The shady CSI deal was just the tip of the iceberg


Those of us that formed Black Advocates for Education did so because we were tired of lackluster investments in strategies to improve the pitiful academic outcomes for black males in Minneapolis Public Schools. When we learned that the newly formed Office of Black Male Student Achievement was only allocated a budget of $200,000 we were livid. Given the enormous issues with black education in Minneapolis we thought the amount was absurd.

Then news broke about this crazy contract the district had signed with the Community Standards Initiative for over $375,000. Yes, the MPS signed an agreement with a virtually nonexistent organization instead of fully funding a district-wide strategy for systematically undoing the structures that impact student learning for black children.

Little did we know that was just the icing on a much larger cake. Here we were thinking this gross waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars was a big deal, when the deal was much bigger.

As it turns out, some of the same actors in the CSI public school debacle have been working on a much bigger payday. Community members have brought it to our attention that Senators Bobby Champion and Jeff Hayden have been working with “leaders” connected to the CSI to develop a plan that will draw $26 million in state funding. Let’s call it CSI part II, because once again there is a play by folks with questionable capacity, organizational skills, and histories to seek government money on behalf of people in the community, without input from the community.

That’s the game. It’s been happening at least since the 1970’s. North Minneapolis has it’s chiefs, all male and well-fed, most of whom live outside of the city, and all of whom profit from acting as gatekeepers. Meanwhile, as hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in the name of improving the lives of real people, conditions haven’t changed.

We’re not OK with that. Our children matter and they deserve better. The many people who get up every morning and actually do good work for families that need help deserve better. Of course we want strong investments in our community. And, we want those investments to have a reasonable chance for making a difference.

It won’t happen as long as we allow yesterday’s leaders to continue negotiating deals about us, without us.

Brave community members sent the letter below  to Gov. Dayton today. It asks for a transparent process to bring resources into the black community.

If you agree, feel free to write him too.

4 thoughts on “The shady CSI deal was just the tip of the iceberg

  1. BAE Members and the Community,

    I applaud the creation of a new group called Black Advocates for Education (BAE) who want to not only join the fight against the so-called achievement gap, racism and discrimination in our community. We all know that the Minneapolis Public School, Saint Paul Public Schools and other school districts have failed miserably to educate our children and treat our parents with the respect that they deserve. All community leaders have not failed our children and our families as we have not stood on the sidelines watching a broken education system fail our children for decades. While I applaud the BAE for getting involved with education you are not breaking new ground by going to the school board as this has been going on for decades back to my good friend and brother the late President/CEO of the Minneapolis Urban League Gary Sudduth when he said to the MPS Board of Directors, “Where is the money?” to educate our children. Many nights when your entire group was home in their warm homes many of us were at school board meetings in both cities and the suburbs fight for freedom, justice and equality. I am not criticizing you as I welcome you to the fight, but fight the battle to the best of your ability and not attacking other Black leaders. I have heard many of your talk about your faith and love for Allah (God), but how would your Savior have handled this?

    It is my opinion that the author of this blog and the leadership of the BAE has a responsibility at a minimum to protect our community and yes even our leaders, even if you disagree with Senator Champion and Senator Hayden. Have you ask to meet with Senator Champion and Senator Hayden to share your position on what they are doing with leadership from Minneapolis and Saint Paul? Do you believe everything written by the Star-Tribune or what is said by the MPS? Have you asked to be part of the body working to bring some economic infusion into the inner cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul? Did you invite any of us to join the BAE since you want transparency and openness to the community? I know as the president of the African American Leadership Council (AALC) I have not been contacted by anyone associated with BAE to participate with the group or the AALC.

    For your information the following are the facts:
    1. Neither Al Flowers or Clarence Hightower is part of our working group.
    2. The issue of Mr. Flowers getting $350,000 is an MPS issue and not associated with our efforts. My question to the BAE is what is the of the percentage of the $350,000 to Mr. Flowers to the overall MPS budget? Did Mr. Flowers get $350,00? How much did he get? What percentage of the approximately 80 billion dollars that the State of Minnesota spends is going to our community?
    3. I differ with you about us not having women at the table as close to 50% of those participating are women such as Sister Tasha Byers, Sister Kenya McKnight, Sister Sasha Cotton, Sister Dianne Binns, Sister Danielle Taylor, Sister Ora Hokes, Sister Ayianna Kennerly and others. We have 17 actives members of which 41.1% are women compared to 31.1% of the BAE being women based on the names that I knew were men names. The BAE is 68.1% men compared to our group at 58.9% men.
    4. Many of us at the table are very concerned with what happened with Minneapolis Community Action Programs, but we do not feel we have a right to trample on the pain of others even if they are wrong. For the record instead me glowing about what happened to Brother Bill Davis, I called him offer my support in any little way that I could as I know that is what my late Elder Matthew Little would have wanted me to do and that is what he would have done. The same for my beloved Dr. Josie Johnson as we spoke about Bill Davis and we both reached out to him to offer our support.

    I applaud Rev. Jerry McAfee for reaching out to Gov. Dayton to ask for help in our community for all the social, mental and economic ills in the community. I applaud Gov. Dayton for being a Governor of the people and for agreeing to entertain a discussion on the issues impacting North Minneapolis and Saint Paul. I applaud all those that the came to the table invited and some not invited for the betterment of our community. I applaud all the work done to date that may or may not produce a dime for our community, but we have worked hard together and disagreed, but all felt we had to do something for the poorest of the poor in our community. I applaud Rep. Rena Moran for leading the Saint Paul delegation and all of my colleagues who are part of our team.

    My question to the BAE is did you ask for a meeting with Gov. Dayton, Senator Champion, Senator Hayden and Rep. Moran for a meeting and they all three said no? If not, shouldn’t the first order of business for the BAE be is to get with all the great minds in your organization and put together your package for Governor Dayton and his team?

    I have to say this is VINTAGE WILLIE LYNCH at it’s best as the only different is it isn’t 1712, but 2014 as the last time I checked anyone has the right to contact Governor Dayton or any of our elected officials. Why the “crab barrel theory” again in our community? No one from BAE has reached out to any of the Saint Paul delegation led by Rep. Rena Moran that includes the African American Leadership Council of Saint Paul (AALC), Saint Paul Black Ministerial Alliance, Saint Paul Branch of the NAACP, YWCA of Saint Paul, Ujamaa Place, NidCad and Community Stabilization Project about our efforts to bring economic relief to Saint Paul. Is the BAE saying that we are not credible/effective organizations? I would have said to you as would others involved that we need to make these agencies a part of the economic agenda as we want inclusion, not diversion. Why does the BAE get to define this so-called new standards of community engagement that you are asking for? Why does the BAE need to attack others to offer your solutions to Gov. Dayton or the Minnesota Legislature?
    While I do not want to speak for Minneapolis, I am sure that no one has reached out to Rev. McAfee and others or ask to join the process as we have been open to the community.

    As president of the AALC, I am very disappointed in what the BAE has done as no one will now get any level of funding as a result of what has already transpired and your letter to Gov. Dayton. I pride myself on not having a bad relationship with anyone in the Black community and I want the same to be true with members of the BAE thus I extend an invitation to meet with me and members of the Saint Paul delegation to express your concerns. I am also willing to facilitate a joint meeting with the Minneapolis delegation and our team.

    Tyrone Terrill, President
    African American Leadership Council


    • Thank you for providing a detailed defense of your private planning process to obtain public funds on behalf of a community you haven’t consulted. Please do not preach to us. Make your plan public and allow the community to see the details of what you all hope to get $26 million to do.

      It is time for open, transparent, effective leadership.

      Hard stop.


      • Why is the leadership of the BAE against sitting down to get our facts straight about what has gone on the past few months? I have yet to get a telephone call from anyone willing to meet with me or others from the Saint Paul Delegation. Who is this community that you want us to consult or be transparent with? Is that the BAE? Speaking of transparency, I do not recall getting an invitation from you to join this outstanding body of Black leaders who have been on the ground in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The offer still stand to meet with me and other leaders of the Saint Paul Delegation. The AALC meets the second Thursday of the month from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center and you are welcome to be on the agenda to discuss the BAE and the work of the AALC and our member organizations.



      • Thank you for your comment. We stand by our concerns about the lack of transparency in the way business is done in our community. We are not interested in private discussions or backroom deals. We have requested that your private plan be made public and as of now that has not happened. We want a competitive and transparent process that will benefit the black community by resourcing those who are fairly judged to be capable of making an impact.


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