BROOKLYN CENTER, MN, September 17, 2011—ISAIAH held a 300-person public meeting focused on the leadership needed to address both the racial equity gap in educational achievement and to create racially equitable schools. Joining ISAIAH was Minnesota Commissioner of Education Dr. Brenda Cassellius and superintendents or their representatives from 11 Minnesota urban, suburban, and Greater Minnesota school districts.
The yawning gap in educational outcomes in Minnesota between white children and children of color is one of the most alarming challenges of our time. One in three Minnesotans under the age of 18 is a person of color. With only about 40% of African-American and Latino children graduating from high school, our state is headed into a bleak future.
“The implications of inequities on our school systems, our neighborhoods, and every slice of life that we encounter are just way too important to continue to ignore,” Tony Hudson, an ISAIAH education equity leader, declared from the stage. “For the last four months, as leaders in ISAIAH, we’ve conducted over 150 research visits to build a common bond and relationship with you to lead for racial equity. When we stand together there is no force that should make us back down from doing what’s right for children.”
Saturday’s public meeting, held at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, included a panel discussion on the leadership required to reduce the racial equity gap especially during this time of a State revenue crisis. Panelists included MN Commissioner of Education Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Brooklyn Center School District Superintendent Keith Lester, St. Cloud School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Julia Espe, and Talahi Promise Neighborhood Parent Advisory Group member Theresa Jennings.
Superintendents from Minneapolis, St. Paul, St. Cloud, Eden Prairie, Brooklyn Center, Minnetonka, Anoka/Hennepin, Roseville, Osseo, St. Louis Park, and Robbinsdale agreed to increase their leadership on creating equitable schools and reducing the racial equity gap. Many people in the audience also agreed to work together and assist in leading the State in closing the gap.
“This was a very meaningful and powerful meeting,” said Doran Schrantz, executive director of ISAIAH. “Today, we brought together education leaders and people from the faith community who committed to each other to lead on creating racially equitable schools. It is only through this type of public commitment to change the way things currently are that a true breakthrough in closing the racial equity gap will occur.”