Ask any parent and they’ll tell you they want more for their child. And not just more, but better.
While high-performing schools enrolling kids from underserved neighborhoods have 2x the growth and almost 4x the proficiency rates of low-performing schools, there’s too few of them. 2019 offers an opportunity to further fix policy barriers that keep students from success.
The below priorities are in service of our policy objectives; what’s new this year: Investments in campaigns designed and led by community and parents.We believe many of these will amount to wins for our partner schools and support our goal to triple the number of students underserved attending schools that work.
We’re thankful to our partners at EdAllies, Educators for Excellence, OAK, the MN Independent School Forum, the MN Business Partnership, NAPCS, UPLIFTMN, KWST Behavioral Development Group, STANDUP and LYDC for making this work possible.
#1: Empower school communities so that families, teachers and building leaders have greater control of their resources – and can make critical decisions for their school
- In defense of culturally affirming schools and parent choice, we continue to counter Cruz-Guzman’s deficit narratives about children of color with nuanced conversation about cultural biases and inequitable resources. As this case continues in the judicial system, we’re thrilled that Nekima Levy-Pounds has joined as co-counsel for two charter school interveners.
- For kids in North Minneapolis and Phillips, their very zip code can prevent them from accessing great schools. ‘We Want In,’ a priority enrollment campaign from STANDUP, seeks to change this so students underserved have a fair shot at our city’s top district schools.
#2: Ensure schools are responsible for educating kids – no school should be allowed to fail students year after year
- Bring summative school ratings across the finish line so families have reliable, well-rounded information on how well schools prepare kids for college, jobs and life. These would be comprehensive, including student proficiency and growth, graduation rates, teacher retention, attendance data, and discipline data. From our new city-wide poll, 73% of parents favor holistic school ratings that illuminate yearly learning progress and are published on school websites.
- Many of our partners are fighting systemic practices that disproportionately harm students of color, and we’re proud to support their campaigns. UPLIFTMN is amplifying discipline practices that keep students of color out of their learning environments – and calls for its end. KWST Behavioral Development Group seeks to reduce the over-representation of kids of color mislabeled as needing EBD services, which coincidentally confines them in the lowest-performing schools. And LYDC is fighting for the proper implementation of a core section of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: “That organizations receiving federal funding provide meaningful access and appropriate cultural means to information and services to individuals with Limited English Proficiency.”
- We support the MN Business Partnership’s call for our state Department of Education to create model, standards-aligned curriculum and lesson plans that are free to any teacher; a resource that our peers in Louisiana and Massachusetts have readily available.
#3: Ensure equitable access to resources so changing-the-odds schools are equipped to continue to offer kids a great education
- We were proud to fund E4E’s teacher-led research that calls for transparency on K-12 funding and equity in the allocation of people resources. We support bringing these recommendations to life, particularly for transparency on school-level revenue and expenditures.
- We’ve helped strengthen “Opportunity Scholarship” (via scholarship granting organizations) legislation to target students most underserved and connect them with high-performing schools. We believe it’s time policymakers do more to help students attend great schools.
#4: Expand quality pathways to enter the teaching profession so more diverse, effective teachers are available to schools
- Stemming from prior victories, alternative teacher preparation programs are seeking approval to equip local classrooms with a strong, diverse teaching force. We’ll continue to advocate on behalf of proven programs, like TNTP, ensuring PELSB operates in full compliance with state law.
We’re hopeful as we fight for rigor and relevance for all students – especially Minneapolis’ 30,000 underserved kids. With supportive public policy and strong partnerships, we can ensure the sustainable well-being of our community.
Nicholas Banovetz , Director of Partnerships & External Relations
Rashad Turner, Director of Community Engagement