Integration gets a new bill at the MN House

The report of last year’s integration revenue replacement advisory task force has new life as HF247 sponsored by task force member Rep. Carlos Mariani. The Session Daily wrote a story describing the “revamped aid plan:”

HF247 takes the group’s advice and creates a new program called Achievement and Integration for Minnesota or AIM, which would combine the goals of racial integration, increased student achievement, and educational equity. The new model resembles the state’s current program in many ways, but task force members say that it would refocus uses of the money in ways that are easily tied to achievement. The new plan also makes changes intended to improve the program’s oversight and more closely track its results.

School districts that receive the aid could spend it on college-readiness programs and efforts to recruit teachers of color, among many other uses. They’d have to set goals for closing the achievement gap and promoting integration, and get state approval for their plans.

School districts would have to spend at least 80 percent of the aid on students, with up to 20 percent allowed for activities, such as teacher training. Districts that fell short of their achievement goals over time would have their aid cut by an unspecified amount.

Crosswinds Intersession at the Capitol

Many intersession students are going to have an exciting day at the Minnesota Capitol this Thursday (2/14) as they spend Valentines Day learning a bit about how state government works. Ms. Siskow launched the field trip as a chance for the Crosswinds World Savvy team to get some recognition for their 2nd place in the World Savvy National Competition for their “Knowledge to Action Plan,” which entailed a plan for using water straws and education program to teacher villagers in third-world countries how to clean water for drinking. They will be recognized at a hearing of the House Education Policy Committee at 10am (feel free to join them in the hearing room in the basement of the State Office Building).

But the trip has become a much bigger event. Other students from her social studies class expressed interest, and now Ms. Siskow is taking a whole group of students not only to the hearing (which will address reforms in integration funding), but also to meet a number of state representatives and state senators, including Rep. JoAnn Ward and Sen. Susan Kent who represent the district where Crosswinds sits.

This will be a wonderful opportunity for our students to see their representatives in action and make their voices heard at the Capitol. It will also be a great orientation for what we expect will be hearings in the coming weeks on the Perpich legislation to take on governance of Crosswinds.

Joint Committee Hearing on Integration

The Minnesota House and Senate education finance committees are holding a very unusual joint session this Thursday (2/7), 8:15am, in Room 200 of the State Office Building (100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN). This join hearing agenda will include an integration revenue program presentation including the 2012 report and recommendations of the Integration Revenue Replacement Advisory Task Force.

The task force got almost no attention from the last session of our legislature, even though the report included bipartisan recommendations for significant reforms. This joint session should provide some very interesting insights into the thinking of current legislators about the direction of integration priorities and funding.

MPR: An Imperfect Revolution, Voices from the Desegregation Era

MPR this afternoon broadcast a really interesting American Radio Works documentary: An Imperfect Revolution, Voices from the Desegregation Era. This is well worth a listen or a read. It provides some valuable insight into things we feel at Crosswinds and Harambee and may give us some legs to stand on with the legislature in arguing that Crosswinds deserves to be saved by Perpich.

When the Supreme Court heard the recent desegregation cases from Louisville and Seattle, more than 500 social scientists filed a friend of the court brief presenting research on the effects of school integration. The brief said kids who go to integrated schools tend to have less racial prejudice, and it said integration has improved school achievement for African American students.

Gary Orfield: There’s nothing magic about sitting next to a white child, but there is a tremendous difference between being in a middle class school and high poverty school.

Desegregation expert Gary Orfield points out that integration doesn’t just mix races, it also mixes social classes, and schools where there are a lot of middle class parents tend to be better schools. More affluent parents won’t put up with poor teachers. More affluent kids encourage their classmates to do well and go on to college. Orfield says schools where most of the kids are black or Latino tend also to be schools where most kids are poor.

Orfield: If you look at these highly concentrated impoverished minority high schools, those are the country’s drop-out factories: a few hundred schools where most of the kids never graduate from high school and almost nobody is prepared for college. These are places that just destroy people’s lives. And to think that we know how to equalize this with just putting some money into them is thinking something that simply is not true.

In other words, as the Supreme Court said 50 years ago, separate can never be equal.

Note, Gary Orfield is the brother of our very own Myron Orfield, who has been waging this battle in Minnesota, most recently as part of the integration task force last year.

Garofalo schedules Integration Task Force Hearing, 4/4 (Nevermind)

UPDATE: This hearing has now been cancelled, Garofalo’s office is now looking for a date the week of 4/16. We’ll keep you posted.

We need families to sign up to testify for integration at a hearing next Wednesday, April 4, at 8am at the Capitol’s (tentatively scheduled for Room 5 of the State Office Building). Your voice is critical at hearings like this, please consider speaking up!

The Integration Task Force reported out over a month ago, Rep. Garofalo allowed one of the dissenters to testify last month, but finally, a hearing has been scheduled for the whole task force report and the legislation that Rep. Mariani has authored.

Families, parents or students, can simply tell their own stories. Testimony will be brief, only two or three minutes, so you don’t have to prepare very much. Just tell a story about how use of integration money, the money that makes EMID possible, makes difference in your child’s learning. Remind the legislature that if this funding goes away, then these opportunities you and your child benefited from will be to others. EMID schools are on a break next Wednesday, so if students are willing to testify, this will make a big impact on legislators.

If you are interested in testifying, please send an email asking to be added to the list of testifiers to Jody Withers and Rebecca Peichel, staffers for the Education Finance committee that Garofalo chairs.

Anyone interested in discussing the hearing and practicing their testimony is also welcome to join us for an impromptu EMID Families meeting on Saturday (3/31) at 1pm at Eric and Mary’s home (1993 Lincoln Avenue, Saint Paul). Please RSVP so we have an idea of how many people to expect.

MinnPost: Integration issue stalls at Capitol

Beth Hawkins writes in MinnPost: “Integration issue stalls at Capitol.” She notes Garofalo’s buck-passing and the Kersten testimony:

According to the Pioneer Press, Kersten got the chance last week to air her views before the state Senate Education Committee. The task force, meanwhile, has been unable to get the same lawmakers who appointed half its members to take up the report.

New in this story is news that Rep. Mariani, who was also a task force member, is drafting a bill:

Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, echoed Thomas’ sentiments. “There should be a hearing,” he said. “The clock is ticking. We have a committee deadline coming up in three weeks.

“This is a pretty significant task,” he continued. “We’re talking about $100 million. We’re talking about racial equity, which is a very important topic, and integration, which has a rich history in this state.”

Mariani is having the panel’s proposal drafted into a bill, which he plans to introduce later this week. He has no guarantee the committee will hear it.

Pioneer Press: Minnesota’s integration program supported by religious leaders

Megan Boldt covers the ISAIAH press conference in the Pioneer Press today: “Minnesota’s integration program supported by religious leaders.” She focuses on the fact that Rep. Pat Garofalo is trying to pass the buck to MDE:

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, chairman of the House Education Finance Committee, said last week that he expects the state Education Department to flesh out a proposal legislators can act on this session.

Legislature’s court. Spokeswoman Charlene Briner said the department fulfilled its statutory obligations, which included naming six members to the task force, convening the first meeting, offering support to the task force and delivering the report to the Legislature.

“I’m not certain exactly what Rep. Garofalo is referring to when he says he’s waiting for more details from the department,” Briner said.

ISAIAH asks the Legislature to hear the integration task force report

ISAIAH, a network of congregations acting as members of this democracy to reclaim a powerful role in determining the future of our communities, our state, and our country, will hold a press conference this morning to call the legislature to hold a hearing regarding the Integration Revenue Replacement Task Force recommendations. They plan to celebrate the bi-partisanship shown in the report, recognize the example it sets for governing from a place of mission and values, and note that integration and achievement should include equity at its core.

Speakers at the event will include task force member Helen Bassett of WMEP and Robbinsdale schools, Kathy Griebel of EMID, Sarah Gleason of St. Joan of Arc, and Pastor Paul Slack of New Creation Church in Minneapolis.

Tuesday, February 28, 11am
Room 181, Minnesota State Office Building

ISAIAH also provided a detailed response to the task force report.

Pioneer Press: Overhaul of Minnesota school integration in limbo

Mila Koumpilova writes in the Pioneer Press today: “Overhaul of Minnesota school integration in limbo.” In the story she notes that the Legislature and the Minnesota Department of Education differ about who should take the next step with the integration task force recommendations.

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, chairman of the House Education Finance Committee, said Friday that he expects the Education Department to flesh out a proposal legislators can act on this session. But the department says the ball is in the Legislature’s court.

Koumpilova also exposes some of the tensions emerging from members of the task force.

[Kersten said,] “If the Legislature does nothing, the integration program goes away, and I think that might be the best outcome.”

Kersten added that her Center for the American Experiment report, a year in the making, is completely independent of her service on the task force. …

Myron Orfield, a fellow task force member, said Kersten’s views set her apart on the task force. “Everyone but her felt there were benefits to integration,” he said.

It is odd that the Legislature has already had Kersten testify about her own views but has failed to hold any sort of hearing about the actual task force recommendations.

“You have something that’s so rare in this day and age – a bipartisan recommendation with more than a supermajority,” said committee co-chairman Scott Thomas, an equity coordinator in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district. “The response has been absolute silence.”

Augsburg College Public Debate: Integration Funding

Augsburg College Symposium on Modeling Constructive Public Debate will focus on Integration Funding and will debate the recommendations the integration task force faced. The two speakers will be Bill Green (who voted for integration funding) and Peter Swanson (who voted against). It will be a really unique chance to hear more about the task force’s insight into this issue.

The debate will take place today Wednesday, February 22 from 4:00pm-5:30pm at Augsburg College in the Foss Center in the Hoversten Chapel.

You can contact Katie Radford if you have any questions or need directions 651-503-4116.