History of Ed Lib MN
The Minnesota Chapter of the Education for Liberation Network began in the summer of 2019 immediately following the Free Minds, Free People Conference in Minneapolis, MN. Ed Lib Minnesota is comprised of the core 2019 FMFP local organizing committees along with a growing network of teachers, youthworkers, teaching aids, educators’ union organizers, academics, policy advocates, parents, and youth-led organizations. The goal of Ed Lib MN is to be a political force in the state of MN to contend with the status quo of colonial education that prioritizes Eurocentric curricula, predominantly white educators and administrators, and a persistent attack on the power of communities to be self-determined.
Free Minds Free People 2019
The Political Landscape of Education in Minnesota
“Mnísóta”, is a Dakota word, which means “clear blue water”, or “Mnißota”, which means “cloudy water”. The state of Minnesota occupies Dakota and Anishanabe land. It has been and become home to many Indigenous peoples. Minnesota exists on sacred and stolen Dakota land, where communities continue to fight each day for survival. Indigenous justice and land rights are a core component of the educational struggle that confronts us.
Like other states in the US, Minnesota faces the consequences of the systematic dispossession of humanizing, quality education from our youth and communities. Our local struggles for Indigenous sovereignty, ethnic studies, equitable funding for education, recruiting diverse teachers, eliminating police from schools, culturally sustaining curriculum, and schools that deserve our youth mirror that of many other places across the nation. Yet, Minnesota is unique in terms of our demographic make-up, and potential for alignment across multiple municipalities. The state is home to large populations of immigrant and refugee communities from East and West Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia along with Indigenous communities and African Americans. Each of these communities have youth navigating traditional public and charter schools. Consequently, there is a strong network of youth organizers and leaders across the state.
Education for Liberation Minnesota is creating a learning community for BIPOC teachers about Ethnic Studies. The learning community will be comprised of teachers, youth, community-based organizations and higher education faculty who focus on Ethnic Studies. Through a series of workshops, a summer camp, and a statewide conference, we will provide a rigorous framework for BIPOC educators to explore their own racial, ethnic, and cultural identities and to connect with others within and across racial and ethnic groups. We will also support them in developing culturally responsive and affirming practices in their classrooms in schools. Through this work, Education for Liberation Minnesota aims to equip teachers with tools and strategies to push for changes in their administration, classrooms, and school to make them more affirming spaces for all students and teachers.
Schools without police: Our vision for liberatory education in Minneapolis and beyond
The Education for Liberation Network, Minnesota Chapter, stands in solidarity with the youth, families, teachers, and community members who organized to push the MPS School Board to vote to end the district’s relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department. We specifically want to lift up the Black youth who led this effort despite being constantly targeted by police in schools. The vote was a testament to the will of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) youth in organizations like Black Liberation Project, Youth Political Action Coalition (YPAC), Young Muslim Collective, and YoUthROC, among others, who strive, each day, to implore the district to live up to its rhetoric of equity and to truly serve the children of Minneapolis by providing an education they deserve. Ed Lib Minnesota recognizes that the termination of the racist MPD is just one stretch of a long road to justice that will take courage, imagination, humility, and will among the district’s leadership and its communities.
Simply removing police from MPS, alone, will not ensure the safety and well-being of Minneapolis’s BIPOC youth and families. The path forward must take into account the educational paradigm that allowed for police to have a role in schools in the first place. MPS must question the nature of educational structures that seek to justify notions of meritocracy, standardization, ability, and competition. Ending the contract with MPD should not be seen as a way to save money. The money needs to be reinvested in programs that nurture BIPOC youth. MPS must take bold steps to center trauma-informed practices and ethnic studies, and address racial disproportionality between teacher and student demographics in order to create an ethic of care across the district. The district must take a reparational stance to address the decades of racial animus faced by generations of youth of color, including making substantial financial investments in historically underfunded neighborhoods and funneling the most effective educators to the students with the most need. In addition to the elimination of police in schools, the district must terminate teachers who consistently remove youth of color from classes, and administrators who ignore the data showing the evidence of racist practices occurring each day.
The district must fundamentally change its curriculum across all grade levels to center the histories, cultural practices, knowledge, and skills of its diverse constituency. No longer is it acceptable for students to graduate without a deep and profound understanding of Indigenous, Pan-African, Pan-Asian, and Pan-American studies. No longer can multilingual youth be treated as though they are deficient against a monolingual English standard. No longer can racialized disparities in discipline continue to push students out of schools. Youth who consciously or unconsciously resist racist educational contexts are not behavioral problems. They are the barometers who measure the toxic atmosphere of a district with a deep history of anti-black and white supremacist logics.
Ed Lib Minnesota stands with the people of Minneapolis, and other communities, to demand that the cops who are being kicked out of the schools be replaced with BIPOC counselors and educators, rich and vibrant ethnic studies curricula, transformative justice practices, and translingual classrooms. Our organization would like to be a resource to help MPS transition toward this vision. Every child deserves to be the subject of their own educational journey, and not the object of an imaginary white norm. Police in schools are just one piece of a much larger white supremacist puzzle that must be taken apart and exposed for the lie it is.
The Education for Liberation Network, MN Chapter