Does Your Building Culture Promote Equity Education?


“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a phrase coined by Peter Drucker and made more famous by Ford president, Mark Fields.

Likely all of us in education resonate with that phrase and concept to varying degrees, and I assume everyone is unanimous in thinking that absent a strong culture it is more difficult to move forward with key strategies and initiatives, regardless of how compelling or sound in practice they are. Many of the recommendations outlined in independent studies surrounding equal access to education are embodied in the process of policy making. Policy gets tied up in legislation and politics at the national, state, and local level and is disseminated for implementation in the form of mandates which are meted out procedurally in school districts and ultimately implemented at the school building level. This type of change is slow, cumbersome, frustrating and can take years. In order to create conditions which foster educational equity in your schools, focus on creating a culture which supports equity education. Continue reading

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Minnesota Humanities Center Conference

Blog Post paid for by the Minnesota Humanities Center

The Minnesota Humanities Center is taking applications for the Educator Institute, held in St. Paul the week of June 25–30. Administrators, please encourage a team from your building to attend this incredible experience for K–12 educators!

“The Educator Institute remains the single most powerful training I have participated in and has opened the path to on-going changes in dialogue both in the classroom and with community members.” Continue reading

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The Attitude of The Leader

post by Baruti Kafele

For the 14 years that I served as an urban principal in New Jersey, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the notion that the achievement gap was my primary issue. Although it existed and it was rather wide, I did not see a change in instructional practices being the solution to closing this gap. I was convinced that the problem was deeper than achievement yet within our grasp to correct. It was my strong contention then, as it continues to be today, that the attitudes of students, staff, and administrators matter. As I say regularly, attitude is everything!

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Grading for Learning: A Standards-Based Grading Journey

I was once asked what the purpose of school is. What a great question! To be honest I had to really think about the answer, surprised that such a simplistic question could cause me to pause. Schools nurture, inspire, educate; all needed and very important virtues to our students and families we serve, but what I finally landed on was learning. The Wikipedia definition for learning states that “Learning is the act of acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information.” This happens every day in each of our schools. However, this question prompted myself and our administrative team to think deeper about what our practices, procedures and policies were and whether learning was truly prioritized within our school.

If indeed learning is the business of our business, do all of our systems within our schools truly promote and reflect that?

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How Play Powers Social and Emotional Learning

playworksIn July 2015, the American Journal of Public Health published the results of a study that found children’s social and emotional skills in kindergarten are associated with long-term success.

The longitudinal study rated kindergarteners’ chances of success in young adulthood based on their levels of social competency at age five. These competencies, often known as pro-social skills, include skills such as the ability to share materials, resolve peer problems, cooperate, and listen.

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Top 20 Thinking – Pursue the Positive!

Have you heard about Top 20?
Are you creating habits that “Pursue the Positive”?

Fairmont Area Schools have been working hard to connect the schools and community together to build a positive culture for students, parents, and community members. We use four community wide themes throughout this year that help to bring everyone together. Our Top 20 community wide themes for the year are as follows:

Sept-Oct =Help Others Succeed
Nov-Jan =You Matter
Feb-March =Honor the Absent
April-May = See the problem, own the problem

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RPM is Here for You


Retired Principals of MESPA (RPM) are your colleagues who have retired from their principalships and remain active, engaged members of MESPA.

“MESPA was there for us before we retired and now RPM members want to be there for MESPA.”

Many RPM members continue to work in leadership and education related fields, volunteer in schools and the community, or have started their own businesses and companies. Please let RPM share some thoughts, insight, and support as you kick-off another school year.

Given the political climate in our country, the violence in our communities, and around the world, along with the volatile language reporting these events in the media, social and otherwise, anticipate that students may carry the psychological and behavioral impact into our schools and into our classrooms. This climate could definitely influence the learning environment. It potentially may also weigh heavily on staff and teachers. This is the time as leaders you may need to raise to higher ground the school climate and be prepared to manage and resolve, not avoid, conflict that might occur. We all need to be conscious of our moral and ethical responsibilities, avoid getting caught in the political fray, and consciously set an example of good character. Experienced principals will be prepared for this impact on the teaching/learning environment and draw on their leadership skills to handle any situations that might arise around these issues.

This may be the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the importance of equity and how to resolve conflicting situations and differences of opinion. There may be a need to encourage teachers to help students become critical thinkers, problem solvers, and work at establishing good relationships. This is a good time to remember school leaders are responsible for the condition of the people, all of the people.

MESPA is always there to help you and the Retired Principals of MESPA stand with you. Best wished for a successful, enlightening and inspiring 2016-2017 school year.

Article by:
Byron Schwab, RPM Board
RPM MESPA Board of Directors Representative

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