Kersten alleges the new plan shifts the district leaders’ educational philosophy from “academic excellence for all” to ensuring “that students think correctly on social and political issues.” She argues that the new racial justice-geared agenda creates a hostile environment for students with “nonconforming views,” and does nothing to improve test scores or foster high academic performance in the district.
Mason challenged these ideas in her op-ed, ” Counterpoint: Edina schools: why it’s crucial to unlearn racism.” She discusses the way white privilege has shaped our country’s education system since its conception, the learning limitations placed on students of all races, and the importance of maintaining a dialogue about race in our schools. “[Students] know that to change the future, we have to reckon with the past,” Mason writes. “To unlearn racism, we have to be willing to face what it is, what it has created and how we are all implicated in it.”
Faculty and staff in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction kicked off the school year with their annual retreat, but the topics of the day were not the usual plans and announcements. Instead, the department sat down to discuss the departmental climate as it relates to race, bias, and diversity.
The conversations were facilitated by Samuel D. Museus, Director of the National Institute for Transformation and Equity at Indiana University, Bloomington and Kimberly Truong, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.
“We hope that this will be a transformative experience and lead to an even stronger and more cohesive community within the department,” Museus wrote.
After the retreat, the staff and faculty are prepared to continue working on bringing topics of race and bias to the forefront and plan to address areas in the curriculum where equity can be more deeply interwoven into the instruction. “As as an outcome of the retreat, the Second Language Education program has begun process for systematic review of curriculum so that the goals of social equity, multilingualism and racial justice are highlighted throughout coursework and program planning,” notes Professor Kendall King.
Many in the department expressed optimism for the coming year after the constructive dialogues.Teaching Specialist Linda Buturian noted that “when we share our stories, when we feel heard, it makes things lighter.”
Vanessa Goodthunder, and M.Ed. candidate in Social Studies Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, was profiled in the University of Minnesota’s Legacy magazine for her commitment to her Native American community on the Lower Sioux Indian reservation in southwestern Minnesota.
Goodthunder was inspired to earn her initial teaching license in social studies education because she noticed that even though many of the students in her school were Native American, none of the teachers were. She ultimately hopes to teach the Dakota language, which she has been studying on campus, and high school social studies in the Twin Cities or on the Lower Sioux reservation.
“Education really helped me thrive,” says Goodthunder. She hopes to inspire the next generation of American Indian students to speak their native language in order to preserve their heritage while reaching their potential as students. Read the full story in Legacy magazine.
Fadumo Mohamed, a senior in the Elementary Education Foundations program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction received the CEHD Student Multicultural Recognition Award this year. The award is given to a candidate who has made outstanding multicultural efforts to the CEHD community in community outreach as part of their extracurricular or professional work.
Mohamed was nominated by her McNair Scholars program advisor, Lori Helman, on the strength of her many outreach activities. She worked as a literacy mentor in Pratt Community School as part of the America Reads program where she became interested in creating an effective mentoring program for Somali-American youth in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood.
The existing government programs designed to support positive extracurricular activities were transforming into programs to monitor youth for potential future terrorist threats. This was creating a divisive and mistrustful atmosphere in the community, so Mohamed urged the community school to not take the government funding for these programs that offered tutoring and instead to let her provide tutors with the support of the Young Muslims Collaborative (YMC).
In support of that effort she trained almost 40 mentors over two years that were paired with unmotivated or disconnected students. By training mentors who have had similar life experiences, the students are given emotional and strategic support for setting life goals. This is in contrast to programs that attempt to see these youth as potential deviants.
“Fadumo shares the importance of knowing who you are- the values of dual identity, dual language, and works to develop a curriculum that highlights this,” says Helman. “It has been my great honor to work alongside her and learn from her as she gives her full effort toward ensuring equity and positive identity formation for Somali Americans.”
Joubert’s dissertation looks at the effects of economic migration on black Americans and what role educational opportunity played in altering the routes of the descendants of the Great Migration. Joubert’s family was part of the Great Migration that settled in Southeastern Michigan in a small cluster of rural and semi-rural townships and small cities forged by industrialization and transformed by black migrants in search of economic opportunities and safety from the Jim Crow South. Years later, this area experienced a wave of intrastate migration due to deindustrialization and disinvestment in cities such as Detroit.
“As a descendant of the Great Migration and a child of parents who left Detroit, I noticed a number of challenges facing these black residents: increasing concerns over contaminated land and water, a loss of economic opportunity in semi-rural or rural areas and most important to my study, public school closures and mergers and school of choice which has forced families to choose between traveling long distances to get their children to school or to uproot their families completely,” Joubert said, which helped him focus his research of understanding the effects of requiring students, particularly children of color, to involuntary and voluntary cross racial, economic, political, and regional borders.