“The more people participate in the process of their own education, and the more people participate in defining what kind of production to produce, and for what and why, the more people participate in the development of their selves. The more people become themselves, the better the democracy”—Paulo Freire, educator & philosopher
In 2013, Minnesota passed vital legislation to ensure school districts set clear goals for addressing achievement gaps and are transparent and accountable to the public about their progress. The World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) law requires that every school district addresses these key objectives:
-All children are ready to learn.
-All third-graders can read at grade level.
-All racial and economic achievement gaps between students are closed.
-All students are ready for college and career.
-All students graduate from high school.
Each plan must align curriculum and instruction, so students are ready for college and career.
The progress of the plan is measured by capturing: closing gaps by student group; MCA scores; high school graduation rates; career and college readiness. It is the responsibility of school boards, administrators, and teachers to engage community members in the plan. In fact, the WBWF legislation specifies that an advisory committee must be set up in order to: involve the community during plan development; include members that reflect the diversity of the community; make recommendations to the school board on rigorous academic standards and achievement goals; post an annual report/hold public meetings/submit a summary to the Minnesota Department of Education. (See https://education.mn.gov/MDE/dse/wbwf/)
As MnEEP reviews the requirements of this legislation, it’s clear there is a great opportunity to use WBWF as a tool for engaging communities of color and American Indian students and families to develop academic achievement and career readiness strategies from their perspectives. This community engagement is critical and essential for building a strong race equity model. At MnEEP, along with communities across Minnesota, we have developed a Race Equity Action planning process that can also be used an essential tool for completing WBWF plans for every district.
How Does MnEEP’s Equity and Excellence in Education Action Planning Support WBWF Requirements?
Since 2013, Minnesota Education Equity Partnership has worked to develop a process that centers communities of color and American Indian families and student voices into school equity plans. Invited in by local rural communities, MnEEP has worked with local educators, Superintendents, community leaders, families, and students to guide a process to address “root causes” of academic opportunity gaps; describe the race equity context of the local community; address the importance of equity for prosperity, and recommend race equity policies and practices to address academic gaps.
This is documented into a Race Equity and Excellence in Education Action Plan for the school and community. The entire process of community engagement and a complete printed Equity Action Plan is 9 to 12 months (depending on funding and partner group’s capacity).
Taking theory to action, MnEEP is proud to have already provided top research and planning technical assistance in the Central and Southwestern Minnesota regions. Community members have remarked that the process “Got them to understand some root causes of barriers” and “make a Plan to address racial inequality.” Samples of these Plans can be found at: https://mneep.org/resource/a-promise-to-act-educational-equity-and-excellence-for-all-of-our-children/
The WBWF legislation is an opportunity to partner with MnEEP for research and technical assistance on facilitating and developing tools for community involvement. We cans share planning tools and facilitation techniques with communities of color forums and American Indian forums, and address questions regarding integrating community ideas into a district’s Plan.
As MnEEP discusses the energies that communities bring to Equity Plans, we are reminded of the great educator Paulo Freire who stated: “The more people participate in the process of their own education, and the more people participate in defining what kind of production to produce, and for what and why, the more people participate in the development of their selves. The more people become themselves, the better the democracy.”
Through the World’s Best Workforce legislation and MnEEP equity action planning process, Minnesota school leaders and communities of color and American Indian communities have the opportunity to strengthen our democratic public schools and address college and career readiness with stronger equity goals and aims!