The murder of George Floyd demanded that Minnesota, and the country, reckon with the violent systemic racism in American policing. The pandemic has made similar demands of our education system. The past couple of years were supposed to be a watershed moment of transformative change. Unfortunately, there now exists a narrative (and for the most part, a reality) that little progress has been made.
It has become clear that our systems are unlikely and unable to lead change at the scale of what is needed. The Minnesota State Legislature adjourned with billions left on the table this year. While community groups continue to demand a special session to move critical legislation forward to meet the urgent needs of students across the state, it remains doubtful that the legislature will substantially reconvene and pass an education bill.
At Pillsbury United Communities and our Office of Public Charter Schools, we are not waiting for the political posturing and an election cycle to conclude to move forward with transformational change. We are acting now. The primarily Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income students, and families we serve deserve an educational accountability system that is built for and designed by them.
Pillsbury United has been a community-driven charter school authorizer since 2007. We intentionally authorize schools that serve students who have historically been served poorly in traditional district settings, enduring chronic educational disparities for decades. We come to the work with an investment and a track record of attacking the institutional racism that plagues education.
In 2021 our team set out to redesign our accountability system for the schools in our portfolio to align with our values as an organization and the assets in our schools. Our goal has been to develop an accountability system that celebrates schools’ innovative, anti-racist, student-centered, and community-responsive practices, while also calling all of us to be better and do better.
No longer could we accept a narrative that our students were failing. Our students, families, and communities are incredible assets that bring infinite wisdom to our education system – if only we really listen to them and act.
In our structures, we have codified community wisdom into an accountability framework that is relevant and responsive to our students and not reliant on racist, white normative measurements of assessments. Our Equity Framework, developed in partnership with Future Focused Education, is the highlight of this work and will be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education for approval to ensure our schools report outcomes using our new system for the 2022-2023 school year.
This is the work our students, families, and communities have called for and it has been our mission to deliver.
Read the full framework here