Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It is time for a new school and expectations

Last week there was a community meeting to discuss the future of the Oh Day Aki Charter School.  Discussion at the meeting included the financial and leadership challenges currently facing Oh Day Aki Charter School(formerly Heart of the Earth Survival School).  Currently, the Minneapolis Public School is the charter sponsor and holds the contract with Oh Day Aki Charter School.  In a recent audit conducted by the State of Minnesota,  it was found that not all finances could be accounted for(approx. $160,000) and that other requested information could not be provided.  As a result(among other issues), the Minneapolis Public Schools will not continue to be the charter sponsor or renew its contract with Oh Day Aki Charter School under its current administration and governance.  MPS is, however, willing to explore charter sponsorship and support of an alternative American Indian charter school, but under entirely different leadership and governance.  

Other issues discussed included the poor and possible unhealthy facilities that the school currently occupies and leases from Heart of the Earth, Inc.  In addition, questions regarding financial accountability and use of funds by both parties were raised.

Overall, the situation is not good and does not appear to have a quick and effective resolution. Unfortunately, those with the most to lose are the children and families who desire and deserve a high quality, indigenous-centered education.

Now, we could view this as a terrible problem and attempt to band-aid  it with a temporary fix resulting in more of the same or we could view this as an opportunity to unite a community around a common desire to have a state-of-the-art school and community facility that houses 21st century innovative learning opportunities rooted in language and culture.  We can come up with a short term attempt or a long term solution.  Collectively, we possess the ability and knowledge....but do we possess the desire?  

It is time for a new community school facility--a new school to match a new and revived community expectation of excellence.  The community "expectation  bar" has slipped to a dangerous low. Let us stand together and raise up our own bar and then help each other to cross-over the bar. (I must be watching to many olympic commercials of the high jump and pole vault)  
I challenge the Bush Foundation to help fund a new American Indian school in the urban area...thats nation building.

1 comment:

tonyle said...

Are we brave enough to seek the truth about ourselves? It has been interesting to catch comments here and there regarding what is happening to our school. When you talk about standards, we need to think of this in a couple of ways. One is about justice, if what is alleged is true, someone needs to go to jail and the community needs to demand it. Whether it is 162 pennies, 162 dollars or 162,000 dollars someone needs to spend time behind bars for misusing, stealing money from and for our youth. Yet, how many of these scandals have we had in our community? Next time you go to a community meeting, see how many people you can say was connected in some way to past scandalous behaviors. Typically the white community will not punish an Indian for this type of wrongdoing since the person is only hurting other Indians. If the person was hurting the white community, they would be in jail today. Is justice served entirely by someone going to jail, no not even close. But it does create a "new" policy that if you intentionally harm our children, families and assets you will be punished. On the other hand, if these allegations are wrong we need to hold a community feast to reconcile our actions and seek forgiveness. Why? Basically for acting white and being more than willing to believe in the worst in each other before we believe in the best of each other.

On the standard of fairness, we can no longer state that our children should have a prosperous future. We need to believe, to believe that what are working towards and will create for our children will be a solution from our past and for our future. When was the last time you participated in a discussion in the community and walked away saying I believe in that and will work towards it? When will be that moment we unconditionally support and sacrifice for our beliefs. It is in fairness that we need not only to demand but give ourselves to a cause so great that our legacy is intertwined not in the impoverished destiny of our young today but in the greatness before them if we can begin to truly believe in them. Can we develop the tools and resources that will guarantee success if children and families commit to making education a priority and will sacrifice to make their dreams a reality? I believe we can, a new school is not the answer but it is the beginning. We have become experts in failure to the point we can consult on what not to do. This moment deserves to be bigger than a new school, somehow it needs to be a moment of declaration, a moment that says fairness is not in the opportunity to try again it is in the belief that if live our values our children will live, laugh and become wiser than we are today.