Diversify Minnetonka Public Schools
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Minnetonka has a long history of brushing "controversial" topics under the rug or only instating reactionary reforms after something has happened. We have seen this with the Sweethearts proposal scandal when we brought in a speaker to talk about anti-semitism AFTER this event already happened. As a part of the curriculum, Minnetonka has almost little to none diversity where we learn about racism in an unbiased and unrevised way. The only true glimpses we get of the reality that POC, our fellow students, go through are sheltered and shallow snapshots of the history of POC in America and how they affected the white narrative in history classes. We hardly have any POC staff. How can students feel safe and accepted in a space where they aren't represented? After counting, by hand, all the staff listed in our 2018-2019 yearbook, 14 out of 328 staff members were POC. And most of them weren't even teachers. Teachers have power: insensitive remarks on race can seriously affect a student.
Teachers at Minnetonka receive NO anti-racism training, despite many years of teachers requesting the District for it. They have had speakers talk about diversity, but no follow up for how it could be incorporated into their teaching. The District always limits what our "Equity Team" at school can do. This is a clear example that shows that the problem lies at the head of the District.
Another issue is that current events are never mentioned or explained in-depth for fear of seeming "too controversial". During previous Black-history months, Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Months, and other important dates, we have never learned anything about the racism or systemic injustice of these minority groups, leaving it all up to the individual clubs (Women of Color Club or Asian Student Union), to organize events that highlight these important issues. It shouldn't be the job of students to educate their fellow classmates. It should be a responsibility of the school, a responsibility that is being ignored. Especially now, regarding the BLM movement and the murder of George Floyd, it's important to share the history behind these current events and the systemic violence that continues them. Students must stop being sheltered from the diverse reality of society.
Although it's unrealistic to assume we'll create a change this big overnight, it's important to note that we want a change. Instead of vague responses to emails, we want regularly scheduled workshops or assemblies with guest speakers that address the issues that our classmates will face when they graduate. There is SO much more that we, as a school, can do. Making change in the curriculum is left to the state of Minnesota, but there are still things we can do as a school to make it a safer space. Here are some ideas from ACTUAL Minnetonka students:
"not tokenizing (the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to be inclusive to members of minority groups, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of racial or sexual equality within a workforce.)" "Teaching about actual colonial history" "Not celebrating Columbus Day" "Not limiting assemblies regarding black issues around slavery or the civil rights movement" "better education on race and diversity for STAFF and students" "More POC in positions of power"
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