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It’s musical-chairs time at Minneapolis Public Schools

Summer is traditionally the season of musical chairs in the world of education, yet it is entirely possible that Minneapolis Public Schools has not experienced such a concentrated burst of personnel changes as the last few weeks.

Sara Paul

Departing to become the number two in White Bear Lake is Associate Superintendent Sara Paul. It’s hard not to be happy for Paul, although the void she’s leaving will be a big one. First hired a few short years ago to helm the Office of New Schools, Paul excelled at building relationships inside and outside the district.

Paul was replaced as new schools czar by Tom Franta, who also departs the summer. He leaves to take a position as head of the Washington State Charter Schools Association. Franta wasn’t on the job long enough to be associated with any new schools per se, but was to have played a major role in MPS’ new “portfolio” strategy of reorganizing the district’s lowest performing schools around particular curricular objectives.

Also resigning is Rick Kreyer, the head of human resources who was instrumental in negotiating the districts new, groundbreaking contract with its teachers union. He will assume the same post in St. Louis Park Public Schools.

Kreyer will be replaced by Executive Director of Employee Relations Steve Barret, who will have his work cut out for him on day one. The district ended the school year with a number of open principalships; several seasoned building leaders were promoted to associate superintendent positions.

Michael Walker

There is one promotion that will receive more attention in this space soon: Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson last week announced the promotion of Michael Walker to head the newly created Office of Black Male Student Achievement.

The news put on hold a simmering controversy that had been threatening to erupt over the district’s perceived lack of urgency in filling the job. More on that as soon as Walker is back in his office from a no doubt well-deserved summer vacation.

As a placeholder, here is his bio as summarized in a district news release:

From 1998 to 2006, Walker served as community outreach, program and youth development director at the YMCA of Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis, where he developed programs for social, academic, athletic and employment skills for youth and served as the coordinator of the Black Achievers program, an academic achievement and career development initiative for middle school and high school youth and teens.

“Walker worked as a career and college coordinator for AchieveMpls at Roosevelt High School from 2006 to 2009 before serving Minneapolis Public Schools as Roosevelt’s dean of students from 2009 to 2011 and assistant principal from 2011 to the present.

School desks photo by Flickr user alamosbasement and used under Creative Commons license.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Laura Waterman Wittstock on 07/21/2014 - 12:00 pm.

    Office of Black Male Student Achievement

    What a slap at Black female students. Public education, paid for by the taxes of the community in which the school system is located, should address the needs of all children. When one group is singled out to address special needs, sorting by sex should not come into it. Presuming sisters and brothers come from the same family, how can it be explained that there is a special office for Black males but not Black females? This thinking is insufficient. Go back to the drawing board on this one and give Black girls a better chance.

  2. Submitted by Sears Johnson on 07/21/2014 - 04:15 pm.

    Office of Black Male Achievement

    I am appalled by this position. Taking this man away from directly working with children and now putting him at headquarters will help in what way? What does this say about the educators in any capacity that work with African American boys everyday? Is his role to raise test scores ? Will he be in the homes of children that are not successful?

    Does the common family / tax payer know of all the interventions that are already in place, everyday ? ie, reading groups just for African Americans, after school tutoring, small groups, mentors and so on. The pressure/bullying that the Superintendent puts on Principals, who bring this crazy pressure to the staff to raise African American test scores?

    It appears to me that we could solve this black male achievement situation with a black male superintendent.

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