform and large-scale system-improvement efforts overlook or minimize the all-important relationship. This is a person-to-person problem. Thus, change brought about by technical or structural fixes – curriculum alterations, schedule modifications, high-stakes testing or the introduction of iPads – will be incomplete and have unsatisfactory results.
Since A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform was written in 1983, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to transform education. Results have been disappointing. Obviously, the challenges are complex; no single intervention will transform education.
Reorient School Culture
Our strategy is founded on including and articulating the absent narrative and focused on relationships among people in the human school community and between members of the communities that engage, or would like to engage, with people in the school.
The absent narratives approach reorients school culture. It invites community members to examine how they engage with each other and, most critically, how teachers engage with students. All members of the school community are involved in the discovery and articulation of the missing narratives, which provides a new sense of agency and purpose.
1. Reclaim the absent narrative: When the story of a group of people is marginalized or completely left out of school curriculum, it is an absent narrative. This absence ignores some (or most) of the young people in today’s schools, especially youth of color. Use of a dominant narrative limits and even damages the teacher-child relationship.
2. Create the innocent classroom: This strategy calls on us to see anew the power and the essential nature of the teacher-to-child relationship. It asserts that every child is innocent — desiring and acting toward his or her own goodness. Too often, the innocence of children (especially that of children of color) is obscured by the burden of unexamined and unspoken beliefs.
3. Reconstruct curriculum: This strategy engages teachers in examining current curriculum with an absent narrative lens. The effects are powerful, and new content and teaching approaches develop as a result.
4. Build community narratives: Schools occupy a specific place in a community. Place matters, but it is often ignored. In this strategy, the community is invited to consider place and contribute their own narratives. Stories emerge as content that enlivens the school as a human community and engages young people and adults in new ways.
These elements combine to form a powerful and effective professional development and systems-change approach that is currently being used by 60 teachers in St. Paul and in an urban district outside Minnesota.
by Melissa Cordner of Breaking Brown
If I hear one more person claim the people of Ferguson are “just playing the race card,” I am going to scream. If one more person tells me to calm down because Ferguson “doesn’t affect me,” I am going to scream. The truth, of course, is that we’ve all been screaming for ten days… or for hundreds of years.
WHITE PEOPLE—THIS AFFECTS YOU. White people—I care because I, as an American citizen, CANNOT afford not to. White people—you cannot afford not to care either. Here are some reasons why white people need to educate themselves about, and get involved with, what is going on in Ferguson. Each of these points affects you—your community, your government, your media, your country, your life. Your continued silence on each of these issues implies your continued compliance with them.
- The basics: an UNARMED TEENAGER was shot six times by a police officer. This is a problem no matter what color or nationality or sex or religion or sexual orientation or what-have-you the teenager was. This would also be a problem no matter the age of the person, but the fact the victim was eighteen and starting college within a week adds a particular type of horror to the situation.
- Some people are saying we should care because “it could be you/your child.” This isn’t strictly true. White people don’t get gunned down for no reason in broad daylight by law enforcement. Black people, however, hear this kind of story about people who look like them all the time. FOUR UNARMED BLACK MEN (that we KNOW OF) HAVE BEEN KILLED BY POLICE OFFICERS IN THE LAST MONTH (Google Eric Garner, John Crawford III, and Ezell Ford; I’ll wait). Black people of all genders are murdered or assaulted by law enforcement figures by the HUNDREDS each year; they are treated far rougher and often sentenced far more harshly than white people who are suspected of committing the same crime.
- The fact that you are basically immune to the type of terror many Black people face every day is exactly why you should care. Those voices may not be heard, while YOUR voice has the power to make a difference about it. That is what white privilege is. It is not your fault you were born with it; it is your fault if you aren’t using it for good.
- White culture is one of distrusting anyone different than you. We were raised with it. Racism is not usually blatant or even intentional; it is in the way you put your hand over your wallet when a Black man passes you on the sidewalk, or the way you really mean “Black neighborhood” when you say “bad neighborhood,” or the way you never question that the Black guy is never innocent on TV crime shows. You have been brainwashed into being a jerk and perpetuating the system you (even unintentionally) benefit from. Many aspects of the current struggle in Ferguson are proof of this; your silence on it is more obvious proof still.
- If this was a white unarmed teenager, and the offending officer was first protected by a staunch commitment to anonymity by the police department, and later revealed but not arrested, the ENTIRE NATION would look like Ferguson looks right now. Black people are not “playing the race card”—Black people are speaking out against a systematic centuries-old oppression of which law enforcement is an intrinsic part. Families that look like Mike Brown’s teach their children not to make sudden movements in front of a police officer as surely as families that look like mine teach their children not to merge without checking their blind spot.
AmeriCorps Inner City Tutors Program Gets Short End Of Wage And Benefits Stick, But It’s The Children In North Minneapolis Who Pay The Ultimate Price…
As posted by The Adventures of Johnny Northside
Minneapolis, Minn. – A recent article republished on Twin Cities Daily Planet, but originally published in Insight News, (click here for the article)highlights the fact our North Minneapolis schools need 150 tutors for math and literacy.
In case that number didn’t register, let me stomp my virtual foot and highlight it more. Our North Minneapolis schools need ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY TUTORS to teach our children basic math and literacy…
…and how will we get them? How will we get these desperately needed tutors?
Well, the article mentions the AmeriCorp program.
Yes, the AmeriCorps program could potentially provide the tutors, if only young people would volunteer for those AmeriCorps positions. And so, apparently with a perfectly straight face, the Insight News article proceeds to outline what these precious and desperately needed AmeriCorps tutors would earn for their vital service, as follows:
Tutors commit to a year of service, during which they undergo training and earn a living allowance of up to $526 biweekly and an education award of up to $5,645 to help pay for furthering their own education. Full-time tutors are also eligible to receive health insurance.
OK, readers, lets get out our scratch paper calculators and figure out how much these tutors will be earning. First of all, $526 biweekly works out to $263 weekly.
Let me once again stomp my virtual foot. TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY THREE DOLLARS A WEEK to tutor inner city children. Why is this called a “living allowance” instead of wages, I wonder? I suppose because if you call it “wages” somebody might actually say “But those are terrible wages. I could make more working a low end job doing almost anything else!”
Yes. You could.
Oh, but let’s examine that $5,645 tuition credit, shall we? Sounds like a lot of money, but keep in mind you must work a year to earn that credit. And there are (last time I checked) 52 weeks in a year.
Let’s keep the math simple and round to 50. So 100 times 50 equals 5,000 which takes care of most of that money. OK, but then then throw in the leftover 2 weeks, which takes care of another $200 and leaves $445 left over.
So, really, it’s about 100 bucks a week. Take that 100 bucks and add it to the $263 “living allowance” you would be raking in about $363 a week. Plus health insurance. Think of the remaining $445 as a Christmas bonus…which can only be used for tuition, not presents for your family.
And keep in mind…you have to work your full year to get that tuition bonus. And it can ONLY be applied to tuition. As for health insurance, well, it’s not the precious and hard-to-obtain commodity it used to be. And I wonder if it’s free to the AmeriCorps employee or if the employee has to pay insurance premiums out of that skinny little “living allowance?”
In summary, these wages and benefits offered to would-be tutors of inner-city children is an abysmal package and it’s no wonder there are 150 spaces. I’m guessing when the school year starts any red-hot second there will be about 149 spaces left. Or, in the alternative, local people who aren’t too qualified but desperately need jobs will be shoved into some of those spaces.
That wouldn’t be such a bad thing, though. Even if not good at “math and literacy tutoring,” per se, extra hands would be helpful in the classroom especially if possessing positive mothering and fathering skills.
But who knows what will happen with the 150 spaces? Hopefully Insight News will follow up with additional information as the school year starts. How many tutoring positions got filled? What were the qualifications of those who filled them?Did each of the volunteers receive their free ball cap with AmeriCorps logo or were they paid in promises?
Practically since the inception of AmeriCorps, this fine program has been limping along on far less money than it needs and deserves. Idealistic people join the AmeriCorps cause, and idealistic people get paid in the nebulous currency of good feelings and kind words…in addition to the insulting wages outlined above.
It’s no wonder their term of service is a year. Because three months is about how long it takes a person to wise up but then realize they better play this bad hand and gut it out until the end of their year.
Who pays the ultimate price? The children who need these tutors. And society, when these tutor-less children grow up lacking math and literacy skills. There are also hidden costs to society when idealistic people like these AmeriCorps volunteers realize they’ve been used, and tell themselves, “Never again will I work for so little and allow myself to be taken advantage of because of my starry eyed idealism.”
We can do better. But will we? I think a start to “doing better” involves “doing the math” and pointing out in a public way THIS JUST DOESN’T ADD UP.
I sincerely hope our new Minneapolis school board members, who will be elected in the next election, will be taking up this issue of grossly, embarrassingly underpaid AmeriCorps tutors.
St. Paul, MN September 2, 2014: Michelle MacDonald is preparing a complaint to file with Judges at the Office of Administrative Hearings against the Republican Party Executive committee, Keith Downey, Pat Anderson, attorney Patrick Burns, and others for alleged violations of various provisions Minnesota’s Fair Campaign Practice Statute, Minn. Stat. 211B, and will be contacting authorities about alleged violations for criminal statutes, including Coercion, 609.27. MacDonald, together with former Republican Endorsed Supreme Court Candidate Greg Wersal will hold a press conference on Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 3:00PM in Rm.181 of the State Office Building located at 100 Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr Blvd. St. Paul MN 55155 to discuss specific violations of the Fair Campaign Practices, Minn. Stat. 211B. Main entrance is at the front of the building. Public and disabled accessibility is on south side on John Ireland or in Lot F.
MacDonald will review cases of constitutional challenges, and free speech disposed of by the Minnesota Supreme Court, since her endorsement, with clients on hand. In one case, she was made to represent a client in a child custody trial in handcuffs, a wheelchair, with no shoes, no glasses, no paper, no pen, no files and no client, that client told her attorney was arrested, and the trial was over. This ordeal, and her overnight jail experience was caught on security video, withheld by the Dakota county attorney’s office.
Michelle MacDonald was endorsed by the Republican Party to run against Justice David Lillehaug, appointed by Governor Dayton. Michelle supports the people’s right to vote for Judges, as provided in the Minnesota Constitution, Article 6, section 7). Since that time, officials from the Republican Party of Minnesota have acted to negatively influence the campaign for justice of Michelle MacDonald. www.MacDonaldfor Justice.com. This includes blocking her from the GOP booth, and threatening messages and phone calls to MacDonald to refrain from being a candidate and repudiate the endorsement in the upcoming Midterm Election November 4, or her reputation and her business would be damaged if she did not repudiate the party’s endorsement by noon.
Do you know the average weekly pay of black men versus black women? What about the percentage of black people in white-collar positions? This Labor Day, take a look at the stats. (They don’t in the Twin Cities.)
I thought for a minute the people of Minneapolis had lost a friend, colleague and community activist. But down from the mountaintop, deep from under the sea, and from way up in the sky, “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no wait…it’s the old Al Flowers!”
By Donald Allen, Founder – The Independent Business News Network
Minneapolis, Minn. – Full disclosure. That’s wait Al Flowers is talking about. After a group of “freelancers” met with governor Mark Dayton’s staff with ideas about how to “get the black community moving forward,” Flowers was not invited even though the group is using elements of Community Standards Initiatives (CSI) and another advocate for K-12 education Mr. Wesley Smith’s Drop Outs to Drop Ins. Both men have not been invited to the table, but in the case of Mr. Smith, he assist public, charter and private schools in registering over 300 students; the irony: he did not have one local state or federal grant; it came out of his humble pockets.
My question is why are these “freelancers” reinventing the wheel? Why don’t they call Mr. Flowers or Mr. Smith? Are their efforts going to help the whole community?
The video above was filmed at the 2008 groundbreaking ceremony for the building on Penn Avenue and West Broadway. Flowers publicly confronts former mayor R.T. Rybak about civil rights and Rybak’s obvious lack of commitment to community. Watch closely at the people around Flowers who want him to stop; this alone is telling in itself.
As the black community’s “freelancers” prepare for the fall offense promising community members “10,000 jobs” like in the winter of 2014 (which never happened), it seems like a good time to continue being critical of a flawed process in hopes for more “Old Al Flowers” to step out and be heard.
Governor Mark Dayton must create a transparent process when giving money to African Americans who have failed the black community
Community Standards Initiative’s (CSI) founder Alfred Flowers was not asked to attend Tuesday’s meeting with the governor and community freelancers.
by Don Allen, Founder – The Independent Business News Network
A local group of African American “freelancers,” including clergy, failed charter school headmaster, failed business entrepreneur and members of the DFL African American Caucus are currently meeting with Gov. Dayton with a budget in-hand to cure the ills of victims in the black community. At this point, it would be wise for Gov. Dayton to ask for the reports on Dairy Queen, Tires Plus, Burger King, The City, Inc. and just about every program this group has come in contact with has failed catastrophically –of course the money is gone.
The problem begins when the governor’s office does not realize the voice of the black community in Minnesota is broad – more so, broader than the group brought forward. This group of community freelancers is looking for the next paycheck and of course the work never gets done and never talked about after the fact.
The freelancers never held a town hall meeting; never once asked people outside their inept circle of money-grubbing bastards to critique or identify a better strategy. If this called “thinking without thinking,” Minnesota’s black community is in big trouble.
Before a dime of money is granted to any of these folks, a Request for Proposal must be issues along with “community presentation” for each respondent to present their proposal to the community. Only than will we have a transparent process of engagement.
Here’s how it will look:
Qualifications: This RFP is open to local businesses, nonprofit organizations and individual seeking to participate. In the calendar years 2012, 2013 your businesses, nonprofit organizations and individual net income cannot be over $100,000.00 per year stated. (This will assist in making the smaller and functioning nonprofits submit a proposal.)
1. Request for Proposals to address issues of youth violence, unemployment, education and teen pregnancy in north Minneapolis.
A) Respondents will have 60-days to complete a detailed work scope showing active partnerships within the African American community and those partnerships outside of the black community.
2. Request for Proposals will be submitted and each submission will be scheduled for a presentation (15-minutes) before the governor and members of the philanthropic community of the Twin Cities. (Only seven responses will be picked)
B) Each respondent will present why his/her program will be the best to engage the local community.
3. Request for Proposals will then be presented (10-minutes each) to community members in a Town Hall meeting format. A survey will be taken after all the presentations have been made
C) Each respondent would be able to lobby for his/her response.
4. Based on the community response, an organization can be picked.
D) Respondent must have a website that tracks every dollar and how the money is being spent. Also, every two weeks a press release must be issued for the duration of the grant taking about successes, challenges and works in progress.
Don’t get mad at us for telling the truth. You know that what we’re saying is right. This is the only way it can work.
The Your Black World team had a meeting and decided upon a few ways that we could tell that black America has lost it’s mind under President Obama. We don’t know which way is up or down, and it seems that good politics has been thrown out the window. So, here’s a list of ways that we know that black people have lost their minds over the last five years. No, the list is not meant to be funny:
1) If gay people, immigrants and women have an agenda, it’s considered good politics. When black people form an agenda, it’s considered to be an attack on the president.
2) When every black commentator on MSNBC and TheGrio always supports every policy put out by the Obama Administration. We expect that, pretty soon, they’ll all grow perms like Al Sharpton.
3) When anyone who questions the Obama Administration policies is called a hater, even if they voted for him.
4) When people just think that 14% black unemployment is business as usual, but 7% white unemployment is a crisis.
5) When Bush does something, it’s horrible, racist and criminal. But when Obama does the same thing, it’s considered good leadership
6) When people decided that “shut up and don’t bother the president” became a good political strategy
7) When a Republican says something racist, we go on the attack. When a Democrat says something racist, it’s all good.
8) When we give a politician 95% of the black vote and still think that we don’t have a right to ask for anything.
9) When black leaders and civil rights groups are more excited about fighting for gay marriage than they are for racial equality.
10) When a president can tell a group of black men at Morehouse that “nobody cares if you were discriminated against,” but then says that he does care when a woman says she was sexually assaulted or a gay man says that he was bullied.
Don’t get mad at us for telling the truth. You know that what we’re saying is right.
If the city of Minneapolis wanted equity for real, it would not take more than 30-days to put a plan together. Wanting to promote a “two-year effort to address racial equity” is nothing more than a symptom that tells us, you do not know what the hell you’re doing.
By Don Allen, Founder – Black Politics in Minneapolis
Minneapolis, Minn. – I find it hard to believe Minneapolis city councilperson Elizabeth Glidden along side Minneapolis’ civil rights director Velma Korbel could hash a plan that could even look like city hall cared about equity. City council president Barb Johnson should be upset; the city of Minneapolis as far back as 2007 hasn’t a clue about defining equity, nor have they actively enforced ordnances already on the books to make sure all resident of the city are treated fair and equitable.
The city’s ongoing “Equitable Solutions for One Minneapolis,” which is a two-year effort to address long-standing concerns about racial equity in the city, is a cover up of a smokescreen that amounts to nothing more than a “paper news release” public relations campaign supported by news outlets like the Star Tribune and nonprofit news outlet MinnPost.
The desired outcome for the “Equitable Solutions for One Minneapolis,” is to provide staff that support a City board or commission a tool to enhance the composition of those bodies to be more reflective of the community they serve, and incorporate the principles of the Racial Equity Assessment in board and commission decision-making. Still, to this day the two-page document still does not make any sense.
The telling sign that Minneapolis’ civil rights director Velma Korbel has dropped the ball again; just like on the Minnesota Vikings project and the city of Minneapolis equity plan her department was to develop last June 2013. The city of Minneapolis has “many” construction projects happening, if the civil rights department actually wanted “equity,” they could start by enforcing contract compliance.
“The Waffler,” a nickname given to city councilperson Elizabeth Glidden by local political, civil rights and community activist comes from a 2009 encounter where then civil rights director Michael Jordan rejected several community people from a public meeting at city hall who had permission from Councilperson Glidden to attend. Glidden would not confront Jordan by walking these six people back to the meeting. She cowered in her office, apologizing. Some of us know, if she (Glidden) is involved, do not expect more than a public relations campaign on paper.
We live in a world driven by a construct of erotic sexual voyeuristic desires. The people who control identity know this, if this wasn’t the case, Ms. Minaj would only have to use her voice and dancing style – not her ass and boobs. But there is another underlying question, “Was it okay 20 years ago for recording artist Sir Mix a Lot to record and make a video titled “Baby Got Back?”
By Don Allen, Founder – OurBlackNews.com
United States of America – To try and understand the artist named Nicki Minaj, one might have to reference history by decoding Suzan-Lori Parks Venus for historical references to the black female body performing as a freak of nature and use Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning for more examples of non-normative society. My story here will effectively expand on how the rituals of socioeconomic rejection for the non-normative black body are historically and constructively designed to obstruct participation in economic value for performance. Using The Critique of Capitalism: Wage, Labor and Capital, with a Marxist lens will show an intersectionality between the price of a commodity – how that price is determined, but more importantly, who decides.
To further unlock the meanings of the fetishes of public consumption for the black female body in a construct of erotic sexual voyeuristic desires from a white male-patriarchal society that dismisses all legal capital gain for the black body, expanding the blind spots in Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s The Body Politic and Michel Foucault’s, The History of Sexuality will assist to compare and contrast examples of domination and discrimination against the black body by rejecting not only its culture, but predetermining its limitations within a global white-male, mainstream construct that controls the apparatus that shapes agency, wealth, capital and power by defining identities.
The social silos created within the non-normal social constructs of black body are a defense mechanism that provides escape for the black body from overt and covert class and race oppression. This story will show the black body and impoverishment are inextricably bound together due to a historically and repeated violent economic devaluing based on race, color and sexual orientation. What role does the objectification of the non-normative black body play in the socioeconomic marginalization building on historical assumptions of black worth?
Okay, I just got done watching Nicki Minaj’s sexually charged, booty-exposing “Anaconda” video. I have to admit she is a beautiful woman, but I did not have to see that much of her ass to come to that conclusion (Read Suzan-Lori Parks Venus). Here’s the personal dilemma I have; is it now acceptable for black women to be tried and judged by the size of their asses and not their intellectual content? What happens to the black boys and girls who see this video during the formative years of sexual development (Read Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s The Body Politic)?
Are black boys supposed to, as Nicki put it, bypass “skinny bitches” in favor for some woman who’s claim to fame in song is that she could swallow unimaginable thick long things and her butt can be used as a vagina? Hey, that’s what the song is implying (Watch Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning)? If we look at black-on-black crime (Minneapolis), we see a trend of killings that involves relationship related retaliations. Is the relationship between a black man and a black woman consistent on the black woman’s ass? I think not. The entertainment business has another view all together.
Since art imitates life and there will unfortunately be some women all across the world who might think having their asses hanging out, barely covered is pretty (you should know better in Minnesota because some of you are corn-fed), what message is the music industry sending to our black men and women? We already know the demographic that purchases CD’s is 12-18 – and the majority (more than 90% are white teenagers). So I ask you in what alternate universe did the sex and the Asses of black women become the capital for monetization? (Read The Critique of Capitalism: Wage, Labor and Capital)
Again, in 2014 those who command the definitions of human identity have once again reconstructed definitions of the lower caste of people by unloading trash bags full of rhetoric and propaganda in an effort to maintain stereotypes of the poor and minorities to keep in ritual with the American Dream of an urban utopia controlled by white masculinity that has historically been the headmaster in the circus of identity. If this group even thinks they will lose control, they can implement dangerous and desperate measures including mass genocide of economic bases for the poor – both black and white.
Nicki Minaj’s “ass” represents the only thing the white-male social construct wants to see from black women. Black men should be outraged, but hell, when we raise our voices, some of our own, sell us out. I understand completely that Ms. Minaj is an “entertainer” and is taking us “to the edge” but is that a good place to go? Maybe if America had equity for everyone, and there was never any slavery; everyone had a job and there were no poor or homeless people – but still, would we need Nicki Minaj’s ass to be happy?