Integration Task Force Meeting: 17 January 2012

NOTE: These are not official minutes, these are very biased and raw notes. Don’t expect fairness, balance, or completeness! I am just trying to be quick at communicating what is happening on the task force. Initials generally refer to task force members, a list of whom can be found at the official task for website. …Eric

Missed presentation by co-chair Scott Thomas, CM missing.

Presentation by member Robert Erickson
… Provide MDE with way to allocate funds as incentives to reward schools
… Reduce funding for Duluth
… Allow MDE to fund technology for student home access
… Enable SPPS to get additional $35 per pupil levy like MPS
… Allow charters (Harvest Prep, Concordia Acad, Groves) to get funding
… Incorporate literacy aid
… Incorporate MN Chamber of Commerce plan for K12 reform
… Require MDE to promote proven practices
… Seek public/private partnerships
… Incorporate RTTT ideas
… Provision for cultural liaisons
… Require MDE incorporate student achievement accountability
… Incorporate Groves Academy Reading Reform


KK, 40 year track record of failure of integration, we should focus on reading and writing. Demography shows that races will meet each other naturally.

ST, that integration is happening naturally is wrong. Not just about race, also about socio-economics. There are not magical numbers, but this does not happen naturally, we need to create entry points to allow this to happen. Families are making choices, and they are choosing integrated or not integrated environments. To abandon integration efforts is to say that segregation is OK.

HB, when we talk about a.g. who are we talking about? Who is at the bottom, black and brown children. This is not race neutral. We are talking about black, brown, and yellow children and those who are economically deprived. Unhelpful to get into a debate about that.

HB loves the picture of RE report cover from Concordia, can we use it as our cover?

BM, worried about the greater segregation she hears about in the metro area. Out state we are seeing more diversity, and those kids need greater support. High school kids need mentors as they graduate, their parents don’t know how to shepherd them through the system. The integration process is a benefit to all our kids, our minority kids and majority kids. There is fear and discomfort as minorities increase, we need support and greater understanding of kids who are different than they are. This does not happen naturally.

AB, concerned about ST framing of integration, which was not defined in the past. Asked RE how much he was considering integration as he drafted his recommendations.

RE, made the assumption that ST would focus more on integration side, so I spent time on the financing and budget focussing on achievement. Does consider a definition of integration as being very important to the report.

MO, integration is neccessary, though not sufficient, to meet the achievement gap. In 1995 we had a few segregated schools, now we have more than 100. We experience very serious economic and residential segregation. We are seeing resegregation. School is not just about books and math and reading, but also about social networks and connections. I had the benefit of bing in a school integrated by court order.

ST asks for clarification from RE, Duluth to $129, MPS and SPPS to be the same (at $144?) would advocate 5% and 15% of $60m be even… Take $60m appropriation, right now state pays 70% of admin, which would no longer be responsibility of MDE. Out state was not delved into, started developing a model that would be more favorable/responsive to out state distribution. Would welcome Tom Melcher to the conversation of how funding tiers might change.

HB, many question about the model, worried about the tinkering with formulas. Would also welcome Tom.

RE, not addressing the fiscal issues would be shirking our duty. Maybe co-chairs could set up a meeting of a subcommittee with Tom. ST agrees that providing a fiscal model would be ideal.

KK would like to return to the demographic questions. Easy to lose site of the rapid rise of non-white population and the shrinking of white population. This is what she means by “natural” change. What is being called resegregation is not a matter of discrimination but more a matter of this shrinking white population. To pin our hopes of closing the achievement gap on the color of the skin of the kid next o you is to be disappointed. HB responds that achievement and integration do work together. Also cites white flight, middle class flight. The power structure is white, it is not diverse. The opportunity gap is real. Teachers are unprepared. KK asks where are the data that show the correlation of academic achievement and integration.

ST cites data on a trailer park population where kids who choose integrated environment achieve at twice the rate.

MO points to resegregation at Osseo, Bloomington, and Richfield. High poverty schools increase dropout rates, a fact that was unrefuted, they have fewer connections to college, they provide fewer opportunities. Mayor of Richfield acknowledges high degree of discrimination in housing.

BM, support has increased GPA and college attendance.

RB, the academic a.g. is overriding for me. Two things can help: God and an education. The gap is a huge problem. We need to take ownership of the situation. Two wrongs won’t make a right. Fix the bigger hole first. Minorities need more attention to closing this gap. Notes cost of incarceration vs cost of education, “math is easy” on what is right to do. They are doing it in Florida. The gap is only 10 or 12%. If they can do it,w e can do it. Parental involvement is one of our biggest hurdles. Racism is there, but it is the forth priority. Separate but equal does not exist. Focus on the gap.

AB senses that in many ways we all agree about the basics. Lots of evidence that the a.g. has not been improving. What are schools doing that places them in the position to have so many dropouts? How can we change that?

HB notes that schools have been through an ongoing period of defunding that makes it harder and harder to do their jobs. Also consider what the schools of education are doing. But some of what is being done in Florida, we don’t want to do here.

MO points out that the best predictor of test scores is the poverty rate of the schools. A 0.9 correlation. Best thing you can do for kids is pick their parents. Next best is pick their peer group. They drop out because everyone drops out. We have fifty years of data in the USA, mixed income schools have twice the graduation rate as poor schools. Integration aid is not being used well, but we have an inside game and outside game.

KK asks what causes the a.g. Gap is largely caused by family social dynamics. Goes to out of wedlock birth rates, 81% black, 61% Latino, 18% white. By far the most important factor in a child’s academic success is that child’s family soci-economic position. High expectations, homework, rigorous coursework, parental involvement, safety, lead to learning.

ST highlights that we should expect those elements from all the money that goes to schools already. We can’t close the a.g. on $110m. What should these dollars be repurposed for.

HB adds one more thing to the list, a master teacher in front of the child. [Nobody notes the 35% more contact time given to kids at Harvest Prep.] Asks about the technology element of RE’s proposal.

HB, AB, RE, RB, and others discuss technology options for districts. [Missing the fact that technology at home without a network is not very helpful.]

RE does not buy HB point about lack of funding. Parents we serve want to see schools be run as better businesses.

HB notes that it is not fair to judge integration programs in the light of the a.g. after RE again brings up the lack of progress during the life of integration programs.

MO for every Mamoud there are 50 schools that are not beating the odds. He may be a great man, but Harvest Prep is not a model. Harvest Prep can fire it’s teachers, make requirements for its parents. Dozens of schools fail on that model, not many work.

ST looking at process. Where is there overlap? What do we agree on?
…parental involvement
…teacher quality
…(access to technology, maybe not)
…pursuing what works
…pursing a fiscal model, and a meeting with Melcher (acceptable uses and sustainability of the revenue)

WG, I don’t know what integration should be, I helped found WMEP, but the more I think and write on this, the less I know. And I can agree with almost everything that was said today. Hoping that our proposal, if it does not get rid of integration as a construct, looks into whether the work we are doing will lead to a better citizenry.

KK likes the way this is going and the development of shared areas of importance. Likes RE proposal identification of cultural liaisons as important. What happens when we start to tell kids you are different from one another attempting to be helpful, but page 123 of [Glen Singleton]… Different cultures. Cites as stereotypes.

WG responds. Kids are aware of things going in they are not privy to and assign that to a certain race. Address it not by ignoring it, but by engaging it. Having access to each other on a daily basis is an important part of that demystification.

HB notes that books like Glen’s provide an opportunity for reflection and discussion. There are kids locked out of opportunities and without any chance to reflect. Opportunities in integrated schools make learning possible. Black communities in poverty are the canaries in the coal mine. Locked in poverty. Those kids, if all they see is the poverty around them, it’s is not fair to them. Help them understand they can move beyond their circumstance. Battering in the home, bullying in the school, one skit presented by kids this week. Challenges of schools today is not like those of the past. This committee has to help these kids operate in this complex world.

PS says that what is an acceptable use of the money can help define the program. The discussion of Glen’s book relates to acceptable use. One future topic for the task force is discussing acceptable uses. How can we make decisions? [Is a magnet school an acceptable use? Within what bounds?]

RE asks if a group or subcommittee could meet with Tom Melcher to ask how the integrations funds are being used now.

MO proposes two questions: do we want to use these funds in integrated settings? If so, on what? These are fundamental questions.

Motion for three person subcommittee to meet with Melcher and the MDE integration finance person and come to grips with current integration spending. Passed.

HB moves that the task force adopt the Concordia picture and the title “One Minnesota, Integration, Achievement, and Equity for the 21st Century.” KK objects before even waiting for a second.

[We should send them pictures of integration at Harambee and Crosswinds! Why allow a private school to be the image on the cover?]

END OF NOTES, more about the task force on our Integration Revenue Replacement Advisory Task Force page.