The Burroughs Community School Controversy: A Modern Day Witch Hunt
Written by Ray Neset and Terry Yzaguirre
Thursday, 30 April 2009 18:00
I'd like to start out by telling you my perception of the Minneapolis public schools based on my own experiences spanning the last forty some years. As a child and teenager, I knew what schools were deemed “good” or “bad.” It had nothing to do with education but rather skin color. Back then people seemed to be far less concerned about political correctness.
Throughout my memory, Washburn and Southwest High Schools have been considered the most elite public high schools in Minneapolis.
When a new breed of residents moved in, South’s reputation slowly changed with the demographics in the area, making it a more desirable school. For those of us that lived over near Powderhorn area, it became known as another school where people wanted their children to attend.
People felt safe sending their children to Roosevelt. It was also known as a pretty good school for that area of town.
When I was growing up, there was the old Central High. It was a mostly African Americans, because that’s who lived on the west side of Chicago Avenue.
I would be disingenuous if I didn't admit that stereotyping back then led my mother to send me to Regina High School, an all-girls private school. Central would have been my home school, but at the time, my mother wouldn't hear of it.
I hounded my mom, pleading with her to allow me to attend Central. She finally conceded, eventually finding herself working there through the school district. It was about this time that my mom’s perception of African Americans changed.
Let’s fast forward to 2009. Due to school board decisions, every school has suffered changes forcing many parents to uproot their children to avoid schools they may not want them to attend. They've stood up and fought to stop the changes or the closing of schools, but it has been to no avail. As a plan of dealing with the changes, many families move into neighborhoods specifically for the schools they want their children to attend.
Schools like Washburn, Roosevelt, and South are experiencing extreme demographic changes with the addition of Somali and Hispanic immigrants. When they tore down the old Central, Roosevelt became the home school which my oldest son attended and he did well coming from a private school.Later my twins attended Washburn with poor results causing me to search high and low to find a school where they would fit in and excel. As a point of clarification, my children are bi-racial.
The only school that seems to have escaped, unscathed by any drastic changes, is Southwest. It's as though while the rest of the city suffers changes Southwest seems to stand still in time. I think any of us that are familiar with the situation in our public schools, realize that we will not change Southwest.. We sit quietly and except it. With open enrollment programs, teenagers with their own wills are eligible to choose where they want to attend, except Southwest, where it remains difficult to break into their magnet programs.
Now I had not even thought about zeroing in on grade schools. I assumed that they were pretty much all integrated, and everyone was playing nice with all people that live in our city. That was until the Burroughs Community School publicly cried foul! I guess I was wrong in my assumption. Whoever would have thought that grade school-age children, who are so impressionable and open to change, would become the center of a controversy centering on race?
I believe that any parent who wouldn't fight for their children’s best interest, no matter what their circumstance, to keep them healthy, safe, clothed, fed and educated, shouldn’t be parents or at least their child rearing abilities should be questioned. However, when parents use their children in front of the news cameras to manipulate the greater community to pursue an agenda, it makes me question their motives and their parenting skills.
I have been following the news coverage involving the Burroughs Community School, its principal, Tim Cadotte and Minneapolis School Board Director, Chris Stewart. I decided to do my own research into what is really going on.. It’s been quite a challenge. Many of the minor players sitting on the sidelines seem unwillingto suffer the hand of wrath for speaking out on this issue. Instead, they choose to remain anonymous. After I attended the rally for Mr. Cadotte held at Lynhurst Park, I could understand why. The rally seems to an outsider more like a modern day witch-hunt.
Everyone observes things differently, so they are free to draw their own conclusions, but the rally gave a hint to the true colors and the hypocrisy that some people seem to live by. Let’s start from the beginning. What follows is an email sent to members of the Board of Education. I’ve added bolding to the text that I find questionable in this controversy.
BURROUGHS SITE COUNCIL RESPONSE TO MPS "CHANGING SCHOOL OPTIONS" March 27, 2009
Dear Members of the Board of Education:
In response to Minneapolis Public School’s (MPS) "Changing School Options" initiative, and the attendant uncertainties, we, the Site Council at Burroughs Community School, want to state our preferences for the future of our school:
We want to keep our Burroughs families together and the educational community we have built together intact. This includes a recommitment to our Spanish-speaking families and to the highly developed bilingual resources that remain available at Burroughs. These are the foundations of our successful school and a part of our identity.
We understand that in the face of yet another multimillion dollar deficit, MPS must make difficult choices to adjust programs, building populations, and Transportationto better-fit present student populations. However, we strongly believe that the way to get from our present situation to a more sustainable and successful future is not by making radical changes to schoolsthat are presently doing a great job and are in high demand.
Burroughs is a successful school. This is true if judging by parent satisfaction, efficient delivery of services, academic growth for all Burroughs populations, and student achievement as measured by test scores. The way to improve is to build upon our current strengths, not to undertake dramatic changes that may be appropriate to other parts of the district.
We realize that many of the details of "Changing School Options" have yet to be worked out. However, we want policy-makers to have a clear understanding of what the Burroughs community desires.
1.. Present families stay here. Our perspective is: Once at Burroughs, you are part of the Burroughs family. Pulling current students out of schools that are performing well is simply unacceptable. Students and their families are invested in Burroughs and these relationships. Our teachers and staff likewise have a stake in the learning community they have built together. If MPS determines that system-wide changes are necessary, common sense and courtesy demand that changes apply only to incoming classes. We want present Burroughs families to have the option to continue at Burroughs through the fifth grade. Otherwise, the upheaval resulting from restructuring may serve only to spur a further exodus from MPS schools.
2.. Families stay together. No family should be forced by MPS policy to choose between two unpalatable alternatives: either juggling elementary-age children at different schools, or exiting Burroughs altogether. We want a commitment to "sibling preference" in recognition of both its importance to families and the value of the relationships that the Burroughs community has developed over time.
3.. Recommit to our Spanish-speaking population. Although Burroughs is in the first year of the phase-out of its successful NLL program (designed to support Spanish-speaking students in their transition to the general student population), the majority of our Spanish-speaking families, bilingual staff, and related resources are still in place. Recommitting to a program, NLL or otherwise, to serve our Spanish-speaking students sustains diversity and works to reduce the achievement gap. Existing strengths and expertise to serve this population are already in place. Keeping these students and the staff who serve them is preferable to replacing these students with another group of students to address the identical issues of diversity and achievement.
So as you weigh significant changes to MPS school choice options, please consider the strongly held desires of the Burroughs Site Council and the wider Burroughs community: keeping our Burroughs families and community together, and preserving the opportunity to successfully work with the students of our Spanish-speaking families. Doing so would be good for Burroughs. Doing so would be good for MPS.
Sincerely, The Burroughs Site Council March 27, 2009
Sent by Kip Wennerlund
After reading Wennerlund’s email, I wonder how would the exodus of Burroughs’ students be bad for MPS? If the students enroll in private school while their parents remain in the city and continue to pay taxes, this only lightens the burden of MPS. It's a fantastic school; I doubt there will be any shortage of students wanting to attend. If they move out of the city, does anyone really believe that their million dollar homes won’t sell as fast as they put them on the market? What the Burroughs community fails to realize is that ‘their’ school belongs to all the taxpayers of Minneapolis. They don’t own any larger a control over their local school than they own a greater share of City Hall or the State Capital, yet they seem to want to have a private school system in a public school building.
On April 17th Minneapolis School Board member Chris Stewart walked into the Burroughs Community School. In spite of the criticism that followed, he was walking into the school to check it out, something that shouldn’t even be an issue. I have always lived by the rule if you’re not doing anything wrong, you should have nothing to hide. This is what we elected Stewart to do and to my knowledge, he was doing his job.
According to people from the Burroughs camp, an argument ensued between Tim Cadotte and Stewart where it is alleged that at some point during the exchange, Stewart accused Cadotte and the school community of being racist. According to all the news reports, those present have been told to refrain from discussing the events while it is under investigation. So my first question is, how did this exchange leak out? Clearly, someone is talking.
To make this a little bit more interesting, let’s say Mr. Stewart did call them ‘racists.’ What about their actions led Stewart to make this accusation? Right or wrong, there’s something about this situation that could be interpreted as ‘racist,’ otherwise where would the rumor have originated?
One of the topics that seem to keep coming up is the NLL (Native Literacy Language) program. According to the press conference that I attended, this is a program that has been in existence at the school for 10 to 12 years. The school announced to the district that the program was to be phased out to accommodate more students from the area. The decision was based on feedback from parents. However, some parents were resistant to ending the program and wanted the Spanish-speaking children in the program to be better integrated into the school’s general population.
According to MinnPost’s article, Minneapolis School Change: What will this mean for the children?by Magaly Ferreira and Siri Anderson, “NLL programs seek to ensure a student becomes literate (able to read and write) in his or her first language before emphasizing doing so in a second language. Considerable research has demonstrated that people who learn to read and write in their first language — the language they first speak at home — achieve better academic outcomes across their lifetime than people who can only read and write in their second language (in this case English).”
However, it is my understanding that the decision to drop NLL was due to the Burroughs parents, not MPS.
The school board feeling the budgetary pinch proposed that Burroughs adoptthe Choice of Yours program. It was at this point at which the school decided that they wanted the NLL program back.
As a point of clarification, The Choice Is Yours is a Minnesota State programforMinneapolis families who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch to also qualify for priority placement in certain identified magnet programs in Minneapolis. Space availability varies at each school.
If you can’t read between the lines, this is about allowing poor children to get priority placement into the schools of their parents’ choice. To add to this already hot issue, talk of ending open schools and in their place creating community schools would force a redrawing of the lines, forcing current Burroughs student to be uprooted to other schools. This is what seems to have parents in an uproar. Money and influence is what’s driving the controversy.
A question that needs to be answered is why Principal Cadotte was suspended? Burroughs parents would have the community focus on Stewart without shedding any light on what’s been going on behind the scenes at Burroughs.
Some people told us on and off the record, something that the media and the parents aren’t saying, is that the Principal is no saint.
If Burroughs is such an excellent school, than why have so many African American families living in the Burroughs’ district chosen to have their children attend Ramsey? I’m waiting for a call back from the school district to confirm that the number is over 100.
Roland Amundson along with a private investigator sat down with Ray and I to share his thoughts and experience with Tim Cadotte and Burroughs School.
Roland Amundson, who the New York Times describes as "a highly regarded judge who sat on the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the state's second-highest court. Mentioned in legal circles as a likely nominee to the State Supreme Court, he was a popular public speaker, served on charitable boards in Minneapolis, and seemed to know everyone. Colleagues described him as brilliant and charming." Many will also remember what eventually brought his prestigiouslegal career to an abrupt end; "he was convicted for taking $400,000 from a trust fund he oversaw for a woman with the mental capacity of a 3-year-old. Amundson doesn't deny any of this. “Rollie,” as friends refer to him, explained his history with the Burroughs principal:
Roland: I’ve known Tim Cadotte for 35 years. There’s probably few people alive that know Tim Cadotte better than I do because—I’ve known him for 35 years. I remember him very well. He was teaching hair cutting at a barber school. I used to go in there for cheap haircuts.
Tim’s first partner (Lionel) was African American and Tim never liked his partner's family. They were never welcome at their home. After Tim and Lionel broke up, we talked a lot. When Tim developed another relationship with a white guy, I think he was from the South, but if not he had a 'Southern' mentality. Together they'd make references that were very unkind. I don't mean unkind, they were just racist. That's when I kind of broke off from them. I've never been into that racist garbage.
Cadotte started his own salon downtown in the Commercial Building—as a lawyer I wrote his lease. He left the salon to complete his requirements for an elementary teacher’s certificate. He got it. Tim started teaching at a school in Northeast Minneapolis, now called Sheridan Global Arts and Communications School, there weren't that many students of color at that time. When he obtained his administrative license he was promoted and eventually came to Burroughs with the distinct idea that he was going to make it a better school than the suburbs, 'A better place for children than the Suburbs, he would say.' How do you do that?
Ray: I don't know, how do you do that?
Roland: Start with “ better stock”. Barrels of ink have been spilled addressing the difficulty with many inner city schools. An inordinate number of children come with whole panoply of unmet needs. When you get a lot of children from poor families, single parent households, and other special challenges schools just have to do triage. Teachers there often have too many students, many of whom have special needs, and many students with ordinary needs—like breakfast. A teacher in such circumstance is probably asking, “ How do I get from 8 am to 3 pm, just trying to maintain some semblance of order needed for learning? Many children with attention and personality problems go completely undiagnosed. Even Caucasian children from two parent families with college and graduate degrees may go unassisted. I know, unfortunately, I had a son in Minneapolis Public Schools (Burroughs) who had Asperberger’s Syndrome and it went undiagnosed the entire five years he was there. Asperger’s is a form of high functioning autism, he has streaks of genius but sometimes is unable to remember to wear shoes. He sat all those years completely bored with “coloring giraffes” when he really wanted to discuss the teacher’s anthropomorphic characterization of the giraffe. How did they react to his restless genius—they put him back a grade. When I was awarded sole physical custody of all four boys, I placed them in a school district where I was then living---in a suburb. It was not long before they detected and addressed his emotional and psychological state. That school system has the resources sufficient for the needs of that school population. It was easy to understand, that the way you get high ranking all-school test ratings. You populate your school with basically suburban kids (white students) that are homogenously fungible; and that was and is clearly Tim’s intention at Burroughs. Pack the school with upper class and middle class bourgeoisie and displace “the rest.” So, when this thing blew up with Chris Stewart it didn't surprise me at all. Why it took the School Board so long to figure this out did surprise me. Tim is at heart a racist, and his plans and policies result in de facto segregation.
PI: Whoa back up a bit. He was going to Burroughs until you had sole custody and when you put him in another district, they noticed something a few weeks after being there? Burroughs missed this that whole time?”
Terry: How long had the boys gone to Burroughs?
Roland: Four years.
PI: So in 4 years, one of the schools in the Minneapolis School District (Burroughs) missed having this kid tested?
Terry: And held him back a year?
Roland: Yes, held him back a year, and he is a genius. He was bored!
PI: That is a critical concern!
Roland: I haven't talked to Tim in a couple of years now, but what I do know what he was doing and is continuing to do: protecting his turf. If he’s doing it because he's philosophically a racist or he's protecting his turf because he wants to keep the test score numbers up, I don't know, but he's protecting his turf.
When I was in prison my ex partner started a custody battle (as if I could have contested a custody arrangement), but to make certain some inaccuracies he had alleged I needed the boys’ school records. First of all, we lived in Eden Prairie and I wanted to know why they were in Burroughs School. What was going on? How did they get into Burroughs school? Of course, I knew how they got there. Together, Cadotte and my ex-partner yanked two of the boys from Montessori and put all four in Burroughs, a Minneapolis school. Open enrollment? Not at all. They used a fictitious address. If it were open enrollment why did they have to use the address of my ex.’s friend in south Minneapolis? Could Cadotte have not known their true address and residence? Hardly, especially when you consider that he helped us move into that house and visited there frequently.
When I was in prison, Cadotte did some more strange things. Even before I was incarcerated it was determined that I had some deep, long undetected psychological problems. Most evidently a deep depression. Despite that, or maybe using that opportunity, my ex inveigled me to sign a power of attorney in his favor which was only notarized later by a friend of his who had never witnessed anyone’s signature on the document. And one of the phantom signatories: Tim Cadotte. Tim Cadotte wasn't there at the time of my alleged signature and, of course, never witnessed the non-signing. In sworn deposition my ex partner admitted this three times.
Roland asked his private investigator to explain what happened when he was sent to the school to get copies of the children’s school records.
PI: Roland had signed the release authorizing us to receive information on the students, at which, there was no custody order saying whether he did or did not have custody. I went into the school and the woman behind the counter said, 'The Principal will have to look at this.' Which I thought, 'Yeah, no problem.'
When Tim came out he looked at the name and told me to get the hell out of the school, he wasn’t going to give me crap, and if I ever came back he would call the police and have me arrested.
According to Amundson the threat of the police was made, but never used.The private investigator was there with a signed (this time genuinely) authority to release my children’s school records to him. Further, the private investigator is a resident of Minneapolis himself. And he was thrown out and threatened with arrest? He was within his legal right to request the information and had never done anything wrong.” As the PI offered, he was not wandering around peering in classrooms.
Then the conversation turned to why Cadotte would have reacted that way.
Roland: Because he knows in the records it shows their address is in South Minneapolis and he knows they don't live there. He knew it was fraud. He falsified or permitted the falsification of official State records. That’s a felony! I'll tell you why. The City of Eden Prairie or the school district was entitled to that money from those children. He stole it. That money from state aid should have been going to Eden Prairie, not Minneapolis. They lived in Eden Prairie. Every time you put a white kid in the school, it prevents a minority coming in. Draw your own conclusions. The childrenE2s records had been changed, but I found the original documents. This was also admitted to in court.
Ray: Why would Scott Dibble and the other legislators sign a letter weighing in on this situation before the investigation is complete?
Roland:It's a violation of law for public employees to campaign for political candidates on State time. Cadotte was an early supporter of Scott Dibble and very prominent in his campaign. But here’s the important point. What do you care about the individual sentiments of a State Legislator? What do they know about the Minneapolis Public Schools? If they know so much about it, why are these schools in such bad shape? But on the other hand, you should care about what a school Board member thinks. That’s their job---and why on earth do you presume a school board member has to “announce” a visit? Is this royalty he’s checking on? Or his employee? That’s Cadotte’s boss. The entire School Board is his boss. Cadotte had a responsibility as any department head would have to a legislator. I'll tell you why. You are the representative of that school, and a representative of a number of programs for that school. If you want to get anywhere with the School Board, you had better get along. You do not pull boners like that on a school board member. But Tim isn't use to that. He is an autocrat. He's used to running Burroughs Public School with unchallenged authority and his test numbers look good, parents, school board, the press---and everybody’s happy. I'll tell you why this isn't fair. Tim disadvantaged his students because now Burroughs has a black eye. The School Board should look carefully into this imbroglio.
This isn't a public school. It’s the Tim Cadotte Private School. Filled with little white kids ready to be nourished by other white kids drinking the milk of whiteness. It's not a Minneapolis public school. It’s a fiefdom.
It may be that Cadotte is going to have to back pedal. It may be so serious a mistake that even these Plantation-owning Southwest Minneapolis liberals may be unable to rescue him and his exclusive programs. Such disappointment for the limousine liberals who think Cadotte walks on water. Exactly why are they so enamored of their principal? Because he’s keeping their school safe for their white kids. That way they get it both ways: the conceit of having their kids in an “urban school,” but with all the safety and assurance of the safest hamlet. Send them up to North Minneapolis. This is just nothing but insulation from the true metropolitan life-- a cocoon of bigotry. In the midst of this multi-racial school district, why is there this very small, swell, area, white as any sheet, and apparently impenetrable? Well the reason you do that is because nature abhors a vacuum. If you have this much space in a cup and you fill it up with cream. There’s no room for any black coffee is there. No room at all in that cup.
According to Amundson and his private investigator, everything that was told to us is in court records and depositions. They added that they have evidence to prove everything when it comes to the falsification of documents.
Roland denies any suggestion of 'sour grapes.' That's not why he's exposing Tim Cadotte or Burroughs; he's now won full custody of all four children. He clarifies his reasons:
Roland: Could you imagine throwing a school board member out of your school? This is his boss. Why does he have to announce that he’s coming in? You know why? Because this is his school.
Terry: What about the parents that don't agree with some of the decisions the school has made, like those parents that wanted their children to co-mingle with the Hispanics kids? Did the other half of the parents have that much power to shut them down to get what they want?
Roland: Isn’t that what they did in the South until the 1960’s? Hello! People are pretty good at that. It’s called de facto segregation. Of course it’s not segregated by law but it’s segregated by fact. What the hell's the difference? Of course the parents are delighted. I used to go to school meetings. I always sat quietly, unseen or heard in the back of the room. Moving through the coded messages, there was always that unstated, 'Yeah, Tim’s doing a good job for us and we sure like the quality of our school.' Figure out what that means.. Was the next step giving out white hoods and sheets at the meeting?
PI: Don’t you think you're going a little over the edge?
Roland: No I am not.
Terry: I felt uncomfortable standing in the crowd at the rally earlier in the week and had to concur with his assessment.
Roland: Look at the statistics. This tiny school is a last gasping stand for segregation. All of Minneapolis is becoming multi-cultural, a place of color, multiple languages and many people are afraid of it. What is racism all about but fear? He plays on fear by assuring them that their children can have it both ways. They can go to a Minneapolis Public School and not even know they are not in Edina or Eden Prairie.
If Amundson's statements are true, it might explain why Chris Stewart would have made the alleged accusation to Cadotte.
Roland: As I said, he's on to something and he knows it. He’s tapped this accidentally or there’s a lot of discussion out there. I don’t know if he knows all of it, but it’s well known in the black community. Chris isn't the one whipping up a fury of media Ask Cadotte who set up that rally?
I’ve spoken with numerous people who have recounted explosive conversations with Cadotte, most of them women; detailing being verbally belittled as he chased them out of the building. The following is a letter from a neighborhood resident to Senator Dibble, urging him to move cautiously:
Dear Senator Dibble;
It was great to see you in the paper this week. I have lived in Minneapolis for 6 years this April and have voted for you every chance I have gotten.
I am writing to you today to say that I feel very strongly that there is more to be seen with the conflict that occurred between the school board of Minneapolis and the principal of Burrows. I want to share with you an experience that happened to me 5 years ago when I attended ECFE classes at the Burrows campus:
In the Spring Quarter of 2004 I was very pregnant with my second child, and attending family education classes with my first son, 16 months. I was running late for my ECFE class on the second floor of Burrows, and neglected to sign in. You see, I was trying to catch up with another very pregnant mom in my class who had also neglected to sign in so that we could share the elevator. As I passed the office, I heard a loud male voice calling out to me. It's been 5 years, and I still remember the volume, the tone and selection of words he used. I was being yelled at! I turned to see what administrator had chosen to yell at me, a very pregnant parent visiting the school. Who should I see but the Principal. He was yelling that I "really must sign in-all visitors must sign in, it clearly states on all the building's doors that all visitors must sign in; there is a sign right here that says you must sign in." He was gesticulating for emphasis when he indicated the sign that stands just outside the administrative offices. Of course I accompanied him into the administrative offices to sign myself and the other mom in. The Principal continued to bluster around the offices, venting his indignation at "people who cannot do a simple thing like signing in." He was socially distancing me from a room filled with his staff, making an example out of me, to what purpose? There weren't any other parents or visitors around? He was simply out of control!
I was furious. I had never been spoken to in this manner by anyone since moving to the state of Minnesota from New York 2 years prior. And this was an administrator at a school? Ahem-HEAD Administrator at a community school blocks from my home. This was a person who had the care of children? Access to children's tender ears? I decided then and there that my kids would not be educated in such an environment. We applied and were accepted at another SMPLS public school.
Sen. Dibble, you and I spoke at length when you attended an ECFE Leadership Council Meeting of the SOUTHPAC, of which I was a member. I know that you genuinely care about the children in your district. Principal Cadotte has either an anger management issue, a God or founder's complex, or both.
Please do not be hasty in taking sides. Please wait until all is revealed about the conflict that occurred between Principal Cadotte and School Board Member Stewart and the many people he represents. I want to remind you that School Board is an elected position! Principal, I believe, is not.
I am copying School Board Member Lydia Lee, whom I escorted to a group of site visits for SOUTHPAC when she was a new School Board member.
I am copying School Board Member Stewart with whom the conflict occurred.
I am copying the journalists for the Strib so that the press can have visibility into my perspective as a parent in the Southwest neighborhood who does NOT support Principal Cadotte.
I am copying William English-a respected leader in our community who is urging you to exercise caution before you lend your considerable influence in choosing a side.
I don't think mine is the only story of Principal Cadotte's unchecked anger. I urge you to dig deeper before you take sides.
Thank you all so much for your time, and the wonderful work you do for our city!
Former ECFE member
If this mother's experience is a legitimate example of the treatment some parents receive from Tim Cadotte, the Principal, why would parents rally behind him in support? Some believe that the community seems to be using the principal to maintain a lily-white agenda of exclusion. I’ve spoken with individuals that confirmed that some parents have made the argument that the district cannot afford to lose any more ‘educated’ white parents.
It is incumbent upon me to point out that all this is hearsay, but so is the conversation that allegedly took place between Stewart and Cadotte. No one outside the principle payers knows why Cadotte was suspended. The end result of this should be what’s in the best interest of the children of Minneapolis.
In a letter to Tom Madden, Chair-Minneapolis Board of Education, from State Representatives D. Scott Dibble, 60, Patricia Torres Ray, 62, Ken Kelash, 63, Frank Hornstein, 60B, Jeff Hayden, 61B, Paul Thissen, 63A and Margaret Anderson Kelliher, 60A state:
Dear Chair Madden and Directors:
Thank you for your hard work and diligence in proposing changes to Minneapolis School District operations to better reflect current enrollment and funding realities. We recognize that important changes need to be made. We also recognize that these changes will not be easy to bring about. We affirm your leadership and we stand ready to assist in any way we can. Our children need to be our number one shared priority.
This work began last year with the adoption of a laudable strategic plan and continues with the Changing School Options effort now underway.
As is true of any change process of this magnitude, obstacles and pitfalls are bound to arise. We are concerned about recent incidents that threaten to devolve this effort from one of problem solving and opportunity building to one fraught with resentment and polarization.
We hope you can agree that the excellence we find in many schools is attributable to factors we would want for each and every school. Namely, parental and community involvement, vital and energetic teachers and administrators, and a richness of diversity. It is important that our community fully appreciates that this process seeks to upholding and affirm that success and be absent of any notions of jealousy, rivalry or threats to dismantle these very things.
At no time and in no manner have we detected anything but full support by active and thoughtful members of our school communities to widely shared district-wide goals of full access to an excellent education for all kids, aggressive efforts to eliminate achievement gaps, and a full embrace of diversity and desegregation.
The seemingly abrupt administrative leave forced on Principal Tim Cadotte after an exchange with an elected district leader is alarming. By any available measure, Tim Cadotte is among the most successful principals in the school district. He must be reinstated to his position as soon as possible.
We would also hope that you take the opportunity undertake whatever internal process you have available to you that would c confirm propriety of actions on the part of elected officials, especially in their interaction with district employees and public professionals.
Absent strong, swift and certain step on your part, it is difficult to imagine how valid decisions can be made in such an environment of distrust.
Likewise, we will assist our constituents in moving swiftly to convene meaningful conversations with their peers so that misunderstandings and mistrust within the community can be alleviated.
Please accept this communication in the spirit in which it is conveyed, one of appreciation and respect for your leadership and your full authority over the difficult decisions you face. We affirm our partnership with you in serving our mutual constituents.
Yes, folks, these are the words of our elected officials, grammatical errors and all. Maybe the computers at the capital don’t have spell and grammar check. I find it amazing that these people don’t find it at all inappropriate to intervene in an internal investigation before it’s been allowed to run its course. If the parties involved have been ordered to remain silent, how could these politicians believe that they have all the information required to make an informed decision? Clearly the issues at Burroughs school predated Stewart’s visit. How ironic that the politicians mention diversity multiple times in their letter, when all they really had to do was look at all the lovely white faces at the rally to figure out that diversity is something the Burroughs Community School lacks.