Author Archives: Eric

Speak Up for Crosswinds Today!

It’s time for all Crosswinds advocates to really get to know some legislators and make sure that they never forget us! Remember to be nice, respectful, but clear in asking what you want. Being angry or confrontational does not help us.

Contact the members of the education conference committee to ask that the Perpich and Crosswinds language be pulled out of the education omnibus bills and considered in a working group next week instead. Also ask that the Senate language for Perpich be used instead of the House language. The Senate version gives Perpich time to turn things around rather than simply eliminating the agency.

Then send the same message to your own legislators asking them to contact their colleagues on the conference committee.

We recommend advocating for both Crosswinds and Perpich because their fates are closely tied, no action is likely on Crosswinds without action on Perpich.

Please emphasize that to be fair to Crosswinds families and staff Crosswinds needs to be conveyed to another entity that will continue its program during this legislative session. Point out that delaying conveyance till next year will deeply damage the school and encourage families and staff to flee. To date, only Saint Paul Public Schools has put forward a proposal to continue the program at Crosswinds. There is also a proposal from District 833 (South Washington County), but it is for an entirely different program than what is currently at Crosswinds and, in particular, makes no mention of racial integration as part of its continuing mission.

Be sure to include your personal story about how Crosswinds has impacted your family.

Thank you all for your effort and love for Crosswinds!

Crosswinds and Perpich to House Education Finance, 3/15

The next stop for the bill to shut down Perpich and (possibly) convey Crosswinds (HF1825 and clone HF1826) is at the House Education Finance committee this Wednesday, 3/15, at 1pm. Please make a call to your own representative and also consider quick calls to bill sponsors Jenifer Loon and Sondra Erickson. Let them know you support Crosswinds and would like to see it conveyed to the Saint Paul Public Schools this year. If you care about arts education in Minnesota, then also let them know you would like to see Perpich get a chance under new leadership rather than being shut down as this bill suggests.

Please keep in mind that not all Representatives and Senators will be directly dealing with this particular bill at this time, but may have influence in speaking with others. If you have time to look to see if your legislator is on an Education committee or Government Operations committee, these folks will be dealing with this more closely. The more you can make it personal, the better. Like “I noticed you are on Education K-12 committee and I am highly concerned about the bill to close Perpich” or “I noticed that you are not on any education committees but I am highly concerned about the bill to close Perpich and hope you could possibly discuss this with a colleague on an education committee.”

Here are some ideas on what you might say. Explain why Arts Education is important to you. Choose from the topics below, but put them in your own words. Focus on what makes sense to you and keep it short. Ask them to please Convey Crosswinds to the Saint Paul Public School and to keep Perpich Center for Arts Education open for all of Minnesota students and teachers. Include your name and mailing address, and a phone number (though they will not likely call you back).

  • Drawing out a decision on Crosswinds conveyance will put two schools at risk: Crosswinds School and Woodbury Leadership Academy. Please amend this bill to allow Crosswinds conveyance to the Saint Paul Public Schools this year.
  • While I support conveying Crosswinds, I also want to see the Perpich Center for Arts Education serving all Minnesotans.
  • The decline of Perpich services the past few years has been due to mismanagement. Teachers want and need Perpich as a resource and training service for arts education in their classrooms and schools.
  • Perpich has new leadership and needs to be given a chance to turn the agency around.
  • Perpich Arts High School provides a unique Arts education which is available to students across Minnesota. This type of Arts focused education is not otherwise available in many areas of the state.
  • Perpich Outreach is a resource for all arts specialist teachers in the state. While we have many opportunities in the metro area, much of Greater Minnesota does not have these resources and relies heavily on Perpich Outreach for assistance.
  • The Perpich Library is a valuable resource for teachers and educators around the state to check out and use. Moving these materials to the State Library Services Division of the Department of Education will not allow proper access for teachers and educators.

HF1825 Seeks to convey Crosswinds in 2018

Yesterday the House Education Innovation Policy committee held a hearing on HF1825, a bill sponsored by Representatives Jennifer Loon (48B, Eden Prarie) and Sondra Erickson (15A, Princeton) to abolish the Perpich Center for Art Education and convey Perpich and Crosswinds properties to other parties. By a 9 to 6 party line vote the committee approved the bill and sent it on to the House Education Finance committee.

Saint Paul Schools interim superintendent John Thein was present and reiterated Saint Paul’s interest in taking over the Crosswinds school. He again promised to keep the program, staff, and families of Crosswinds intact, and spoke of how well Crosswind’s mission was suited for Saint Paul’s diverse student body. Thein also noted that the year-round calendar of Crosswinds was a perfect fit for the year-round program Saint Paul already manages at Crossroads. The Crossroads K-5 would be a perfect feeder to the Crosswinds 6-10, and Saint Paul’s objective would be to grow Crosswinds to a school for grades 6-12 gradually.

One issue to note is timing. The bill does not seek conveyance of Crosswinds to another party until January 2018. This is an incredibly awkward timing for all involved. For Perpich, it leaves a drain on their budget present for another full year. For Saint Paul, it would require a temporary management agreement with Perpich for the 2017-2018 school year. For families and faculty of Crosswinds, this would let uncertainty about the final outcome fester and scare people away from the school. Both Saint Paul Public Schools and the Perpich Board have asked the legislature to approve a conveyance in June 2017 instead, so that a smooth transition could be promoted.

Another potential stumbling block may be interest from District 833 (South Washington County Schools). Although the district has made no proposal for taking over Crosswinds this year, and did not appear at the public hearing the Perpich Board held at Crosswinds last month, there have been rumors that they remain interested in the property. You may recall that in 2013 the District 833 proposal was simply to use the building for their own purposes, discarding the program, staff, and students of Crosswinds.

Representative JoAnn Ward (53A, Woodbury), in whose district Crosswinds sits, spoke up during the hearing for both Perpich and Crosswinds. She hopes to put forward a bill this month that would seek the earlier conveyance of Crosswinds to the Saint Paul Public Schools.

Saint Paul Public Schools may take over Crosswinds

At a public meeting held by the Perpich Center for Arts Education at the Crosswinds School this week, a draft proposal was shared that suggested the Saint Paul Public Schools may take over the Crosswinds School.

The draft closely resembled the terms under which the Roseville Schools took over Harambee in 2014. Under the draft proposal, transportation funding for students currently at Crosswinds would be “grand-mothered” in, but new students from outside the Saint Paul district would have to provide their own transportation as open enrollment students.

MPR: St. Paul could assume control of Crosswinds

Solvejg Wastvedt reports for MPR that St. Paul has proposed taking over Crosswinds. In “St. Paul district could assume control of Crosswinds school” she reports:

The plan would add an additional grade each year starting in 2018, eventually resulting in a 6-12 school. The proposal envisions maintaining current staff, although it does not commit to keeping every position.

The article also states that St. Paul’s is the only proposal the Perpich board has received for Crosswinds.

Public Hearing on Crosswinds, 2/23

The Crosswinds Task Force of the Perpich Board of Directors will hold a public hearing at 7pm Thursday, 23 February, at Crosswinds Arts & Science School, 600 Weir Dr., Woodbury.

The hearing is open to the public and is for the purpose of taking public comment on future alternatives for the operation of the school.

Crosswinds is a public integration magnet serving St. Paul and the east suburbs with a focus on arts and environmental science. It was created in 1997 by the East Metro Integration District (EMID), now known as Equity Alliance MN. After EMID announced plans to possibly close the school, Perpich Center offered to take over its management and the state legislature conveyed the school to Perpich in 2014.

Susan Mau Larson voted chair of the Perpich Board

At its meeting yesterday, the Board of the Perpich Center for Arts Education voted for Susan Mau Larson to take over as chair. Susan, a former Crosswinds parent and organizer of EMID Families, will serve out the remainder of the term vacated by former board chair Pierce McNally last month. Perpich is in the midst of both a financial and a program audit by the legislative auditor, so Susan has her work cut out for her.

Audio of the full board meeting is available below.

 

After adopting the concept agenda, the board considered nominations for Board Chair. Susan Mau Larson was nominated by the Nominations Committee and acting chair Ben Vader Kooi was nominated by Julie Workman. The vote was 6-4 for Susan.

Susan reported on the East Metro Integration District (now referred to as Equity Alliance Minnesota) and invited other board members to join her at meetings there.

Luayn Ruch-Hammond reported on the work of the task force that grew from the Crosswinds visit earlier this summer. That group has had an interview with director Sue Mackert, but was not ready to make major recommendations. However, the task force was asking for work to start in building a more robust presence for the board on the Perpich web site. There was a lot of hand-wringing over the request that email addresses for board members be added to the site and the impact of open meeting law on the use of email to communicate amongst the board and with constituents of the board.

Ben Vander Kooi reviewed various legal liability issues with the board, sharing a Handbook of Legal Issues and describing the insurance coverage extended to board members.

Ben also described the expected timeline of the Legislative Auditor’s work. The auditor expects to share financial audit results in November and program audit results in January. The director and board chair will likely see a non-public draft of the program audit in December, but public release will await the meeting of the legislative committee to whom the report is addressed.

Sue gave updates on both the Perpich Arts High School and Crosswinds.

The board discussed their budget review plans with an eye toward being able to speak on behalf of the agency at legislative hearings in the coming year.

The board added a meeting on Thursday, 15 December 2016.

[Not mentioned at the meeting, but presumably the next regular meeting of the board is on Thursday, 10 November 2016.]

Perpich community forum

Susan Larson writes…

It has been a long time since we connected as a group. I miss all of you and our time together working to save our schools.

I am reaching out to you now because our schools once again need help and I am hoping you can assist. As you know there have been a great deal of public concerns raised about the Perpich Center for Arts. It has reached a point where I sincerely feel the whole agency is at risk of survival. This would mean not only losing Crosswinds, but also losing the Arts High. As a Perpich Board member I am trying to understand what is happening and to rectify the situation. I humbly apologize for any action or inaction on my part which has contributed to the situation. I am truly sorry for any pain this has caused any of you and hope that we can build upon our past relationships to come together and find a path forward.

Thursday evening the Perpich Board will be hosting a community forum. Your presence and voices are welcome and needed. I hope you can be there and encourage you to invite anyone else you feel may be interested and available. Below is the announcement that was on the Perpich website.

Thank you.

Susan

Perpich community forum

The Perpich Board of Directors will host a community forum 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 9, at Crosswinds Arts and Science School, 600 Weir Drive, Woodbury.

The Perpich Board iinvites anyone interested to attend. The goal of this forum is for board members to hear more about everyone’s experience with the Perpich Center, the arts high and Crosswinds. We want to know what is working well, learn about any challenges, and gather ideas and opportunities for the future.

Date: Thursday, June 9, 2016
Location: Crosswinds Arts and Science School, 600 Weir Drive, Woodbury
Time: 6:00-8:30 p.m.

The mission of the Perpich Center is to provide all Minnesota students the opportunity to develop and integrate their artistic and academic abilities to their highest potential.
Concerns about the Perpich Center have been raised in the media and in the state legislature. We want to engage in a dialogue about how we can work together to overcome these concerns and build a strong future for all students. Through open communication and collaboration we believe we can achieve and sustain our mission.

Please attend and share your voice!

Attorneys are asking for a metro-wide integration plan

Anthony Lonetree reports in the Star Tribune that “Lawsuit claims Minnesota fails to educate poor, minority students in Minneapolis, St. Paul.”

According to the complaint, as more families of color have moved to the suburbs, particularly inner-ring suburbs, the state has permitted the drawing of boundaries that “deliberately increased segregation.” Hopkins, Bloomington, Burnsville, Osseo and North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale were among the examples.

Civil rights lawyer Dan Shulman, who shepherded the NAACP suit that birthed EMID in the 1990s, filed this suit with his son, John Shulman.

“We are going to ensure that the Twin Cities become a national leader in educating children in the Twin Cities, and not as we are today, an absolute failure nationally — with one of the largest so-called learning gaps in the country,” John Shulman said at a news conference Thursday.

The Imperative for 21st Century Learning, 10/2

Join Parents United to hear the latest on learning, relationships and stories. The last decade in education policy has increased demand for student and teacher accountability based largely on one metric: test scores. This allowed us to shine a light on gaps in achievement, but it has not proven an effective tool at closing those gaps. Parents United welcomes the insights of David O’Fallon, CEO, and Shandi DiCosimo, Program Officer of the Minnesota Humanities Center and Kent Pekel, Director of the Search Institute. Their research shows developmental relationships and cultural stories have the power to fundamentally change how students learn by bringing connection & context to the lives of students often defined by stereotypes.

This Parents United Parent Leadership Summit will be on Friday, October 2, from 11am to 2pm (with opportunities for networking starting at 10am) at the TIES Event Center (1640 Larpenteur Ave. W., Saint Paul, MN). The $35 registration fee includes lunch, but scholarships are also available if that fee is hard for you to cover. Please register today!