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Back to School: Supporting our K12 educators in advancing racial equity

How we can lift up and support our K12 teachers this year—and our students of color and Indigenous students

This school year, educators are facing new and daunting challenges. Minnesota is grappling with a significant shortage of both teachers and classroom aides, placing added strain on educators who are tasked with accomplishing more with fewer resources.

In addition, the federal government has cautioned Minnesota against relaxing the requirements for special education teachers in response to the growing teacher shortage. They assert that the revised Minnesota statute and administrative rules do not align with federal law, which mandates that special education teachers must be adequately prepared and trained. Consequently, our special education teachers and students are grappling with additional challenges this year.

Undoubtedly, educators are experiencing a sense of overwhelm and a lack of preparedness as they embark on this academic year. Along with the heightened expectations placed on teachers due to the shortage, students are returning to school with unique needs and aspirations that many school districts are ill-prepared to address or support. 

Our educators —and our students, especially our students of color and Indigenous students—deserve more. 

We hope that, as educators and school leaders, you look to MnEEP as a critical resource for supporting you in your capacity and building the knowledge, skill, and will to advance education equity in Minnesota. 

Our educators need state support in advancing racial equity in education 

Today, students who are people of color and Indigenous students (POCI) comprise more than 35 percent of the K-12 student population. Looking ahead to 2030, it’s important to note that students of color and Indigenous students will constitute the largest student population. 

However, districts across the state are not mandated to devise plans for promoting racial equity, nor are they required to support or train educators in ways that acknowledge Minnesota’s diverse communities in curriculum, school culture, and classroom environments.

This underscores the urgent need to provide teachers with the essential support necessary to create education spaces that are not only racially just but also culturally validating—spaces that students undeniably deserve.

Amidst increasing challenges for educators, Minnesota policymakers must act decisively to prioritize racial equity in education. This requires making crucial investments in training, supporting educators and districts in utilizing a race equity lens, and implementing comprehensive race equity plans in districts across Minnesota.

What educators can do right now 

At MnEEP, we recognize the invaluable efforts of educators throughout Minnesota who tirelessly work to establish safe, affirming, and racially just educational environments that celebrate and elevate the unique experiences, cultures, abilities, and humanity of each student.

In the face of heightened challenges and potential resistance from district leaders or school boards, MnEEP is committed to offering you the essential tools, resources, and knowledge required to persist in constructing racially equitable and empowering educational spaces. 

Together, we can drive progress in advancing racial equity within your school and district. 

Here are MnEEP tools and resources for building racial justice in your classrooms and schools:

1. Learn about successful models for advancing race equity in the MnEEP State of Students of Color and Indigenous Students Executive Summary

The report presents five crucial case studies utilizing the CLEAR Solutions Framework to illustrate the efficacy of prioritizing Culturally Validating Pedagogy and Leadership (CVP/L) in providing educational experiences for POCI students. It introduces a solution-oriented research approach that combines various methods to enhance outcomes for POCI students and promote racial equity by making the needs and objectives of POCI students central to the educational system, with CVP/L as its cornerstone.

We hope you find it useful as you work to center positive outcomes for POCI students. 

2. Develop stronger skills for teaching through the MnEEP Race Equity Training Center.

The MnEEP Race Equity Training Center is guided by prominent race equity thought leaders and experts in K-12 education, higher education, public policy, and research.

We collaborate with K12 districts, schools, nonprofit organizations, and leaders and faculty in higher education who are dedicated to tackling systemic inequities and promoting racial equity throughout Minnesota. 

Our tailored training programs provide education leaders and advocates with the essential analysis, framing, tools, and insights required to establish and sustain racially equitable systems, ensuring that every student has the opportunity to excel.

Let us know how we can support you and your school and district. 

3. Learn more on how you can build race equity practices in your classrooms that empower students—and you.

What does it mean to build, shape, and be accountable to a race equity framework in your school and classroom? Collaborating closely with the community to establish an Equity Planning Process and Framework is imperative for every educational institution in Minnesota.

MnEEP’s Education Equity Action Planning Process Toolkit for school communities is a crucial instrument for promoting racial equity and the pursuit of excellence in education.

This community-centric process aids school leaders in fostering district-wide commitment for advancing racial equity plans and leading systemic changes that foster positive outcomes for Minnesota’s POCI students.

4. Join us as part of our Culturally Validating Pedagogy and Leadership Institute  

Our newly launched Culturally Validating Pedagogy and Leadership Institute empowers school leaders and educators to advance race equity. Our mission is to foster the development of capacity, conviction, and resolute commitment to establish racially just educational environments.

We offer comprehensive support to educational institutions, guiding them in creating top-tier, culturally validating pedagogical approaches and leadership practices that contribute to realizing racially just education systems.

5. Become a MnEEP member 

You can start your membership at the Race Equity Advocate level for just $50 per year.

By becoming a member of MnEEP, you’ll have invaluable opportunities for deeper connections with experts, leaders, and advocates dedicated to racial equity. Membership also grants you access to numerous MnEEP events, updates, toolkits, and resources geared toward advancing racial justice in your school and classroom.

At MnEEP, we understand the pivotal role relationships play in our mission. We recognize that we cannot achieve our goals without your commitment and active participation. 

Together, we must forge a multiracial movement, uniting students, parents, educators, district leaders, higher education leaders, and community members, all working collectively to advance racial justice and enhance educational excellence for Minnesota’s POCI students.

Join us today!

Carlos Mariani Rosa Executive Director
Carlos Mariani Rosa

Carlos Mariani Rosa is a distinguished leader in the nonprofit and public sector. Under his tenure, Minnesota Education Equity Partnership has increasingly strengthened its voice as a statewide authority on students of color in Minnesota.

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