You Can’t Be a World-Class City and Have Terrible Outcomes for Students of Color

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Earlier this year, activist and civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong held an education forum in Minneapolis to discuss the “Crisis in Public Education” as it pertains to glaring opportunity gaps for students of color not only in the Twin Cities, but in progressive cities around the country.

The focus on gaps in educational outcomes for students of color in majority-progressive cities came as a result of a new report from brightbeam, highlighting that Black and Brown students in progressive cities have, on average, higher racial gaps in math, reading, and graduation reports than conservative cities.

Ahead of the event, which was a part of Levy Armstrong’s Assata Speaks public forums, it was described as a place to discuss the underlying causes of these disparities, the role that racism, white supremacy, and low expectations play in fueling failure, and solutions.

Below are some highlights from a truly inspiring night that saw parents, activists, elected officials, and community members address the problem head on and pledge to keep up the fight against the status quo of poor educational outcomes for Minnesota’s black and brown students.

Nekima Levy Armstrong lamented the fact that while people may talk a good game about inequity, they rarely put in the required work to actually address the issues:

brightbeam CEO Chris Stewart called out the fact that education can be such a low-priority issue for so many politicians.

The report, and abysmal education numbers should be a catalyst for change, but will those in power take action?

How can you be a world-class city, celebrating increasing wealth, new condos, restaurants and green space, all while ignoring abysmal educational outcomes for students of color?

School board member Helen Bassett gave her take on the importance of high quality teacher prep programs and following science-based reading instruction.

Minnesota Parents Union president, Rashad Turner, was fed up with the narrative that essentially says “poor black kids cant learn.”

And Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis NAACP shared a though on integration, its unintended consequences, and the fact that it isn’t a silver bullet to magically save kids of color.

This was an impressive, fulfilling gathering of thought leaders, elected officials, disruptors, and warriors against the status quo in Minneapolis. If anything was clear after the valuable panel discussion and Q&A from the audience, it’s that the community was invested in disrupting the system and will continue fighting for improved educational outcomes for students of color in Minnesota.

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