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.