All posts by daniel fox

Dear Minneapolis School Board: Do You Know How Rude You Seem?

The Board of Education will conduct a full search and selection ...

Zora on Silence11.10.15. By Daniel Fox, Guest Writer, Classroom Struggle TC

I am an involved community member in my Minneapolis School, former Minneapolis Public School employee, and like many people went to yesterday’s 11-9-15 Special School Board Meeting to learn about the upcoming candidates for Superintendent.

The meeting started at 5:30pm. The names of the candidates were not made public until 6:40pm. Dear School Board, do you know how rude that seems?

I believe you know we have lives, children, dinner to make, work to get done, sleep to get? If you have a meeting with an important public action to take–do it at the beginning! Don’t talk about which questions you want to ask for an hour and ten minutes first.

In sitting there and talking after there were literally a dozen people who expressed their anger and frustration with the process for this very reason. It’s disrespectful. And if you want to get respect you have to give it.

A few other things worth pointing out about the Superintendent search process.

  1. It isn’t only the School Board meeting that has been rude. I’ve heard from multiple people that the entire process of “community involvement” has been tokenizing, intentionally ineffective, and generally in the come here to “give us input but we already know what we’re doing so we’ll just use your name to legitimize our evil plan” style, which I’m told the District is famous for.
  2. HYA Associates, the company that found the candidates and sorted them from 65 candidates to 6, has an Executive Team that is highly tied to the testing industry and is, according to a local community activist, known for hiring Broad Foundation candidates. The Broad Foundation specializes in training Superintendents to privatize districts from within. Just what we need, right?
  3. The HYA Associates guy also told us that they did very thorough research on the candidates, going through “10 pages of Google”. Sorry–the idea that that passes for thoroughness, and sounds sexy enough to an old white man to be a talking point for his expensive corporate headhunter service is silly enough to be included here.
  4. While the School Board receives significant information about each candidate including their answers to some basic introductory questions, the public does not, only receiving a single page of information about each candidate. I overheard a white School Board member saying that he had to sign a confidentiality agreement to get that information, yet the HYA Associate member shared information publically that is not in our “public one page”. What gives?
  5. Finally, a northside parent said that “the candidates seem weak, probably to make Michael Goar look good. One of them came from a online school for their education training for god’s sake!” This strikes me as a good point. Another parent told me that they can’t trust Michael Goar because he is clearly against public schools and for Charters, as demonstrated by his previous job as Executive Director of Generation Next. He also has an extensive human resources and labor relations backgrounds–codewords for “union buster”.

All in all, this reinforced my sense that this system is not broken, it’s doing exactly what it’s meant to be doing–and that’s not very good for our children or communities (unless we’re white and rich, or think we’re going to be!). No doubt our schools were not built for most of our children to succeed so it is on us to grow an education revolution to transform them, come hell or high water.

School Board, stop being so rude. Students, parents, educators, and community: let’s stop trusting others, be they Superintendents or School Board members, to fix this system for us. It’s time to organize!

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Questioning the Up & Comers: an Interview with Shaun Laden, ESP Presidential Candidate

While we at Classroom Struggle are not endorsing candidates we were interested to know more about the candidates running for Union President of both the ESP and Teacher’s Unions in Minneapolis, and are excited to see more dialog and debate about our unions and their role in education. See our interview with Shaun Laden, Candidate for President of the ESP Local of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, below.

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Continue reading Questioning the Up & Comers: an Interview with Shaun Laden, ESP Presidential Candidate

Workload & Teacher Power: Reflections on an Organizing Victory at my school this year

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Do teachers and other educators have power to change things in our schools? Everyday I talk to teachers who are upset, saddened by negative changes, struggling to ensure all of their students succeed. Many days I ask my co-workers what we can do, or if they can help with something. Sometimes they say yes, but mostly they say they are too busy to do anything. Sometimes I feel like we are too busy drowning to organize a raft to save ourselves.

Continue reading Workload & Teacher Power: Reflections on an Organizing Victory at my school this year