Parents are engaged. K-12 campaigns attest to that.

We just wrapped up another year—one of growth (partnerships, lessons learned, work implemented) and progress toward more schools that work.  

When we met Kadija from Cristo Rey (pictured above and featured in a video at our annual meeting), she spoke about how these schools “give us a chance in life.”

I wanted to share two reflections on the year (with initiatives summarized below):

  1. We’re committed to supporting families as they design and lead campaigns (work that builds off of their advocacy trainings). Their tenacity and reason is noteworthy. I believe that we’ve helped offer them a platform to organize and demand greater accountability and more great schools.
  2. Through concerted effort, we’ve more deeply aligned our work around school improvement and growth with Great MN Schools. Such as developing schools’ technical and planning expertise with talent management, and co-designing investments in parents as partners.

Updates on initiatives: 

Teacher pathways & licensure

Last week, PELSB approved TNTP’s application to be an alternative teacher preparation provider! TNTP is credited with developing diverse candidates (50% identify as people of color) into effective teachers. For our city’s kids—and schools—this milestone is a big feat, and TNTP intends to launch in fall 2020. 

And in spite of the House attempting to remove pathways to permanent licensure this past session (disproportionately affecting teachers of color), EdAllies, along with educators and families, ensured the imprudent measure didn’t make it to Gov. Walz’s desk.  

Family engagement & talent school cohorts
We launched our first Academic Community Partnership with 5 schools to improve how they invest in parents as partners. This work utilizes the Flamboyan Framework to identify priorities and high-impact strategies, including how parents are invited in to give feedback on school improvement.

We also welcomed school leaders to our Talent-Ready Cohort—with EdFuel and TNTP—to strengthen effective school-based talent management in hiring, developing and retaining diverse, effective teachers.

Parent-led campaigns (12 are in play!)

Advocates are campaigning for priority enrollment so students from historically underserved neighborhoods can access high-performing district schools—paired with free transportation and prioritized staffing for teachers of color.  

In another example, KWST seeks to end the overrepresentation of kids of color labeled “EBD” for emotional behavioral (it’s not a medical diagnosis, nor are students assessed by medical professionals). It’s proposing multiple solutions on how the Minneapolis district can immediately remedy “assessing” for EBD.

And you may have noticed critical areas missing in the Minneapolis district’s draft comprehensive plan, such as strategies to support and improve instruction and community involvement. Following hundreds of families protesting, district leadership delayed their vote until December.

Fair access to information & resources

Parents favor ratings that illuminate students’ learning progress. That’s why they showed up last legislative session in support of multi-measure school ratings that include proficiency and growth data, graduation rates, teacher retention, and attendance and discipline data. The Legislature failed to deliver; for now, Minneapolis School Finder is contributing to families leaving struggling schools and we released ‘A guide to schools that work‘ to support them demanding more great schools.

Stemming from its call for transparency on K-12 funding, E4E—and Education Policy Chair Erickson—helped secure the Office of the Legislative Auditor to study the extent underserved students access the very funding that they generate. (E4E also seeks inclusion of school-level revenue and expenditures in the Minnesota Department of Education’s forthcoming financial dashboard and, at the Minneapolis district, financial incentives for highly effective educators to teach at hard-to-staff schools.)

And with EdAllies, OAK and the Minnesota Independent School Forum, we emended Opportunity Scholarship legislation for students most underserved. Some 5,000 emails went into state leaders, but they failed to include it in the final budget. 

Lastly, our extensive poll to understand, in the minds of fellow constituents, what’s working in K-12 and the most pressing problems revealed that people have resolved to complacency and, on a path forward, are bewildered. 

This year, we’ll bring our solutions to broader audiences. I hope our work—and the work of parents and great schools—inspires not just you, but them, too. We aspire to unite more people around families with effect and more schools that work.

Thanks for your partnership, and we welcome your feedback.

Al Fan
Executive Director

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