Achievement and Integration

 If you read the article in SunThisWeek 5/12/23, you were led to believe that ISD 192 approved the Achievement and Integration (A&I) Plan; we didn’t. The plan was merely presented. 

I’ve heard repeatedly from multiple sources on both sides of the continuum that it’s essentially free money. Sure perhaps, but I want to be sure that we are steering funds to our learners and direct instructional time, not to increase bureaucracy, racism and pay consultants that don't align with our strategic framework. 

ISD 192 qualified for additional Achievement and Integration revenue based on being designated as a racially isolated district. 171 school districts (of a total of 331) in Minnesota have A&I plans. Based on school year 2022-23 fall enrollment data, Farmington is considered a racially isolated district under Minnesota’s School Desegregation/Integration rules. A racially isolated school district is one in which district-wide enrollment of protected students is more than 20 percentage points higher than enrollment in any one of its adjoining school districts: Hastings. For the purposes of the Achievement and Integration program, protected students are defined as African/Black Americans, Asian/Pacific Americans, Chicano/Latino Americans, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and multiracial. IMO, MDE (based purely on racial data) assumes races are segregated and that an achievement gaps exists. 

A three-year A&I plan and annual budget needs to be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) by June 15, 2023 for review and approval. This plan must first be approved by the school board at our June 5, 2023 meeting.

An A&I plan is an additional component to the World's Best Workforce. It appears we will receive approximately $805,000/year for implementation in both the areas of integration and closing achievement gaps.

Equity isn’t actually found on the MDE website on A&I, but administration informed me that MDE requires this “Equity Criteria: Access, Participation, Representation, Outcomes.” Equity sounds nice, a lot like equality. It’s NOT! I agree that we should assure everyone has same access. How can we control their participation? I’ve been told we can encourage the participations of more student groups. However, this process shouldn’t cause us to focus on race! That would in itself be racist. Equitable representation means that staff race/socioeconomic status has to reflect that of our student population. How can we assure that during the hiring process, we aren’t racist? We should ensure we have the strongest candidate for each position is hired. Lastly, how we can control outcome. Outcome is a result of a personal choice. Administration told me that they simply hope the plan changes the outcomes. Perhaps it’s a game of he said she said.

Goals target specific protected class groups but strategies will allow and encourage participation from learners of all backgrounds.

Goal #1

Close the achievement gap and raise the number of BIPOC students taking AP and College in the School Courses from 21.5% (2022-23 data) to 25%

(Currently, BIPOC students comprise 27.7% of the student population.) 

Success Coaches (licensed educators working with students) in middle and high schools monitoring progress in courses
Family Cultural Advocates encourage participation in college and career pathways by working with families
I am all in here! Parental involvement is the number one factor of student success. (Take time to read the link article.)

Key Indicator of Progress: 

Increase the number of American Indian parents, guardians, and learners that attend our family engagement events.

This is the gauge used because it already exists, but only 1% of our student demographics are Native American. And IMO, to achieve integrations, these programs would have to be available for all to attend.

All students pass all courses

Goal #2: 

Decrease disparity of 2nd-5th grades Hispanic learners


Training in reading diagnostics (available to all learners) via Instructional Literacy Coaches

Engage families in their child’s education, giving resources to families to use with their children at home via Family Cultural Advocates
I mean to connect with our school social worker about ensuring we are making connections with outside programs that will benefit learners and family. And I wonder how will the Bridges program be incorporated or affected?

Singlehandedly, we can’t assume these gaps are based on race. Social (fatherless homes), economic (lack of finances for tutors) among other factors may be the cause, but by connecting with families, we may be addressing other real factors.

Goal #3: 

Increase racially diverse educators from 2.7% to 3.2% in 3-years


Expand advertising and connections with universities and colleges

Professional development for staff to meet the diverse needs of all learners

I’m concerned about how “restorative practices” may look in professional development. Restorative practices take conflict at school and train teachers to address the root of the problem and creating opportunities to see the conflict from other perspectives. At face value it seems legitimate unless we remove consequences for poor choices. 

In regards to increasing diverse educators, that’s great as long as any educator hired is the most qualified for the position. We must ensure we aren’t being racist in this practice.

Here’s how the $805,000 funding breaks down: 

18.6% on 1.5 FTE Instructional coaches 

37.2% on 2-4 Family Cultural Advocates

38.5% on 3 FTE Success coaches

2.5% on Administrative costs

3.1% on Multi District activities

I’ve specifically asked if the Panorama survey would be reinstated through these funds. I was told it hasn’t been talked about. It’s suspicious that the funds allocated here are $20,000 and the survey costs the district $15,000 to administer. In my fact finding, the Panorama survey is a breach on privacy (when we consistently hear “data privacy laws”), oversteps parental authority (asking questions on gender ideology, spirituality, sexuality, family beliefs and more) and hinges on the brink of socialism or Marxism (as it stores a psychological profile of students in a Statewide Longitudinal Data System). 

Funding for the plan comes 70% from state funding and 30% from our local levy (property tax dollars). In essence, our local levy would increase $241,500 across all of our property values. Perhaps that’s insignificant. However, it comes without any voter approval unless district residents raise enough pressure on the school board to not approve the plan.

District evaluation will happen every year. It will be lumped in with our World’s Best Work Force Goal review. I witnessed this review last fall (October 24, 2022 Board Meeting). I think we need more parents and community members at this review. I plan to hold administration accountable to meeting goals should the plan be approved and implemented.

I asked if A&I had been successful in meeting it’s goals in other districts that our administration has collaborated with. There was no concrete answer.

So my perspective? Does the good outweigh the bad? If we are able to engage parents and partner with them in education for the student success through the work of Family Cultural Advocates, offer more early literacy assessments and interventions, Success Coaches working with learners, I think it does. If more parents would voice their concern for the Panorama survey making sure this doesn’t fund such a survey, I would feel even more comfortable approving the plan.

I’d love to hear your perspective!


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