Projects worth mentioning

Many leaders know how to reduce inequity and improve the lives of students. In this section we point to current projects that extend the work of the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership and race equity in general. If you believe your project warrants attention, and fits our mission, please let us know so we can add your project here.

Minnesota School Leaders #3: Intentional and Personal Leadership Development through the Lens of Race

Minnesota School Leaders: Intentional and Personal Leadership Development through the Lens of Race

by Candace Raskin, Ed. D and Melissa Krull, Ph. D, Minnesota State University at Edina, Center for Engaged Leadership

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear— not absence of fear. Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it. – Mark Twain.”

Research shows that schools succeeding against all odds share certain traits and beliefs. Most notability, the schools are lead by strong principals who hold all students and teachers to the highest standards. These principals hold a profound belief that children of all races and incomes can achieve and meet high academic standards (Carter, 2000, McGee, 2004). We contend that school leaders must also lead with a lens of racial equity and have the skill, will, courage and confidence to lead and display behaviors that align with the belief that all children can and will meet high academic standards.

Our leadership work through the Minnesota State University, Mankato at Edina, Center for Engaged Leadership – Courageous Principal Leadership Institute is designed on the following specific Theory of Action of ~

Our Theory of Action is based on the supposition that building the capacity of school leaders to realize compelling missions ensuring high achievement for all students requires the intentional development of Principals’ confidence and competence. Both are advanced through self-conceptualization of leadership while increasing the knowledge and the skills to implement and monitor best practices. Growth cultivates accomplished and courageous leadership, which in turn, promotes and results in high level of learning for every student.

The following is a visual of our Theory of Action. It is important to note that all aspects of the theory are embedded in the foundation of Racial Equity.

(Raskin & Krull, 2013)

The Institute transfers theory into practice in the development of instructional leadership by anchoring learning around specific learning strands and engaging participants in the current realities impacting Minnesota schools and students today. A significant component of the Institute is using real data and case studies to support the learning of the principals in the Institute. Knowing and truly understanding what is occurring in Minnesota schools is critical in equipping Minnesota principals with the skills that equip them with the will, courage and confidence to lead schools that ensure all children can and will meet high academic standards.

Recently we provided Institute participants with data collected by a principal who shadowed a 7-year-old black student in a Minnesota school for a day. The data collected was low inference – it simply described what occurred for this student. Listen to Institute participants, as they work to understand, learn and gain the skills that support them to lead with Confidence – Courage – Resulting in High Student Success for All.

Minnesota School Leaders #2: Intentional and Personal Leadership Development through the Lens of Race

Minnesota School Leaders: Intentional and Personal Leadership Development through the Lens of Race

This information was initially published as a guest blog here at MMEP. We thank Melissa Krull, Ph. D and Candace Raskin, Ed. D from the
Minnesota State University at Edina, Center for Engaged Leadership for their contributions.

“Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.
-Marianne Williamson

For too long in Minnesota, race has been the predictor for student academic success. The achievement gaps found within Minnesota schools include problems such as misunderstanding race, lowered expectations for students of color, curriculum that does not align with varied racial experiences and leaders unsure or unprepared to lead through a lens of racial equity.

The latest Minnesota Minority Education Partnership Report (MMEP), National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and Minnesota State MCA results, to name just a few, all point to the same thing, a racially predictable achievement gap that has persisted for as far back as anyone report can document.

We are painfully aware of the many efforts and programs dedicated to this urgent matter. We have seen and heard the multitude of strategies, voices and reports written in the past and even present dedicated to remedying one of the most serious educational issues of our time.

While the problem seems overwhelming, we argue a tipping point in reducing the racially predictable achievement gap in Minnesota starts with intentional development of racially conscious school leaders. It is with this intention we hope to eliminate the leadership gap which serves as the precipice to ensuring high success for every child. The leadership work through the institute has documented that when school leaders establish a deeper understanding of their racial identity, leadership beliefs, and moral imperative they will lead with purpose and passion to ensure that all students meet high academic standards. It is when school leaders engage in courageous conversations about race and the impact that race has on all aspects of schooling that the predictable racial achievement gap in schools begins to narrow.

Listen to members of Minnesota State University, Mankato at Edina, Center for Engaged Leadership – Courageous Principal Leadership Institute as they talk about their personal journey. They will discuss how they lead differently because they know themselves more completely. Additionally, they speak to the relationship between knowing their own racial identity and its impact on their ability to lead their school for high success for all students. They highlight struggles, disappointments and resilience as they strive to establish a racially equitable school.

Scott Masini, Principal – Bruce Vento Elementary – St. Paul Public Schools

Kirk Morris, Assistant Principal – Murray Middle School – St. Paul Public Schools

We emphatically and unapologetically believe the educational work in Minnesota consists of the development of cohorts of school leaders who learn together and know themselves well. In turn, they develop the knowledge, skills, courage and will to address systemic racism. We all know students deserve this and we must believe leaders do as well.

Minnesota School Leaders #1: Engaging in Racial Equity Leadership

Minnesota Schools Leaders in the Field: Engaging in Racial Equity Leadership

This information was initially published as a guest blog here at MMEP. We thank Candace Raskin, Ed.D and Melissa Krull, Ph.D from the
Minnesota State University, Mankato, Center for Engaged Leadership for their contributions.

“It takes courage to stand up to absurdity when all around you people remain comfortably seated. But if we need one more reason to do the right thing, consider this: The kids are watching us, deciding how to live their lives in part by how we’ve chosen to live ours.” Alfie Kohn, “Encouraging Educator Courage,” Education Week Online

The state of Minnesota has one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation between black and white children. The National Center for Education Statistics ranks Minnesota 38th out of 44 states for black student achievement in fourth grade math and 37th out of 45 states for black student achievement in reading. If Minnesota is serious about eliminating this gap and creating an educational system that is equitable – we need highly skilled, politically savvy, instructional leaders who courageously lead for all children. We know that strong achievement results stem directly from high quality school leaders and high quality teaching.

Our position is that leadership support and development extends well beyond the traditional licensure learning experience. Leaders of schools today, especially given the changing needs of learners, must have ongoing support, education and practice in courageously leading so that the racially predictable achievement disparities end while simultaneously improving results for all students. University and departments of educational leadership must step forward and create professional leadership development that is grounded in racial equity for sitting principals in Minnesota. If we are serious about developing leaders for the future, we (universities) must offer more than an 18-month licensure program. We need to stand alongside practicing principals and support their learning as they courageously lead in Minnesota schools.

Principal leaders have more leadership leverage than just about any other leader within the system. While principals may be well-trained to do their job in preparation licensure programs, once they move into a school and see the real faces of their students and their families–reality sets in. The accountability measures are authentic and the responsibility to genuinely make a lasting difference for each and every student is palpable. We contend that principal leaders set the bar for their schools. So goes the principal, so goes the school. When principals lead effectively for a return on results, ALL students have a fighting chance at high achievement levels.

Two years ago we decided to step in to this work and take action. Our goal was to arm principals with key practices that we know get real, definable results for students. We created and launched the first Institute for Courageous Principal Leadership through Minnesota State University, Mankato Center for Engaged Leadership. Our first cohort was comprised of 34 sitting principals/assistant principals and principal interns from 8 urban, suburban and rural school districts

Our vision…

In an era of unprecedented educational challenge and need, further prepare principals to lead with fearlessness, skill, self-knowledge and racial competence so that under their leadership, EVERY child fully achieves.

Our mission…

Every participating leader in our institute ensures access, fairness, equity and opportunity—every child, every day.

These impressive candidates in the Institute are honing their skills to eliminate teaching, leading and achievement gaps in schools while ensuring achievement for all students. These leaders are creating school cultures where every student is fully engaged. They are discontinuing practices that lead to status quo results and assertively incorporating practices that will lead to high level outcomes for all of their students.

The curriculum for the Institute for Courageous Leadership is centered on nine leading strands:

Equity and Achievement

  • Understanding the relationship between race and learning

Developing Self

  • Leading through reflection, racial consciousness, 360 assessment and a deeper understanding of leadership beliefs, behaviors, and moral imperative

Developing Others

  • Becoming a leader who can lead the development of others in creating a culture that disrupts inequitable systems and structures within Minnesota schools

Change Processes

  • Initiating, facilitating and sustaining change with resilience

High Leverage Leadership Practices

  • Knowing and implementing practices that lead to increased student learning and courageously discontinuing practices that have no impact or negative impact on student learning

Political Leadership

  • Navigating political will while staying true to the right work and doing what’s best for all students

Communicating It Right

  • Communicating so others will listen, follow, believe and behave in a manner that results in increased student learning

Using Data

  • Using data to inform instruction and guide decision making in schools

Leading with Confidence

  • Acting and deciding with intention, assurance and self-reliance

The curriculum is delivered through monthly meetings where the principals engage in ongoing examination of strong principal leadership. They conduct action research through the use of case studies using interactive methodology and engage with local and national experts on cutting edge topics that address what is really working and needed to improve learning for all students. Continuous self-reflection and personal development are woven throughout the two-year experience. All of this work is grounded in racial equity while seriously and courageously evaluating the systems, processes and data within their own schools that perpetuate inequities among students. Ultimately they study and then act with intention to apply new practices back in their schools.

They begin their journey by identifying a set of beliefs and behaviors that will guide their participation in the two year cohort experience. For example members of cohort two have agreed upon the following beliefs that will set the tone for the coming two years:

We have the responsibility to guarantee a learning environment where all students and staff are held to high expectations and achieve at high levels.

We have a responsibility to guarantee that all students, families and staff are valued and belong.

We must persevere with a clear vision and purpose to be a racially conscious agent of change.

Watch and listen to members of one of our new cohorts talk about how participating in this institute is impacting their leadership.

Kenneth Turner, Principal, North St. Paul

Hans Ott, Assistant Principal, St. Paul Public Schools