In December 2018, I cast one of my final votes as your At-Large School Board Director on the MPS Board of Education. We passed the following resolution to direct the Superintendent on the District’s CDD work. I proposed a number of amendments, including number six that addressed financial sustainability, bringing students back and retaining students to mitigate budget shortfalls and rebuild fund balance. Sadly, although this was a Board directive, a new Board began governing January 1, 2019, and the CDD went a different direction.
In October, 2019, the Board passed another Board priority resolution for the CDD (bold text added by me).
SO, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of Special School District No. 1, hereby directs and empowers the Superintendent to bring forth a set of recommendations, collectively known as the Comprehensive District Design, for Board action that incorporates the following:
- Provides a well-rounded, early childhood through graduation, education so every student in every part of the city is equipped with the academic, social/emotional, and technical skills to be successful in college and/or career
- Incorporates articulated thematic and/or specialized programming and predictable staffing to support academic opportunities for students
- Is accessible to all parts of the city
- Is rigorous, relevant, and responsive to student interests and goals
- Includes a plan for a career and technical education (CTE) continuum that includes career exploration, career readiness courses, and career skills and credentials
- Includes a plan for special education so students can access services near their home and that does not perpetuate school segregation or concentrate services
- Includes a plan that allows students learning English to access schools using best practice methods and includes a holistic multilingual programming continuum
- Is achievable and sustainable
- Ensures equitable access to rigorous academic and credit attainment opportunities
- Recognizes that racially and economically integrated schools benefit our students and are an asset to our community. Plans should:
- Remove elements within our control that further segregation, including placement policies and school pathways
- Reduce the number of racially isolated schools
- Strategically place, draw boundary areas for, and enroll magnet schools that create integrated school environments without increasing segregation at other schools–any such magnets should be supported and funded accordingly
- Not exclusively use the transportation of one group of students to achieve integration
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that plans should support existing priorities for student learning within Minneapolis Public Schools, including:
- Continued focus on the four core priority areas (multi-tiered systems of support, equity, literacy, and social emotional learning), that will improve instruction for students of color and Indigenous students
- Culturally responsive curricula including, but not limited to Ethnic Studies and STEAM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Mathematics)
- Implement a racial equity focused school climate plan that will improve student retention, family and staff experiences, and student learning
- Continue to recruit and retain staff of color
- Continue to support the Full-Service Community School model
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the process to develop recommendations and plans must utilize the following guiding principles:
- Be informed by data, research, and strong rationale provided for any significant changes
- Be grounded in student, parent, educator, and community member input—with a prioritization of the voices of students of color, Indigenous students, immigrant students, and their families
- Be critically analyzed through an anti-racist and proactively equity-focused lens
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that as a Board, we commit to:
- Act when needed, even if difficult
- Stand behind adopted actions with budget and other necessary resources
- In accordance with our EDIA policy, address any policies that perpetuate institutional racism
- Regularly revisit our actions to ensure follow through and accountability
AND FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minneapolis Board of Education renews our call for partners and leaders to address the significant external factors impacting our students’ lives by:
- Providing safe, affordable, and stable housing opportunities throughout the city
- Eliminating unintended consequences of state and federal school choice policies
- Fully funding education, especially special education and multilingual services
- Protecting our immigrant students, families, and staff
Fast forward to March, 2020, the MPS Board of Education is expecting a CDD presentation at the COW (Committee of the Whole) and official proposal from the Superintendent at the Board meeting. In April, the Board intends to vote on this proposal. The District is also revisiting the placement policy in order to reinforce the CDD plan. Thus far, community outreach on the plan has not included the proposed actual boundaries, capital plans, transportation changes and associated costs, financial data, spreadsheets showing fiscal stability and sustainability, potential or proposed school closings, or any plan to bring students back to Minneapolis Public schools from out of district.
YOU ARE SPEAKING UP AND AGAINST A PLAN THAT LACKS TRANSPARENCY! Please follow the conversations and organized events on facebook on pages such as Minneapolis School Parents, Integrated Schools, Minneapolis Public School Families and Educators for Excellence, MFT59, and my campaign page RebeccaforMN.
As your District 6 School Board Candidate, I will lead with community, engaged and informed by my constituents. I am listening to you. Overwhelmingly, I hear equity and access to educational opportunities is critical. Overwhelmingly, I hear that choice, whether it is K-8 or magnet schools, is critical. Overwhelmingly, I hear you want to know how this plan creates much needed stability, financial sustainability, and improved academic outcomes and access to equitable opportunities for ALL students. Join me and my candidacy for School Board District 6 and let’s move forward with a Comprehensive District Design that works for students, families, and school communities, a CDD that reflects the realities of choice and includes a plan to no to retain our current students, but bring students back to undersubscribed school communities!