News and Information
Sunday December 21st 2014
The Independent Business News Network was established in July of 2008. The goal of IBNN is to provide a different view of the local, national and global news and events that happen in the Black communities around the world. IBNN's expectations are to provide a level of coverage and investigative reporting not seen on local mainstream media, while covering Politics, Education, Money, Business, and Community events. IBNN is an affiliate of Black Politics in Minneapolis, Radical Black USA and other African American news sources. Comments, concerns and questions can be emailed to

The Dilemma created by Designer Poverty and Education: Bill Davis and CSI

Photo: Bill Davis and Sen. Jeff Hayden. Both longterm members of the Minnesota DFL. If this is change, I want my dollar back.

Photo: Bill Davis and Sen. Jeff Hayden. Both longterm members of the Minnesota DFL. If this is change, I want my dollar back.

If elected officials of the Republican Party of Minnesota have allegedly done what members of the DFL have done, many would ask for their heads on a platter. Now, lets be fair and balanced.

We have a problem in the black community that many do not want to address. While I would like to see new black business owners, millionaires and leaders who actually can do the right thing, it seems in Minnesota we let people from other states come here and take the lead as we sit back in a subservient manor not willing to challenge the people who use our people like a cash crop. Many of our so called self-appointed leaders have sold out to a political party that has now you can see, takes our only power (our vote) for granted. In 2014, if you can vote and your a black person or other person of color, for this upcoming election, do not vote for anyone associated with the Minnesota Democratic Farm Labor party. I know this will create a challenge for you because I’m not telling you to vote for a Republican candidate either. Do your homework and use one of the only powers you have to change the course of history for you, your family and friends in Minnesota.

by Donald Allen, Founder - The Independent Business News Network

Minneapolis, Minn. – There is something to be said about organizations, politicians and community spokespersons who become ingrained in a process of using humans as a way to gain access for funding and dismissing the notion of helping their cash crop to become stable and acquire some type of standardized normalcy.

In the Twin Cities some are “told” what they are, where to go and who they can be. This is a sad documentary on defining humanity, culture and identity in 2014.

Residents of the Twin Cities, especially those residing in areas with large populations of blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Somali, whites and the poor have seen a down-tick in proactive engagement and services. In most cases the right process would lift service-dependent clients up from current norms into an abnormal hemisphere of self-sufficiency while stabilizing their foundations into a station of strength, solidarity and forward progress. For that to happen, poverty in the Twin Cities would need to have an expiration date – an elimination of life-disrupting incidents brought on by circumstance, environments and the political infrastructure.

The protagonist blocking the success of the lower one-third and middle-class in the Twin Cities are those who operated in the areas of non-profit organizations whose life’s-blood depends on the next grant; number of poor, homeless, unhealthy, unemployed, untrained, uneducated and of course poor children. I need to make it very clear; there is a need for these agencies, but not at the current levels. A consolidation of repeat programing could form a cohesive tracking of those in need to the next level of personal success versus the multi-facetted referral system, which in most cases has too many interconnected loopholes that leads to missing those who really need the assistance.

Designer Poverty in the Twin Cities is a multi-billion dollar business. The people who benefit, for the most part don’t live within the boarders of the Twin Cities. To stay in business, successful measurable outcomes must be limited; focus must be narrow and the usual suspects must develop a secret agenda absent of the mainstream.

The ideology of non-profit social service agencies have been replaced with a “bank-like” operation that in most cases only helps itself.

Minnesota Senate Republicans only need three to testify on Ethics Inquiry

Will Gov. Mark Dayton work to find the truth or run misdirects for his special two. (Photo: IBNN)

Will Gov. Mark Dayton work to find the truth or run misdirects for his special two. (Photo: IBNN)

Sometimes you do not have to mention any names. It all comes out in the mix by asking the salient questions about an organizations makeup and the fact someone had no business dealing with education for black youth. There is but one question that needs to be asked: “What academic background and experience do you have to assist in closing the achievement gap?” Let the fur fly.

By Don Allen, Founder

Minneapolis, Minn. – Minnesota republicans are playing a strategic role, meticulous and brilliantly carried out. They want answers and so does the black community. This is a tipping point in the gubernatorial race as Minnesotans from all cultures are concerned about the interactions between Gov. Mark Dayton and a few black community members set to present a budget of $10 million for some kind of cockamamie GED scheme. Minnesota’s black community leadership organizations have not called a press conference in support of DFL Sen. Jeff Hayden being the target of a senate ethics inquiry. There are two complaints in question in response to the recent alleged incident of bullying and playing favors for family and friends. The “throwing under the bus” by black freelancers (leadership) has never been so eloquent.

 It goes like this per Fox News

  1. That Sen. Hayden used his influence as a state senator to push the Minneapolis School Board into approving a $375,000 no-bid contract to the Community Standards Initiative, “an organization that financially benefited his friends and family members.”
  1. That Sen. Hayden participated in the misuse of state grant money as a board member of Community Action of Minneapolis. A state audit found Community Action of Minneapolis spent more than $871,000 in grants on lavish trips, golf outings and a personal car loan for CEO Bill Davis. Hayden resigned from the board, but it was actually his wife, Terri, who served in his place. In a statement Tuesday, Hayden said he “was not aware of any of the questionable spending detailed in the audit.” He also added, “neither Terri or I accepted compensation for any cruises, spas, vacations to the Bahamas, or any other inappropriate, non-board activities.” He did say he and his wife attended the organization’s retreat at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, but he contends he paid his own way.

Anyone in the community that had dealing with the organizations involved, specifically CSI, knows that something terrible was going on for Sup. Johnson to even looks that direction and consider putting money for what we can call today a “failed attempt” to close the Achievement Gap.

It is this blogs perspective that senate republicans only need to call three people, not including Senator Jeff Hayden to find out what really happened and why approving a $375,000 no-bid contract to the Community Standards Initiative was an alleged bad “forced” idea. Soon the community will find out the organization that financially benefited and friends and family members who played the system while our black youth continue to fail in the Minneapolis Public Schools.


The Ron and Don Show: In the name of God and Poor People – Wednesday, 8:30pm

Who will pull us out of the crapper now? (photo: The Wrong Stuff - Fair USE)

Who will pull us out of the crapper now? (photo: The Wrong Stuff – Fair USE)

All Pitbulls are dogs, but all Dogs are not Pitbulls.” ~A wise man

By The Ron and Don Show – (Tune in at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 24 by clicking here and call in to speak with the host at (347) 426-3904.)

Minneapolis, Minn. – The economic downturn that some say keep black folk away from the church on Sunday mornings is the same downturn that has let local politicians bully community members and local agency leaders. Along with the lack of community leadership to address local issues we have catastrophic fails in developmental processes to address poverty and economic development.  A “show” at the state capital is great, but these dog and pony shows have never addressed the needs of the people. The usual suspects must be stopped. Our community dies each day when a bad deal goes down.

The black community must now come together to replace leadership/politicians in the community who act as moc-representatives of black folk in the Twin Cities. In some cases these people cannot read, don’t own a computer and have no idea what an email address look like – yet are welcomed with open arms into educational facilities; local non-profits like some kind of royalty. We must reset the current relationships with black elected officials who have not done due diligence on behalf of the community.

From my understanding of the bible and religion in general, God wants us to do great works. Each of us has our own niche in life; each of us contributes in our own way. Unfortunately, “great works” does not mean taking the money from the poor.

The challenge stands with the current leaders who say they represent us (blacks), but are quick in judgment with contempt prior to investigation to marginalize and dismiss the fringe of the black community.

The jealousy that spews out from some of the self-appointed black leadership (freelancers) in the Twin Cities has gridlocked the community in a perpetual circle of broken promises and deceit.

I’m saying the time has now come to identify, expose and uncover the processes that has stopped new leadership and bankrupt our community. We can no longer let community-funding fall in the hands of manipulators that have learned the game of secure funds selfishly for themselves.

UPDATE (Sept. 22 0426): Star Tribune accurately reports on wasteful nonprofit spending and political bullying by state senators

Something is wrong when two state senators cry foul.

Something is wrong when two state senators cry foul?

UPDATE: Senator Bobby Joe Champion must answer how he pushed through the state legislature $50,000 for the Minn. Department of Human Rights for an “event planner” without having formal hearings. 

Don Allen and Ron Edwards are waiting (with popcorn) for the “race card” to be played at any point now. Can’t wait to read the StairStep Foundation investigation. There is something to be said when black people trained in 2005 are the same black people unemployed in 2014. #waste

By Don Allen, Founder –

Minneapolis, Minn. – Since 2005, the team of Ronald A. Edwards (historian and the most quoted African American in the Star Tribune), and award winning journalist Donald Allen (, USA Radical Black and Black Politics in Minneapolis) have reporting about the wasteful spending and mismanaged politically driven funds to nonprofits across the Twin Cities, especially in north Minneapolis. We were called, “Hackle and Jackal,” told by a north Minneapolis nonprofit leader we both needed to take our medication; and a former police officer turned Facebook activist said in a post, “Don hates black men and loves to bash them.” Of course this is untrue but the fact of the matter is none of these people will answer questions about money mismanagement, lack of process and how someone can do outreach with no platform and spend money with people that cannot read or write and call it successful.

The story in the Star Tribune is something I’ve been reporting on since 2005. Maybe not specifically about Minneapolis Community Action – but always asking the question on how MCA could sponsor a sports program on KMOJ-FM and leaders of nonprofit use taxpayer money to pay for a celebrity cruise and trips to Palm Beach and the Bahamas, according to a recently completed state audit as reported by the Star Tribune. We need to check on the StarStep Foundation and their recent grant from the fledgling MNSure. What happened to that money? Why are 18 out of 20 African Americans IBNN has talked to not signed up?

For Minneapolis Community Action to never be on a “real” mission for people in poverty can be seen in current levels of poverty in the Twin Cities today. The same people that were in poverty in 2005 are more than likely (increased), the same 2014. It is shameful to say, this is part of a local political plantation that squashes new leadership, keeps people poor and most importantly takes for granted the votes from this caste of people. Do I need to say their name? It ain’t the Republicans.

The second item that needs to be address shows what happens when someone without a college degree and a lawyer join forces to write a public response (should have called me), (LOL!).

The guilt ridden story, “Contrary to report, Minneapolis school officials weren’t bullied to back program,” in the Star Tribune, authored by Senators Jeff Hayden and Bobby Joe Champion are bad examples of when something goes wrong, “ass-covering” is the name of the game. I believe the Minneapolis Public School district; I believe that state senators went in on a mission of intimidation and bullying. A long-standing political activist wrote:

I believe that Champion definitely bullied officials. What you may not know is Champion has a history of bullying people by either going directly after their jobs or trying to block what they want to get through the legislature. You should talk to some of his colleagues up at the Capitol; they will give you an ear full about Champion. In addition, you may feel that the first article about the MPLS School Board considering denying funds to CSI, was an attack on your Al Flowers, and it might be. However, I’m concerned with the lack of process when it came to granting CSI the funds in the first place. I will say it again: one, there should have been an open bid process; and two, the representatives of CSI do NOT have the expertise needed to close the achievement gap: let’s be real here. I hold the MPLS Public Schools accountable as they are the one’s who initiated the funds/contract in the first place. This current school board is a joke. Come on. Let’s get real. As a resident of north Minneapolis and a taxpayer this needs to STOP! The poverty pimping of this community (north Minneapolis) needs to STOP! And you of all people some of us know that poverty pimping is going on over here. Let’s wake up here folks and face the truth!”

There should be an investigation by the County Attorney to see if the senators did try and use coercion to get what you wanted. If they find evidence that they did, a Grand Jury should be impaneled to present evidence.

It looks like after ten-years people are starting to wake up about what’s really happening in our community. There is a movement working to move-out this old guard of money-hungry poverty pimps, politicians and clergy to be replaced by an effective “team” of black men and women who will regain the trust of the mainstream black community once again.

Remember, this is not about “bashing” black men and women who get caught with their hands too deep in the cookie jar. This is about accountability. Anyone who misdirects this fact is one of those involved in receiving gains from keeping black people in poverty. Remember, the poor minority community in the Twin Cities is a cash crop for a handful of nonprofit poverty pimps who for the most part don’t live within five-miles of north Minneapolis who take up residence in Woodbury, Edina, Minnetonka, Bloomington, Eagan, Apple Valley and Rosemount.

Minneapolis Police Chief not truthful about canceling appearance at community meeting

"Mpls communications department working overtime to spin a "poop" statement" (photo: IBNN)

“Mpls communications department working overtime to spin a “poop” statement” (photo: IBNN)

In a city full of spins, lies, sex and video tape the chief’s statement is nothing but smoke without the mirrors.


In a statement released to KSTP-TV, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said, “The Minneapolis Police Department received creditable information from a long-standing community leader there were threats made against her and Minneapolis Police officers.” This was the reason Chief Harteau did not show up Thursday night at Sabathani Community Center in south Minneapolis for a candid town hall discussion.

Of course you guessed correct, “It’s all bullshit.” It’s obvious that Chief Harteau and some of her officers forgot they have the weapons and the power to control any situation in a crowd no bigger than 150 people who attended Thursday’s event. I’m sure the police chief’s thinking was along the lines of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and she not wanting to be in a room full of “savages.”

Who is this, “long-standing community leader?” Why didn’t this person(s) stand next to the chief in support of her decision to cancel the appearance? Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau is receiving bad intelligence form some asshat that wants to make a name; or get some money for some Poverty-Pimpin’ program.


One hundred and thirty-two years later, there is still no public monument for Charles Thurber, a Black man lynched in Grand Forks, North Dakota

Thurber was accused of raping the wife of a prominent railroad employee and a "Norwegian serving girl." At least one source says the servant girl recanted her story, throwing a lot of doubt upon whether Thurber did anything to those women or was simply a Black man in the wrong place at the wrong time. In any case, Thurber was executed by a lawless mob without the benefit of a trial during an era when such racially-motivated lynchings happened all over the nation.

Thurber was accused of raping the wife of a prominent railroad employee and a “Norwegian serving girl.” At least one source says the servant girl recanted her story, throwing a lot of doubt upon whether Thurber did anything to those women or was simply a Black man in the wrong place at the wrong time. In any case, Thurber was executed by a lawless mob without the benefit of a trial during an era when such racially-motivated lynchings happened all over the nation.

By Johnny Northside – Guest Columnist – IBNN NEWS

On October 24, 1882, a Black man named Charles Thurber was hauled out of the jail in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and lynched by a mob. It was a brutal and messy affair, even by the standards of a lynch mob. Two competing groups both tried to put a rope on Thurber’s neck at the same time while he was being dragged through the streets, and he was probably already dead by the time his body dangled from a railroad bridge on the border between North Dakota and Minnesota. By a few feet, Thurber’s body was on the Minnesota side of the river, which I say makes it our business to say something.

Thurber was accused of raping the wife of a prominent railroad employee and a “Norwegian serving girl.” At least one source says the servant girl recanted her story, throwing a lot of doubt upon whether Thurber did anything to those women or was simply a Black man in the wrong place at the wrong time. In any case, Thurber was executed by a lawless mob without the benefit of a trial during an era when such racially-motivated lynchings happened all over the nation.

Why bring this up now? Well, let me tell you…

From early 2000 until 2005, I resided in Grand Forks, North Dakota where I was even a member of the city council for a brief time. As both a public official and then, later, a columnist for the local student paper, I kept trying to bring up the matter of Charles Thurber and point out no monument existed to mark the site of this grave historic injustice. Indeed, even the old railroad bridge was torn down and scrapped without ceremony around that same period of time.

In stark contrast, the city of Duluth, Minnesota erected a beautiful and prominent monument to commemorate the deaths of three African American circus workers who were killed after being falsely accused of raping a White woman. But Grand Forks has not  remedied this dark, unjust chapter in its history. And there’s a good reason for such lack of introspection, besides the usual ugly and unsettling aspects of a racially-motivated mob murder.

A long trail of historic documentation can’t help but be embarrassing to the Grand Forks Herald, which is still the most prominent media entity in that part of the world. Let me draw your attention to this little bit of doggrel poetry which appeared in that publication in 1882 as part of a story on the front page. This was beneath a headline containing a racial expletive directed at Charles Thurber.

Brace yourself to be profoundly shocked and offended.

Quiet and Peace Entirely Restored
and with an Investigation no One will be Bored
Public Opinion Carefully Sifted
and Every One Rejoices that the Negro was lifted
No Investigation Required
and None Need Fear for Themselves in the Trouble being mired
Thurber, the Negro Rapest (sic) Fell off the Bridge and was Hurt

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say almost the entire town was implicated in the death, one way or another. The Grand Forks Herald said so in 1882.

Here are the exact words:

Mr O.M. Thomas drove the body, incased [sic] in a plain coffin, to the cemetery. No mourners or even spectators followed. It was decided that no inquest would be held. No one demanded it and nobody wanted it. Directly or indirectly, almost the entire town was implicated. There being not the slightest pretension to secrecy, no investigation as to the means of this death was necessary. It is understood the he fell of (sic) the bridge and was hurt.

Yesterday public comment over the lynching of Thurber completely subsided, and while it was the universal theme of conversation, yet it was mainly good humored comment and recitals of the amusing episodes omitted from the reports.

When I lived in Grand Forks, each October I would try to raise the profile of the issue of Charles Thurber’s murder by mob violence and the need for a fitting historical marker. I was not alone in my opinion. The vast majority of college students at the University of North Dakota, when enlightened about this issue, were inclined to quickly agree a monument for Charles Thurber would be a good thing. Of course, resounding silence was always the response by the local powers-that-be.

When I left Grand Forks in 2005 to live near my little son in the Twin Cities (my son was little back then) and I ultimately ended up in North Minneapolis, this was one of the Grand Forks issues I cared about but was forced to leave behind me, unresolved. One thing I did manage to achieve for this issue, even after leaving Grand Forks, was to start a Wikipedia page for Charles Thurber. But sadly I have left this issue untouched since about 2005 and, so far as I can determine, I was the leader on that bandwagon.

Something reminded me today. I’m not sure what, exactly. Maybe the way an autumn leaf falls a certain way and when I lived in Grand Forks and that used to trigger something in my mind:

October is approaching again. It is time to raise the issue of Charles Thurber.

With “ceasefire breaking out all over” in the NoMi Blog Wars, the issue of Charles Thurber seems like “common ground” I can share with Don Allen of IBNN.

Even people who may not always agree about how to achieve racial justice and equality in this great nation of ours can look at something that happened 132 years ago and say, in unison, “Oh, my word, that was a terrible thing and why isn’t there some kind of monument to mark the spot?”

Two voices can speak more loudly than one. And if two voices speak loudly, maybe more voices begin to speak. Maybe we begin to speak together about all those areas of common ground. (Underpaid AmeriCorps tutors, cough cough) 

It is time to speak. It is time to speak about what happened to Charles Thurber 132 years ago and why there is no memorial to acknowledge a grave historical injustice.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek on the Ron and Don Show – Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.

Tune in Wednesday night for the award winning program, The Ron and Don Show on #BlogTalkRadio. Our special guest is none other than Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. To listen to the program or visit the show page, click here or copy and paste the following link:

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek with Ronald A. Edwards and Don Allen on #BlogTalkRadio. (photo: Facebook - Fair Use)

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek with Ronald A. Edwards and Don Allen on #BlogTalkRadio. (photo: Facebook – Fair Use)

By The Ron and Don Show

The City Pages wrote, “If Rich Stanek wins a third term as Hennepin County Sheriff, he’ll do so without the support of his deputies. In July, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Deputies Association announced it’s overwhelmingly supporting the candidacy of Minneapolis Police Assistant Chief Eddie Frizell, who is running to take Stanek’s job.”

Join the team of Ronald A. Edwards and Don Allen as our special guest is Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. In an unscientific poll conducted by the Independent Business News Network in August 2014 showed Sheriff Stanek leading Frizell in double-digits. We start the show with Sheriff Stanek who is happy to tell us about what it takes to be a leader in Hennepin County.

Topics include:

  • We also cover the Community Standards Initiative (CSI) and hope someone in that organization can find a phone number, report or mission to let us know what really happened between the school board, Director Rebecca Gagnon, Al Flowers and Clarence Hightower. Sources tell IBNN NEWS that CSI was expecting a check on this past Monday for $49,000.00 – but did not get it. (Watch R.T. Rybak closely.)
  • Also in the room will be the absurd discussion about a handful of community “freelancers” putting together a budget of $10 million dollars (mostly salaries) to present to the governor for more community pimping. The two African American state senators put the STOP on that!

How Can We Police the World When Blacks Are Suffering So Dramatically At Home?

The health clinic that serves the population across the street from Congressman Keith Ellison's office has 91 percent of the people they see are 275 percent below the Federal Poverty Line (Hennepin County/NorthPoint). Rather than deep overseas, some elected officials must be concerned about their back yards. (photo: BET - Fair Use).

The health clinic that serves the population across the street from Congressman Keith Ellison’s office in North Minneapolis: 91 percent of the people they see are 275 percent below the Federal Poverty Line (Hennepin County/NorthPoint). Rather than dip overseas, some elected officials must be concerned about their back yards. (photo: BET – Fair Use).

 Originally posted by  in Atlanta Black 

It’s hard to watch the United States once again step into its role as the world’s policeman, weighing our options as we start talking about an all-out war against ISIS in Iraq, without considering how fundamentally corrupt and hypocritical is this worldview when so many African Americans and other Americans are suffering from crooked economic and criminal justice systems.

Most everywhere you turn, people of color are dramatically and disproportionately harmed by some of America’s most longstanding institutions. Whether we’re taking about the American education system, the criminal justice system, the financial system or the employment system, in each of these institutions the prospects and success of African Americans has been severely hampered by American policies and practices designed to work against the Black community.

A reallocation of America’s priorities would substantially alleviate the suffering of African Americans and in the process make America a more secure, stable and morally defensible world force. If we were taking care of American citizens at home, perhaps we’d have more success when we traipse around the world trying to force these nations to follow our wishes—nations that plainly see American hypocrisy in full effect.

In fact, a story in the Washington Post that ran during the angry protests in Ferguson quoted various members of ISIS and other jihadists movements as saying they are using Ferguson as a recruitment tool to attract African Americans and to further propaganda against the U.S.

“In Islam there is no racism, and we think black people will wake up and follow the example of Malcolm X and others who understood that this way is the only way to justice,” Abu Mansour, who lives in Germany and is also a follower of the Islamic State, told the Post.

Though it’s probably foolhardy to use words like “logic” and “common sense” these days when talking about American foreign or domestic policy, a look at the numbers makes it even clearer why real leadership by U.S. policymakers, including President Obama, is in such short supply. The U.S. spent $737 billion on military defense in 2012. Mind you, this is at a time when our list of foreign enemies is much shorter than at any time in decades—the Islamic State notwithstanding.

While we lavish funds on the military, we have school systems right here in America—see Philadelphia—where funding has become so dire that children are being denied school basics like art, music and sports programs. As can be expected, these tragically underfunded districts tend to predominate in overwhelmingly African-American communities.

Just $11 billion could pay the salaries of more than 200,000 teachers annually, which would wipe away the chronic woes of districts like Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

And how about our crumbling infrastructure, which we seem unable to muster the political will to repair? The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that it would take $3.6 trillion to make our infrastructure safe by 2020—and in the process create an untold number of jobs that would go far toward lifting many African-American families into the middle class. But in order to move forward with such projects, we would need a political class in Washington that had the ability to put the country’s needs ahead of its own. We are so far from that right now, we might as be governed by a band of circus monkeys.

So instead of real efforts to fix a country that looks increasingly broken, and repair communities that are exploding from the frustrations of being a perpetual underclass, we get tableaus like Sen. John McCain, Republican from Arizona, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California, going on the Sunday morning talk shows this past weekend and basically calling President Obama a punk because he seems cautious about spending trillions more American dollars in going after ISIS—a conflict that most serious scholars of the Middle East say we have no chance of winning and that likely will just make things over there infinitely worse.

McCain said ISIS represented “maybe one of the biggest (threats) we’ve ever faced”—now apparently putting the jihadists on the level of Nazi Germany and Cold War Russia. I beg to differ, Senator. I think a bigger threat is having a huge proportion of the country denied equal and fair participation in the American economic system.

About Nick Chiles

Nick Chiles is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. He has written or co-written 12 books and won over a dozen major journalism awards during a journalism career that brought him to the Dallas Morning News, the Star-Ledger of New Jersey and New York Newsday, in addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief of Odyssey Couleur travel magazine.

Education Can’t Minimize Relationships

David O’Fallon

David O’Fallon

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.

Person-to-Person Problem
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.

Key Elements

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.

21 Reasons Why White People Should Care About What Happens In Ferguson

Don't shoot, shoot!

Don’t shoot, shoot!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Read the full story here. 

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