TruthToTell Monday, Feb 10- 9AM: MINNEAPOLIS SCHOOLS: Plenty of Planning. Results? - KFAI FM 90.3/106.7; Streaming @


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Monday, February 10, 2014







Graphic Courtesy of Twin Cities Daily Planet

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Call and join this conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post on TruthToTell’s Facebook page.



What sort of civilized democratic society formed along a set of basic rights and principles maintains such wide disparities between its treatment of one demographic set of citizens (Whites/Caucasians) versus all the others (People of Color and those in poverty and homelessness) whose contributions should be as important as anyone’s.

Urban America has so long been plagued with glaring disparities in education, nutrition, healthcare, and employment opportunities, not to mention prison pipelines and treatment by members of law enforcement and corrections, that one would think some measure of shame would fall on the consciences of those who claim to be living and behaving faithfully under this nation’s Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Simply not so.  Nearly 250 years after our original founding premise that “all ‘men’ are created equal” in the eyes of the state and their maker, the enduring disparities have not only not been washed away by law or conscience, they have recently intensified, as persistently chronicled in studies from a variety of sources – including the University Law School’s Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity(Oct, 2013) – originally The Institute on Law and Poverty – directed by Prof. Myron Orfield; the Minnesota Department of Health’s recent report on structural racism and health disparities and Prof. Michelle Alexander’s indictment of the law enforcement and correction system’s treatment of men of color – The New Jim Crow.

Still, the institutions serving our diverse urban cores keep setting goals and objectives designed to rid us of the chronic gaps in providing safe and encouraging spaces and participatory opportunities in the mainstream of this otherwise most affluent culture. The questions must be asked – when are words and plans simply not enough to close the widening achievement gaps in our P-12 education settings?

The words sound as committed as ever, but repeated five-year strategic plans and similar documents have thus far been toothless in actually closing those gaps. Not that the schools themselves are completely responsible for either the gaps or closing them. This is a community-wide, Metro-wide and citywide problem of the first water. Lying underneath all of these issues is the aforementioned structural racism that drives, often too subtly to be identified and addressed in truly effective and accountable ways. In fact nearly 70% of all enrolled students are of color in Minneapolis (as they are in so many cities). And, still, segregation by geography, class and income persist.

Now, the Minneapolis Schools have concluded one 2007 Strategic Plan, issued a 5-year Enrollment Plan (in the face of declining enrollment, despite population growth) and a preparing for the construct of a new, 5-year Strategic Plan. These are all probably necessary, but does the public really get it? Can the District possibly meet its ambitious goals and implement its objectives – as they adjust themselves each year – to successfully create an educational climate full of achievement and opportunity for all students, let alone the larger goals of college attainment in communities of color?

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI query senior Minneapolis Schools officials as to the successful and not-so-successful outcomes at the end of one strategic plan and moving into another while giving action to its enrollment plan approved in December.


BERNADEIA JOHNSON – Superintendent, Minneapolis Schools (Independent District #1)




KIM ELLISON – Member, Minneapolis Board of Education – At-large; Clerk of School Board

REBECCA GAGNON -  Member, Minneapolis Board of Education – At-large; Board Treasurer



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Monday, February 3, 2014


"Americans overwhelmingly agree, nobody who's working full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty…and that is why I firmly believe it is time to give America a raise,” This was the proclamation of President Obama in his recent 2014 State of the Union address. The President even gave some credit to higher wage renegades at the St. Paul-based chain Punch Pizza (though he caught some flack for saying they were based out of Minneapolis) for voluntarily raising their starting wage to $10 an hour because it was the right thing to do for employee morale. But the president’s comments on Tuesday night weren’t the first we’ve heard about raising the minimum wage in America.

The debate over whether or not raising the minimum wage will help or hurt already struggling low-wage Americans has been raging on for decades, particularly in the wake of the great recession.

Supporters of a raise tout that raising the minimum wage to a living wage will give people more money to spend, which in turn would boost spending and jumpstart the economy. Several conservative business people are coming round to this fact.

Dissenters, however, worry that a forced wage increase will present too much of a burden on small businesses, thus forcing them to cut jobs or go out of business all together. Worse still, is the concern that increased wages will lead to consumer price inflation that will nullify any progress supporters of a wage increase hope to gain.

The current state minimum wage in Minnesota is $6.15 an hour, which seemed generous when the adjustment was made in 2006, but now all of Minnesota’s neighboring states have raised their minimum to match the new federal minimum of $7.25 and Minnesota has yet to join the club. Many argue that there is little need to do so because most businesses are beholden to the federal minimum anyway, but new pending legislation in the state House and Senate, are proposing wage increases somewhere between $7.75 and $9.50 per hour. Some, including Governor Dayton, would say that this still isn’t high enough, considering that the Living Wage Calculator (by Poverty in America), calculates the living wage for a single person with no children in Hennepin County at $9.69 per hour.

Who has it right? Can anyone really know for sure until these changes go into effect? Can a wage increase in absence of any other corporate regulation at the federal level to reign in greedy profit margins really do more good than harm? TruthToTell’s Andy Driscoll and Michelle Alimoradi ask these questions and more of our guests this Monday.


SEN. JOHN MARTY - (DFL- 66), Chair, MN Senate Environment and Energy Committee

REP. JIM ABELER -  (R-35A), Candidate for US Senate in 2014




REP. RYAN WINKLER - (DFL-46A); Co-Author, HF 1980 calling for a Constitutional amendment requiring inflation-adjusted minimum wages starting Jan. 1, 2015


REP. JOHN LESCH - (DFL-66B-St. Paul)



JESSICA ENGLISH -  Organizer, Take Action Minnesota;  Single mom and former retail worker


SCOTT COY KENDALL, Now a Robbinsdale Dominos Pizza employee, after being laid off in the recession.