R.T.’s Comments from the Action Agenda Release on August 18, 2014:
As children across our cities go back to school for another year, watch their faces as they get off the bus:
—-You see the look in their eyes and you like to think that every one of them has a chance to master reading and math, graduate from high school and college. You like to think every one of them can thrive.
—But the facts say something different. The facts say you can look at those kids getting off the school bus and predict their chance of success by looking at the color of their skin.
*The tragic fact is that there is almost no community in the county that has a larger achievement gap between white kids and kids of color.
This isn’t new: Minneapolis-Saint Paul,
–a community that is first in so many wonderful categories…
— has had one of the largest achievement gaps in the country for a long time.
Many people, for many years have been working hard to help give every child the chance they deserve. This compassionate community has not lacked the heart to solve this problem;
o We have lacked alignment.
o We have lacked focus.
o We have lacked the will to act NOW.
We have needed an aggressive, coordinated action plan that mobilizes the entire community behind a specific set of actions.
For 2 years Generation Next has been building a coalition to craft that plan and put it to work. Starting with the African American Leadership Forum and the University of Minnesota, we put together a powerful table that included the top foundations and business leaders.
- An executive committee with our co-chairs President Kaler and Kim Nelson of General Mills. Leaders from United Way, Bush Foundation, Wilder Foundation, Target and 3M
- We added a leadership team that included the Superintendents from Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Mayors of both cities —most of the major foundations and a broad range of community leaders.
- We laid out five key goals.
- We built networks of several hundred people who have been part of an intensive campaign to build a consensus around the three actions you will hear today.
(Their work will focus on the whole community and, this Fall, it will be intensified in six schools
–an elementary and high school in both cities, and two charters.)
We went back to that table of leading funders and asked them to realign their priorities to support the new focus.
- In a few minutes you will hear a major announcement that reflects the funding community is beginning to align as well.
We also dramatically improved Generation Next’s ability to understand the factors that created this problem and—more important, use data to expand what’s working and stop doing what isn’t.
- We deepened our partnership with Wilder Research so rich data is now to available to everyone on our website.
- We expanded our partnership with the many research resources at the University of Minnesota.
- We are cofunding data positions in both school districts— and are working with charter schools— to answer questions like:
—–Which programs are most effective in getting children ready for kindergarten?
—– what reading strategies are working in school and out of school?
— which interventions are helping more kids graduate?
There is not one single action we can take to give every child, no matter what race or background, the chance they deserve to thrive.
We need many actions —
—–on many fronts and
When that child walk off the school bus—-
—–they won’t see the people in this room and the thousands more we need to be part of this coalition.
But that child—and and EVERY child
–no matter who they are or where they live—
needs to know all of us have their backs.
That we are ready to do whatever it takes to make sure this great community that has taken on so many great challenges and won—
—-can finally say that every single one of our children