Friday, November 19, 2010

Next Steps for North High


Post and videos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

There will be a meeting this Saturday to plan the next steps for North High School.  The video above leads off this post because in it Director Davis reads her amendment (a version of which was passed), and at the 2:00 mark she says we can no longer afford to disinvest in north Minneapolis.  That statement drew raucously enthusiastic applause, and we need that kind of energy tomorrow.

Here is what the Save North Coalition announced in an email regarding Saturday's meeting:

"The SAVE NORTH HIGH COALITION is hosting a
Community Meeting to Discuss Our Next Steps
Saturday, November 21st
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Zion Baptist Church
"Last Tuesday the community campaign to stop the closure of North High School won a partial victory when the Minneapolis Board of Education voted 4 to 3 to keep North High open another year if the community could recruit 125 9th graders to the school by March. While this is a far cry from what the community was demanding, it shows that when we organize, we have real power. It also provides a new window of opportunity to continue to organize to save our school!
"This Saturday lets come together as parents, students, teachers, alumni, and concerned community members from across the Twin Cities to map out our next steps to keep this school open and revitalize public education on the North Side and beyond. We need all hands on deck and all voices at the table this Saturday to collectively create a student recruitment plan, a political strategy, and to take the lead in creating a community-led vision for revitalizing North High School."
 
For those of you who haven't seen the rest of the footage from the most recent School Board meeting, it can be found, along with some commentary, after the jump...

In this video, Director Stewart amends Davis' motion to include extracurricular activities equal to or better than schools throughout the city.  Director Lydia Lee offered an amendment as well proposing that the number of incoming freshmen required to keep the school open be increased from 100 to 125.  Both passed.



In the video below, the amendments and motions continue, followed by a monologue by Director Williams. At the very end, he says that although he was not re-elected, he can be much more flexibly engaged as a northside resident and volunteer.



Debate continues, and this video is really for those who want to absorb just about every bit of information possible. One thing struck me, even as I was filming this extraordinarily dry bit of footage: No matter whether you agree with the decisions or proposals by this board and superintendent, whether you think they have done their job well, it's clear that they are taking their roles and responsibilities very seriously. There's plenty of blame that ought to fall on the shoulders of the school board for why we are where we are, but I think it's fair to at least concede that these members do sincerely want successful schools and well-educated children in our community.



The board begins to strategize about what it would take to get sufficient students to North High.



In the last video I shot, Director Flanagan makes a rather long statement about why she is voting against this proposal, and it can be summarized in fourteen words: She wants North to stay open but opposes how the proposal was brought forth.



There was some more posturing and parliamentary procedures that I (perhaps thankfully) didn't get on video because I was saving batteries for the final vote. Once again, if anyone really wants the full video, contact either the MPS Board or Insight News, as they were both recording for the duration.

But there is one final item that Director Stewart said that bears repeating: he made a claim that some of the supporters are not really here for the community, but instead are merely looking for a platform for their "socialist agenda" and North High provides a convenient way for that to happen. He was roundly booed for the statement, but I for one am glad he said it.

I for one have expressed reservations from the very first rally about why the whole corporatization of public schools was being lumped in with the drive to save North High. While I'm grateful for any help we get in the cause, I can't avoid thinking about what I saw from ACORN in their final year or two operating in Minneapolis. That organization was knocking on doors and trying to organize our community primarily as an exercise in seeking more funding. There was such high turnover that nobody really built relationships with people in the community or people in power.

And so I wonder what our friends from other parts of town will do now. Will they stick with us and do some heavy lifting? Will community input take precedent over their agenda if or when those two differ?

Furthermore, on the emails coming from PEJAM announcing the upcoming meetings, the root on the website name goes to "socialistminnesota."  Once again, I'm not terribly hung up on political affiliation if someone is rolling up their sleeves alongside others in the community and doing the hard work with us.  By all means, let's have some ideological diversity.  Still, warning bells go off in my head about whether or not the whole "socialistminnesota" entity is representative of or truly committed to north Minneapolis.  Only time will tell, but Stewart's willingness to say something he felt was necessary but knew wouldn't be well-received immediately made him one of my favorite people of the evening.

Remember, we need 125 students by 3/31/11!  The work starts tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Correction here: The post had a typo in the TITLE, for God's sake. The "f" is getting sticky on this keyboard and from time to time it just doesn't register. I have tried to proofread laboriously to catch any words that are missing f's and missed one here.

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