News release: In spite of Minneapolis’ nation-leading disparities, ‘Schools That Work’ showcases schools that do well by all kids

–Schools that work deviate from the norm; they engage all families and ensure equity in access to learning and high expectations–

–Parents articulate vision and expectations for all schools to work for students underserved–

For immediate release
Media contact: Nicholas Banovetz, 651-815-5999/nbanovetz@mncomeback.org

Minneapolis – May 28, 2019 – Minnesota Comeback—a broad coalition of advocates, families, funders and educators—today released ‘Schools That Work,’ a collection of stories elevating the power of a great school, their necessity and the need for others to emulate them. ‘Schools That Work’ showcases the different ways to manifest success in students—through Green Central Park Elementary, Northeast College Prep and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School—and that schools can and should be responsible for all children benefiting from positive adult-student relationships, high expectations and grade-appropriate assignments.

“Our current model of education was created more than 100 years ago to fit the economic and cultural needs of the time,” exclaimed David O’ Fallon, contributing writer and former Minnesota Humanities Center president and CEO. “Our top-down, assembly line approach to education still dominates. There are bright lights of change lit by advocates both outside and working within the current system. Education should help students become fully realized human beings, with all of their unique, individual gifts.”

Blessing Kasongoma shared her experience as an English Language Learner: “As a student in new, unsure, and challenging situations, you need guidance and encouragement from school teachers, counselors, and administrators. I felt like I needed to be pushed, and instead I was discouraged and made to feel incapable.” Dissuaded from enrolling in advanced courses, Kasongoma persisted and earned straight As.

“The diversity of cultural beliefs, experiences, languages and interests in our city present a sweet challenge that we must face with broad and open communication,” continued contributing authors Veronica Rivera Arteaga and Jennifer Davis. “Adults must face this situation with both urgency and patience: Urgency to change a system that isn’t working for all kids, and patience with the students we’re asking to navigate that change.”

In Minneapolis, high-performing schools that enroll kids from low-income backgrounds deliver twice the academic growth and almost four-times the proficiency rates of low-performing schools. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, 59 percent of students graduating from high-performing schools persist through college, while only 8 percent from low-performing schools do. Yet, too many schools fail to prepare children for success:

  • Across the country, American Indian students are 70 perfect more likely to be identified for having disabilities—black students are 40 percent more likely;
  • In the Minneapolis district, only 21 percent of black students are reading at grade level; and
  • Black students account for approximately 35 percent of the student population in the Minneapolis Public Schools, yet, they account for 74 percent of the disciplinary actions and account for 67 percent of those receiving Special Education services.

“We’ve spent time in and partnered with dozens of schools across our city—and taken the time to listen to countless underserved families,” said Nicholas Banovetz, director of partnerships and external relations for MN Comeback. “Across schools that work, they deliver on both rigor and relevance. We invest in giving those who are underserved a stage because we see how stories of what’s doable spread throughout communities; we hope ‘Schools That Work’ prompts more action.”

Featured schools
Green Central Park Elementary, Northeast College Prep and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, demonstrate that all students can learn. Each has distinct academic programming, strong culture and student supports, school leaders who address families concerns, and offer constructive educator-family relationships, high expectations and continuous improvement:

  • Achieving a 100 percent graduation rate, Cristo Rey utilizes a standards-based program, in which every student masters each academic standard before progressing in a course or advancing to the next grade level;
  • One of the more diverse schools in the city, Northeast College Prep has more students increasing their proficiency in math and reading than the Minneapolis district average; and
  • Green Central’s distributed leadership is shared among teachers and students; 63 percent of students hit their growth targets—more than any other school in the city.

Next steps for parents
“Meaningful materials that empower families are grounded in actionable solutions,” said Keary Saffold, founder of KWST. “From my experience partnering with families with unmet needs, I incorporated a call to action in ‘School That Work’ to offer questions that families should be posing to any school, such as ‘What are the instructional reading and math levels in my child’s classroom?’ to ‘Is my child accessing grade-appropriate assignments and strong instruction?’”

In addition to resources such as ‘Schools That Work’ and Minneapolis School Finder, MN Comeback will make available in summer 2019 a school relevance framework for families to use when exploring school options or advocating for improvement at their current school.

About ‘Schools That Work’
‘Schools That Work’ was produced in collaboration with local creative and social change powerhouse Pollen. Photographs, art assets and a teaser video for ‘Schools That Work’ are available for use here. If experiencing any technical difficulties accessing these assets, email Nicholas Banovetz: nbanovetz@mncomeback.org.

MN Comeback is also printing ‘Schools That Work’ Spanish, Somali and Hmong. To secure free copies of ‘Schools That Work,’ please email: info@mncomeback.org. Hard copies may be found at community organizations, coffee shops, nail salons across north and south Minneapolis.

About MN Comeback
We believe black and brown students deserve great schools, too. As a broad coalition transforming education, we have set out to triple the number of students attending high-performing schools by 2022. We focus on strategies shown to help schools succeed: provide funding and support to schools demonstrating success, recruit and retain extraordinary educators, engage and empower families, advocate for supportive public policy, and help schools access quality facilities. Learn more at mncomeback.org.

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