Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

MinnPost's education reporting is made possible by a grant from the Bush Foundation.

Minneapolis schools lauded for equity impact assessments

A video from Race Forward describes the process of getting Minneapolis Public Schools to use Racial Equity Impact Assessments.

Today Your Humble Blogger confesses to being perpetually behind.

To wit: Last fall, the Minneapolis School Board took the landmark step of voting to require an equity impact assessment be performed on every program and policy created in the district. This is huge.

Think of it as the race- and poverty-focused equivalent of an environmental impact statement. You know, like the studies that have been done on the proposed PolyMet copper and nickel mine in northern Minnesota.

The Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) assessments seek to ensure that decisions are made by diverse groups of stakeholders and that the initiatives contemplated support the district’s focus on equity. It’s a simple process that, taken seriously, could have a profound impact.

So far, staff seems to be struggling with the concept that the board means business in this department, and the board seems willing to cheerfully and sweetly remind them of its importance. And they’re not accepting any of these “We’ll clean the groundwater for 500 years, honest” promises, either.

But on to the point of this post: The policy and its roots have gotten some well-deserved national attention from the nonprofit Race Forward, which has offices in Oakland, Chicago and New York City. The group is showcasing the effort as a success story and is offering other communities the tools to replicate it.

To that end, Race Forward, which publishes the excellent Colorlines, has produced a 12-minute video that features Minneapolitans talking about the evolution of the equity impact assessments. If you are at all interested in equity in education or the power of community organizing, it’s worth a watch.

The nutshell version: In the run-up to its 2008 referendum, MPS backers asked various minority communities to vote yes on the levy. Unconvinced the district was committed to their interests, leaders of the groups turned to the Organizing Apprenticeship Project, which formed a coalition that assessed the impact passage of the levy would have on people of color.

The group came out of the process convinced the referendum was badly needed if the district was to honor its commitments, and it was communities of color that delivered the vote.

The following spring, the group turned the process — five simple questions — into a pocket guide to budgeting equity that could be used by cities, counties or any other policymaking entity.

Later that year MPS asked the group to assess the potential impact of a high-profile move to change school attendance boundaries. This time, the organizers said no, the district needs to learn to do this. Et voila.

And so I deliver you, Dear Reader, into Race Forward’s capable hands.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 04/23/2014 - 09:07 am.

    Please stop

    Please, consider stopping referring to yourself as a Humble blogger. You have access to 1000’s of readers each day, hundreds of educelebrities, and highly attended forums that most of us voiceless teachers could only dream of.

    I, along with many of my colleagues, am a good teacher of some of our most wonderful but vulnerable students. I am good at what I do, and have been recognized for it.

    I just want you to know that you are part of the movement that has made it toxic for career teachers of vulnerable, underprivileged kids. You, oh so humbly, are part of a movement that discourages career teaching and makes it only palatable for the drive by education mercenary or the messiah complex missionary.

    You laud and spotlight people who call us cockroaches, reveling in how they “speak truth to power” and “keep it real”. They have national platforms backed by billions, and we are not even invited to the table. Yet your educelebrities are the courageous ones speaking truth to our supposed power?

    When you claim to be just a “humble blogger” it is just another slap in the face for people who really have no voice in the education reform discussion.

    The one universal theme of nations that are lauded for their education systems is a respect for the teaching profession and career teachers. They seem to understand that supporting good teachers is much, much more effective than demonizing them. So, for those of us without a voice, who really are humbly trudging along trying to make a difference, could you quit with the false modesty, humble bragging aw shucks schtick.
    Thanks so much for your consideration,

Leave a Reply