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Betsy Hodges' schools platform

Betsy Hodges' schools platform

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Published by Sarah McKenzie
Mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges' schools platform.
Mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges' schools platform.

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Published by: Sarah McKenzie on Sep 06, 2013
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 Ready, Willing and Able: Putting Children Front and Center in Education
When we put children first, our conversation about preparing all of our children for future success andclosing the gaps in education – between white children and children of color, between haves and have-nots – transforms from an adult-centered, yes-no debate into a constructive conversation about makingMinneapolis a great city for every child in every neighborhood.
As a leader who is independent from directgovernance of Minneapolis schools, Minneapolis’ next mayor is uniquely positioned to focus our educationdiscussion on children – from the moment each child gets up in the morning until the end of the day, from prenatal development to a career. And Betsy is an independent leader who has years of experience on CityCouncil fighting special interests to put children first. She knows that our schools are in need of greater resources. Schools will need better access to technology, more personnel like nurses and counselors, and moreimprovements to school buildings. But Betsy also knows that the conversation about improving educationoutcomes for all Minneapolis’ children goes beyond dollars and cents.Betsy has led on making Minneapolis a great city where every person in every neighborhood is better preparedto succeed. She served for four years on the Youth Coordinating Board where she established the YouthCongress and collaborated with Hennepin County, the City of Minneapolis, the Parks Board, and the SchoolBoard to create a common child-focused legislative agenda. She collaborated with her City Council colleagueson the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative and partnered with Mayor Rybak to make sure Minneapolis’ young people have job opportunities outside of school. Betsy is an unwavering champion for housing, transit, and jobs,leading on funding the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and building a robust transit network throughout theentire city, and partnering with Mayor Rybak to build a city that employers want to invest in. And she has brought people together to find common ground in even the most trying circumstances, breaking throughnumerous polarizing issues to fix our budget, lower taxes and protect our priorities.
But the future of Minneapolis – its soul, its workforce, and its ability to grow – is still in jeopardy. Ourgreat city is not yet great for everyone. Barely half of our young people are graduating high school,leaving Minneapolis without the homegrown pipeline of talent that our economy and employers need.The gaps in jobs and education – between white people and people of color, between haves and have-nots – are keeping us from our brightest future. Those gaps – and the solutions that Betsy will implement toeliminate them – start in school years and early childhood.
Betsy has tremendous respect for the independence of Minneapolis’ school board, and does not wish toimplement mayoral control over the board. Rather, Betsy will play a leadership role in bringing all stakeholderstogether, regardless of the diversity of their viewpoints or what side of the education issues they fall on. Our next mayor must be able to hear all viewpoints and put children first, leaving score-keeping and name-calling behind. Betsy will be the Mayor who makes sure every child in every neighborhood is successful. Allstakeholders must be
able to feel the urgency of the situation, willing to be challenged, andready to take action:
 
I.
 
Able
 
to approach education and our children’s opportunity and achievement gaps withthe
urgency
the issue deserves.
 
The time to act is now. Minneapolis’ future, its ability to be a great 21
st
-century city, depends on the urgencywith which we approach our education crisis today. For years, well-intentioned people have talked about our gaps in achievement and opportunity, education and jobs, without much progress. It is clear that the educationalsystem in Minneapolis is stuck and we need a new path forward. No teacher favors the status quo. Parents,teachers and members of our community are ready for a new way forward. Betsy will work to make sure thattheir urgency and energy is reflected in the work we do to improve education in Minneapolis. Betsy is not beholden to special interests or others who have worked to maintain the status quo. Nor is she willing to allow polarized, adult-centered debates to distract us from focusing on
children
. She has a track record of standingstrong on tough fights and bringing the best interests of the whole community to the table.Betsy has a history of prevailing on issues while others provide lip service and promises. She not only has astrong record as a leader, but also as a collaborator, bringing people together to find common ground on our most challenging issues, such as the library merger, housing ordinances, and pension reform. Betsy is a bridge builder who will bring a fresh approach to help deliver better educational outcomes for all children inMinneapolis. But most importantly, Betsy will draw on her experience breaking through political logjams totransform the education debate by demanding that the needs of families and children are put first, and that the practices we know work for our children are implemented in our schools.Outcomes are currently at unacceptably poor levels:
 
Barely half of all of our students are graduating in four years.
 
Black and Hispanic students are graduating at a rate of 36.8%.
 
American Indian students are graduating at a rate of just 25%.
 
White students are graduating at a rate of 69.8% - well below the 83.9% state average and far belowwhere any of our students should be.
 
Those outcomes go back to the beginning of students’ public school years and earlier; according to someof the most recent statistics, only 44% of Hispanic children, 53% of American Indian children, 69% of  black children, 73% of Asian children, and 79% of white children show up to kindergarten prepared.
Education in Minneapolis needs to be addressed with urgency. To sit at the Mayor Hodges' table, everystakeholder must put our children first and agree that the status quo is unacceptable. To keepMinneapolis moving forward for our children, we must be eliminate the education gaps
and 
improveoutcomes for
all 
of our children.
II.
 
Willing
 
to be
challenged 
with new and different ideas, and to have preexisting ideas andattitudes challenged.
When we start framing every education conversation around achieving the best results for our children,we
will 
achieve better outcomes for every child in every neighborhood.
As Mayor, Betsy will demand of all
 
stakeholders that they approach educational opportunity gaps with a focus on the best interests of Minneapolis’children and convene a conversation based on common ground and solutions.Minneapolis is lucky to have stakeholders who care passionately about education and are willing to fight for  better schools, but if we spend too long engaging in yes-no debates over adult-centered issues, we will run outof time to give all of our children their best opportunity to succeed. We need to reject what doesn’t work infavor of what does. We already know of many practices that will close education gaps and improve outcomesfor all children, and our schools will start benefiting from them as soon as adults start putting children first onevery issue.The truth is, there is no side of the education debate that has a monopoly on good ideas. However, Betsyunderstands that there are a few fundamental solutions that will go a long way toward eliminating the gaps between white children and children of color, and haves and have-nots:A.
 
 More Diverse and Talented Teachers:
 When we put children first, we will transform the adult-centered debate over teacher-staffing issues intoa constructive conversation on how we will place diverse and talented educators in front of the childrenwho need them.
Students do better when they have role models with whom they can identify. In Minneapolis,only 17% of teachers are people of color, while 65% of our students are children of color. A child of color cango all the way through public school without ever having a teacher in whom they can see themselves. Thatneeds to change.
 
However, skin color alone does not determine whether a teacher can meet a child’s needs; wemust work to ensure that all educators possess the cultural competency to serve our city’s diverse student population.
 
Students need more and more talented and diverse educators. But controversy over programs like Teach For America – which is neither the problem with nor the solution for Minneapolis public schools – masks the realissues we are facing.
 
Minneapolis is fortunate to have many passionate, capable, hardworking educators. Thoseeducators – our community-builders and the keepers of our future – know what they need to make their students’ education richer and their classroom better.We need to recognize that current Minneapolis Public Schools students are one of our best sources for futureteaching talent; after all, some of our most culturally competent citizens are the children in our classrooms.Teachers can give back to their profession by working to help their students learn about and get excited about building a career as an educator. High school “Future Educators of Minneapolis” chapters can play a role insteering passionate young students to a career that allows them to give back to their city’s schools.
 
We all know our current undertakings have fallen short. While some stakeholders have recognized the desperatesituation that we are in, our current agreement does not prioritize children and student success. Diverseeducators – and young, exceptionally talented educators of all backgrounds – have been laid off indisproportionate numbers and minority educators have not been recruited effectively in the first place. It is timewe started replacing teachers in a way that puts the best interests of children first and adults second.Of course we want to protect the collective bargaining process that provides crucial protections for workers.The negotiation must be about how we recruit and keep the best teachers, increase teacher diversity, and get

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