Email to DFL Delegates 2020

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District 6 Virtual City Convention Delegates ~ 
 
My name is Rebecca Gagnon, and I’m running for Mpls School Board in District 6. I am asking for your vote for the DFL endorsement. Many of you I know from my time as your At-Large School Board Director, 2011-2018. You can find out more about me and my work on social media @RebeccaforMn and visiting my website  https://rebeccaformn.com/. It never ceases to amaze me how different every campaign is, and this year is no exception. The impact of COVID-19 on how we go about daily life has been tremendous. I believe I’m not alone in saying it has taken me time to get used to this new rhythm of life.
 
*I ASK FOR YOUR VOTE FOR THE DFL ENDORSEMENT BECAUSE…
 
We are in a new normal, and that includes how we educate our students. The devastation of this pandemic has magnified inequities and opportunity gaps. The majority of our students lack adequate access to technology, broadband, a quiet space to work at home, meals, and school supplies. It may be difficult if not impossible to socially distance at home. Parents may be out of work or part of the essential work force which puts them at higher risk for contracting COVID-19. These are all tremendous stressors on our students and families. Our MPS leadership should be working urgently on plans to address our students’ needs long term given the unknowns of this pandemic crisis. Without a plan to connect with and support our students for the duration, we will most certainly emerge from COVID-19 with an even greater educational crisis!
 
*I ASK FOR YOUR VOTE FOR THE DFL ENDORSEMENT BECAUSE…
 
This is not the focus of our current District Leaders. Our current Board and Superintendent want to push through their Comprehensive District Design (CDD) (https://rebeccaformn.com/blog-posts-campaign-2020/comprehensive-district-design-2020/), a plan only presented to the public recently. The feedback I’ve heard from communities across Minneapolis is overwhelmingly against moving forward with the CDD in its current form. Northside wants more robust Career Tech Ed high school pathways, a K-8 school and enhanced school programming in their community, not requiring Northside students to bus outside their neighborhoods. This plan does not do that. Families across Minneapolis also want choices within their communities, like magnet programming and k-8 schools. This plan does not do that. The number one reason families leave MPS is safety, whether it’s on the bus, walking to school, or at school. This plan does not address that.Losing students every year and having undersubscribed schools is NOT financially sustainable. This plan does not address that. 
 
*I ASK FOR YOUR VOTE FOR THE DFL ENDORSEMENT BECAUSE…
 
Stability, predictability and financial sustainability should be the cornerstone of our school district’s comprehensive design plan. Over 30% of our students and families experience some mobility every school year, almost 10% move more than three times in a school year. Schools are a place to not only educate our children, but for people to gather, meet, engage in extracurricular activities, and, in times of need, a safe welcoming space to provide assistance and supports. Without stable homes to create stable communities, many families rely on stable schools as one of the bedrocks of their community. Especially during a pandemic crisis. Any District overhaul must be based upon sound financial planning that shows fiscal sustainability, thus school stability and predictability for our families. The CDD does NOT consider the economic impact of losing enrollment due to the disruption, it does NOT include a plan to retain and bring students back, and it relies on increasing levy dollars which puts a tremendous burden on taxpayers.
 
*I ASK FOR YOUR VOTE FOR THE DFL ENDORSEMENT BECAUSE…
 
I believe there are things we can do and changes we should consider to reinvest in undersubscribed schools and strengthen programming and access to educational opportunities. But this is not a one size fits all solution, and I believe strongly in maintaining what works, as long as it’s not at the expense of other school communities. District 6 has some of the least funded and overcrowded schools in MPS. They also have some of the highest rates of student enrollment, generating much needed revenue to subsidize important programming like Special Education, English Learner, and enhanced academic supports in other schools.
 
*I ASK FOR YOUR VOTE FOR THE DFL ENDORSEMENT BECAUSE…
 
A thriving and vibrant Minneapolis requires excellent and stable public schools that meet the diverse needs of our unique students. I focused my school board work on building a strong stable foundation. We achieved a structurally balanced budget in FY14 and FY15, and strategically spent reserves to address overcrowding by expanding schools. Because state funding has not kept up with increasing District costs, maintaining fiscal stability is difficult but necessary. We once again balanced our budget in FY19, reducing administration and redirecting money to schools. Moving forward with building a comprehensive district DESIGNED FOR ALL STUDENTS is our next step ~ https://rebeccaformn.com/blog-posts-campaign-2020/moving-forward-comprehensive-district-designed-for-all-students/
 
*I ASK FOR YOUR VOTE FOR THE DFL ENDORSEMENT BECAUSE…
 
As a Board Director I remember how time consuming it was asking critical, informed and relevant questions and following up on answers and data requests. Time consuming but necessary to ensure I could fulfill my commitment to engaging stakeholders in the work. Achieving transparency and accountability for District leadership requires collaboration and advocacy from the ground up. I have a network of community members across Minneapolis that have helped me in my process to engage and lead. As a leader, you must be available, present and prepared to have conversations throughout our diverse communities. Whether I am invited or I reach out, it is incumbent upon me to know that I have created opportunities for people to learn, give feedback, have their questions heard and answered, and see their perspectives reflected in our decisions.
 
*I ASK FOR YOUR VOTE FOR THE DFL ENDORSEMENT BECAUSE…
 
I am running for election in District 6, and asking for YOUR support for the DFL endorsement, to ensure our community is better informed and thoughtfully and authentically engaged in a timely manner. As your District 6 School Board Director, I will work to make your voices heard and reflected in District decisions. I will lead with community. I will govern informed and knowledgeable, ready to ask the tough questions and engage in difficult conversations. We aren’t always going to agree, but you should always know where and why I stand on an issue. And my decision-making will always be about the collective input and impact. Only together can we improve student outcomes and achieve equitable access to high quality well rounded educational opportunities within every community. 
 
Thank you for agreeing to serve as a delegate to the city convention. Voting online begins April 25th and goes through May 4th. You will receive your ballot via email (the one provided at caucuses or that the Mpls DFL has on file for you) on April 25th. Here is the link to the information about the online voting/conventions if you want to know more ~  https://www.dfl.org/covid19/localconventions/I would love to serve the students and families of Minneapolis on the Board of Education. I ask for your support and your vote for the DFL endorsement for the District 6 School Board seat.

EDIA and CDD

Should MPS District Leaders, the Board and Superintendent, perform an EDIA, or Equity and Diversity Impact Assessment, on their newly proposed Comprehensive District Design (CDD)?

First let’s understand the what, why, and how of the EDIA.

What is EDIA?

The District’s website defines the EDIA as the following:

The EDIA is a reflective tool and guided process to evaluate policies, practices, and procedures that impact students. MPS utilizes various methods such as policy analysis, evaluation, and research to support the process. Unless specified, this process generally takes about a year to complete. The graphic below lists the steps involved during the process.”

The District goes on to discuss the intent, or why, of their EDIA process:

• “Identify which MPS students are disproportionately affected by bias or discrimination in policies and practices;

• Assess the impacts and unintended consequences of these policies and practices;

• Engage stakeholders in developing plans to address the inequities; and

• Build capacity to monitor implementation and progress for continuous improvement.”

EDIA Process ~ the how if the EDIA.

The process of the District EDIA is as follows (from the MPS website):

EDIA PROCESS STEPS

STEP 1 Determine an EDIA Need: The Board of Education directs or determines the need for an EDIA to take place.

STEP 2 Complete Initial Impact Assessment: This phase is also known as the Partial EDIA phase. In this step, MPS staff from the Accountability Department are gathering information and data from existing sources as well as engage with stakeholders, specifically, the owners and implementers of the work. Based on the information gathered in this step, senior leadership will determine whether or not the project warrants a Full EDIA.

STEP 3 Full Impact Assessment: In this step, engagement with stakeholders expands beyond the owners and implementers of the policy or work. Rather, the Accountability Department engages with relevant stakeholders who are impacted by the policy to better understand the context and levels of impact that are being experienced by stakeholders. This information is triangulated with the existing data and documents that were gathered to formulate findings to share with the Board of Education and public.

Step 4 Present Findings and Responses: Findings are presented to the Board of Education, and made publicly available. Owners and implementers of the policy or work are given an opportunity to respond to the findings which will also be shared in the presentation to the Board. Generally, the responses are aligned to initial plans that will support addressing the findings.

Step 5 Develop and Implement Action Plan: After the EDIA project is completed, owners of the policy or work will develop and implement an action plan that addresses the findings.

Step 6 Progress Monitor for Continuous Improvement: The Accountability Department is responsible for monitoring process of the action plans developed by the owner of the policy or work.

The EDIA is part of MPS’s Equity Framework

So, WHEN does the Board decide if a decision before them needs the scrutiny of an EDIA process? As a former At-Large Board member, we looked at the level of impact a decision would have. It may have been a large impact in an area of the city, a particular school or program like athletics, or a citywide impact. The EDIA helped us to discover any unintended consequences of our potential decisions, if there would be disparate impacts on particular communities by zip code, race, culture, socioeconomic group, or other identifiable groups like students receiving special education services.

The Board at the very least must discuss if a policy, practice or procedure before them requires an EDIA. I believe the CDD clearly does, and the Board needs to follow their own process to ensure there are no disparate impacts, unintended consequences, inequities are identified and addressed, and a plan of progress management and accountability are embedded in the implementation of the entire CDD process.

*If you want to read the Equity and Diversity policy, go to https://policy.mpls.k12.mn.us/uploads/policy_1304.pdf

*If you want to know more about EDIA history, visit https://accountability.mpls.k12.mn.us/edia_history.