Earlier this month, a report put out by The Center for Popular Democracy and the Integrity in Education project found that since charter schools first appeared in the early 1990s, they have been responsible for costing taxpayers $100 million in fraud, abuse, and waste.
– Fredrick Douglass, quoted at the Whose Diversity? rally on the steps of Morrill Hall, Thursday, May 15.
This week, we’re highlighting the recent and exciting organizing work of Whose Diversity?, a collective of undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Minnesota. The group sees itself extending the struggles to challenge and transform the culture of exclusion and enclosure of Black, queer, Chicano, Indigenous, working class, and other minoritized spaces, knowledges, and people at the historically white institution. Even after threats by the University administration to sanction and even expel some of the organizers, the campaign continues to gain momentum.
Whose Diversity? say they’re taking their cues from such critical movements as the 1969 Morrill Hall takeover that led to the creation of African American and Chicano Studies and the 2005 General College Truth Movement, which sought to save the singular space that provided support for working class folks, older people, single mothers, and people of color to learn and get degrees at the U of M. More recently, Whose Diversity? has been influenced and continues the work of Whose University? during the 2010/2011 school year, which occupied Coffman Memorial Union with more than 700 college and high school students to engage in critical dialogue around issues of access and representation at the institution.
At Classroom Struggle, we think it’s important to highlight this work, and situate it within a broader landscape of student organizing for substantive diversity in Twin Cities schools and universities. Struggles like the 2013 South High School walkout protesting attacks on the All Nations program and the more recent student organizing at Central High School in St. Paul protesting the criminalization of Black and Brown youth in schools, among others, illustrate how critical and necessary this work and the leadership of students is, at all levels of education.
Read below to find out more about the Whose Diversity? campaign. Like their Facebook page to receive regular updates about their work and list of demands.
Here at Classroom Struggle, we take a critical view of the charter school approach to improving the quality of K-12 education. While the larger arguments about what kind of education system we want and why our current one is flawed are important, it’s crucial first to have a grasp of the numbers.
In what will be an ongoing effort on this blog, we’re going to collect important statistics on charter schools in the Twin Cities and in Minnesota because much of this information is scattered and difficult to find. We believe that the numbers lend themselves to deep critiques—we’ll get to these in future posts—of the charter school movement, but for now take a look at the data for yourself:
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.