Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Tuesday July 7th, the Edison Dance Team will be holding a fundraiser at Dairy Queen, 710 Lowry Ave NE, from 4-9pm. Dairy Queen has graciously agreed to donate 20% of their profit to us from 4-9pm. So if you are in the neighborhood stop by and enjoy an ice cream treat while supporting the Edison Dance Team.

Thanks for your support~ The Edison Dance Team


Monday, June 29, 2009

PEN Action: Letter to MPS Board, Superintendent Green, Assoc. Superintendent Fort & Assoc. Superintendent Cassellius. Sent June 29, 2009

On behalf of Pubic Education in Northeast (PEN), we are concerned about the future of our
local schools and the vitality of the Northeast Minneapolis community. As you know, schools play a major role in creating a sense of community. Currently, a growing percentage of Northeast students attend schools or plan to attend schools outside of Northeast. This represents a loss of cohesion to our community. PEN's goal is to promote Northeast schools, and to increase connections between the community and its schools. If we are to keep our community viable and thriving, we believe we must create clear educational pathways that will maintain a sense of continuity and connection throughout our children's school years.

The realization of this goal requires the Minneapolis School Board to stand by their stated intention to offer community schools throughout the city that provide equitable and rigorous programs. We believe that the MPS Board would like every child, regardless of their economic background or where they live in Minneapolis, to have access to a safe, secure, successful school experience. Our Northeast K-8 and middle schools need to offer programs that create a natural pathway from elementary through high school. PEN strives for equity with all Minneapolis Public Schools, including viable resources to fund International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP), College-in-Schools (CIS) and other programming options. Survey data and self-reports indicate that families make school choices based on extracurricular activities as well as academic opportunities, such as arts and athletic programs. Clearly, Edison High School has suffered the loss of many of these opportunities over the years. There needs to be a sustained effort to rebuild these options at Edison.

We have recently learned that there is a proposed plan to bring a contract-alternative school into Edison as a co-location partner—Heritage Academy (http://www.heritagetech.net/). We believe that this could be detrimental to the perception of Edison as a community school. Housing another school on Edison's campus creates an inherent competition between schools. Also, if Heritage Academy grows (which we understand is part of their proposed plan), this would limit Edison’s ability to expand it’s own current and future programming. Before any decision is made regarding co-location partnering, the people of Northeast would appreciate the opportunity to have a voice in how this will affect our school and our community. We believe that there are other options that the District could consider to better utilize space at Edison High School.

Edison could be the temporary home of the Northeast branch of the Hennepin County Public Library while its space is being remodeled. This would open up Edison to the community and allow all to experience Edison as a desirable place to be and, perhaps, help make Edison a school of choice for their children. As you may know, Northeast Minneapolis is the only officially-designated arts district in the City. There are hundreds of artists currently working and living in Northeast, with a good number of artists waiting for more studio space to become available. An arrangement could be negotiated between local artists and Edison to provide more arts opportunities to the students. Please, do not once again make the mistake of placing programs at Edison High School that have little neighborhood support. This has happened in the past and the results have always backfired for the school and the district as a whole!

In summary, schools have a huge impact on the livability of a community. The following are ideas that support keeping our Northeast schools, the schools of choice for our community:

  • Provide pathways from Elementary to Middle School to Edison High School with IB, AP, CIS, Arts and Sports Programs. This is necessary for Edison to survive.
  • Provide equitable programs and support for those programs.
  • Create clear pathways that include Northeast Middle School, Sheridan Elementary, and Marcy Open to assure that more neighborhood kids are attending Edison High School.
  • Provide a marketing plan to attract students to Edison High School. Furthermore, support this marketing plan with extra funding and staff recognizing that Edison has lost ground in attracting students due to inattention to its needs in the past.
  • Provide support for currently successful programs and expand arts, theater and sports programming.

Before any decisions are made regarding Northeast schools, PEN would like to make sure that the Northeast community is informed about the options available and be given a chance to take part in this crucial decision-making. We believe the discussion surrounding our schools should be focused on collaboration and cooperation.

Please contact PEN and notify us of any discussions surrounding our schools in the future. PEN can be contacted via email at: PublicEdNE@gmail.com. Our phone number is 612-789-9596. We also have a website, which can be found at http://publicedne.blogspot.com.

Thank you for your leadership during this difficult time of transition for Minneapolis Public Schools.


PEN Committee Members:

Dean DeGroot, Northeast Middle School/Patrick Henry Parent

Bridget Altmann, Edison Staff

Jenny Arneson, Waite Park Parent

Jenn Bennington, Waite Park Parent

Mike Iacarella, Edison Staff

Vicky Iacarella, NE Community Member

Mandy Larson, Edison/Pillsbury Staff

Tammy Rusnacko, Waite Park/South High Parent


K - 8 Football Clinic at Edison

The first Edison Tommie Football Clinic was a success. Thirty-six K - 8th grade kids attended on a hot afternoon, ready to learn some football skills and have a good time with Edison Football coaches and players. The clinic started with the players leading a stretch and agility run. The kids then got to take a water break just like the Edison players. Some of the kids were too short and Edison players had to lift them at the watering trough.

After the water break, the young athletes moved through six skill stations that focused on the various aspects of football. After the skills work, the kids played flag football games, with three different games taking place at once. The last ten minutes of the clinic concluded with hot dogs and chips for the kids, staff, and parents. Each person attending the clinic received an Edison Football T-Shirt. The clinic was a huge success, and we look forward to doubling our numbers next year.

Mike Minnema
Eidson High School Football Coach


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Edison Site Council Position Open

Edison High School's Site Council is seeking a member of the Northeast community to serve for a one or two year term. The site council consists of five Edison staff members, two parents, two students and one representative from the community at large.

The first council meeting will be on August 11th from 6-8pm in Room 117. The agenda will be to set norms, review the bylaws, elect officers, and discuss roles, responsibilities, committees and communication structures.

Please contact Carla Steinbach, Edison Principal: 668-1300 or Carla.Steinbach@mpls.k12.mn.us


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Northeast Parade a huge success, depsite the heat!

It was a steamy afternoon, but that didn't dampen the spirits of those proudly representing their Northeast schools at the parade on Tuesday, June 23, 2009! I'll let the pictures tell the story:


New Branding Initiative from MPS

The Office of Communications is delighted to announce the start of a new branding and website redesign for the Minneapolis Public Schools. We see this effort to define our distinct identity as an important tool in unifying our whole school system. Each individual school will be given ample opportunity to celebrate its own identity while also aligning with the brand promise of the whole district.

The rebranding of the district will be guided by insights gained in an earlier round of brand discovery and by a final round of branding work under current communications leadership.

As part of this overall program that will improve our communications and marketing strength, we will be redesigning the Minneapolis Public Schools website to make it more current, powerful and appealing; simpler to navigate and more streamlined; and to improve its content and content management system functionality. The new website is scheduled to go live at the beginning of the upcoming school year.

Lisa Ray
Office of Communications
Minneapolis Public Schools


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Park Board Survey and Upper NE Service Area Meeting

The Park Board (MPRB) is conducting a city-wide survey about how it can better
meet the needs of residents. A meeting and forum will be held in each of MPRB's
geographic service areas. The first of these meetings will be for our upper Northeast community, and is this Thursday, June 25th, 6:30pm, in the Windom Park Rec Center (2251 Hayes St NE).


PEN Minutes: 6/15/09

Attendees: Dean DeGroot (NEMS/Henry Parent), Julia Janousek (Marcy Parent), Pam Costain (MPS Board), Tammy Rusnacko (Waite Park/South Parent), Jenny Arneson (Waite Park Parent), Bridget Altmann (Edison Staff/Marcy Parent), Gary Arntsen (Waite Park Community Council), Brenda Cassellius (MPS Asst. Superintendent), Vicky Iacarella (NE Community), Mike Iacarella (Edison Staff), Pamela Verina (Edison Staff), Carla Steinbach (Edison Principal), Padmini Udupa (NEMS Principal), Jamison Rusthoven (Edison Staff), Jenn Bennington (Waite Park Parent)

Changing School Options (CSO):

Dean DeGroot opened the meeting by welcoming Brenda Cassellius, Assoc. Superintendent of MPS (Area B & all Secondary Schools), who was asked to attend the meeting to talk about the current status of the Changing School Options process. Brenda first provided an overview of CSO, emphasizing that the intent of the changes were to provide sustainability, save money, reduce the city's achievement gap by 75%, and raise test scores. The CSO goal is to provide cost savings that will then be reinvested into our classrooms. Due to the MPS budget deficit as well as changes in state funding, there will be layoffs/downsizing, but the district is attempting to keep the community engaged during this painful process. The new timeline will mean that the Board will vote on the revised recommendations in late September, 2009.

Pam Costain, MPS Board member, elaborated on the new timeline. Decisions about the new CSO recommendations will be made in time for the 2010-2011 academic year publicity. Pam assured the group that the NE quadrant of the city was not meant to be touched, but Pillsbury will be demagnetized, and Sheridan will be a magnet but the district will work with the broader NE community to determine the status of that magnet program. The biggest decisions being made are about high schools. Right now there is a commitment on the Board's part to retain all 7 city high schools, and to build up Edison & North. Pam stated that the CSO changes will have less of an impact in NE than in other parts of the city.

Brenda then answered questions about changes at North High School. The "SUMA TEC Prime" program will be rolling out next year, and will require incoming students to submit an essay in order to be "admitted" to the school. North will no longer be a comprehensive community high school, but will become a rigorous, specialty school. Current students at North who are not interested in attending a school of this type will have to go elsewhere. In 2010, students will no longer be assigned to North based on residency. Several PEN members had questions about whether students who are not admitted to the new program at North will then be sent either to Edison, or perhaps sent to Patrick Henry, depending on programming and capacity issues. There was concern about whether this ends up filling Edison with students who are not necessarily choosing to be there, but simply have nowhere else to go.

Pam Costain spoke up about these concerns, emphasizing that it would be best to view the situation not as one MPS school versus another. The district is trying to improve the academic quality at all city high schools. The decision to change the program at North was made in order to keep it open, though it has dwindling attendance and, overall, the smallest high school enrollment. The district does not expect that North will ever reach the numbers of a comprehensive/community school again, so it has a special status as an alternative to closing it. The new configuration enables students from the entire City to attend North High, which is also partnering with Dunwoody Academy.

Dean DeGroot commented that a specialty program at North makes sense, but what is unclear to the NE community is where pathways to Edison exist. For example, 70% of Marcy Open school kids reside in NE, and majority of those kids continue onward to South High—the only Open high school in the District. On the other hand, most of Edison's student population is made up of kids who live in North Minneapolis at this time. Northeast Middle School (NEMS) is the only middle school feeding into Edison. How do we keep Edison viable for NE kids when a lot of them are going to Patrick Henry, St. Anthony or South High School? What can the district do with pathways to keep NE kids in NE? Sheridan (K-8) has 70%+ kids who live in North Minneapolis, and there seems to be no link between Sheridan and Edison at this time. It was understood that the "four core" standardization of the high school curricula throughout the city, as well as the district's decision not to bus students to high schools outside of their neighborhoods would decrease the need for students to opt out of their own neighborhood for primary and secondary education.

In response, Brenda asked the group for suggestions about how to create pathways to Edison. The clear concern among many PEN members was that the district was maintaining the Open magnet program at South High and was still going to bus kids from NE who attend Marcy Open to South, despite its commitment to the standardized high school curriculum it declared with the "four core" idea. This will continue to drain NE/Edison of its teenagers. With Marcy and Sheridan as magnet schools, the only community schools feeding into Edison are Waite Park and Pillsbury (via NE Middle), and currently Waite Park is losing nearly half of its 5th graders to St. Anthony.

Pamela Vertina, of Edison High School, investigated the demographics in NE by zip code and found that we just don't have enough kids in the area to fill Edison. If the district will no longer provide transportation to kids from other areas of the city to Edison, how will it be able to survive?

Dean DeGroot pointed out that new statistics from NE Middle School do show that over half of the kids who have chosen to stay in the city have chosen Edison. This is a new and positive trend - during the two previous years, Patrick Henry has received the majority of 8th graders from NEMS. However, that represents approximately 70 kids entering Edison from this only established pathway. Other pathway connections are necessary!

Julia Janousek, a Marcy Open parent, stated that the open pathway needs to exist for Marcy kids. The way to bring Marcy kids to Edison is through attraction to a vibrant Arts program. In her opinion, many parents at Marcy are not there for the Open program, but are there for other reasons. They will not be committed to sending their children to South if more appealing options become available. If Edison's reputation improves, the families who live in NE will choose it.

Brenda addressed these concerns by saying that the new IB program at Edison will keep interdisciplinary methods available to kids from Marcy who have been educated according to the Open philosophy. There is a new secondary school in Illinois that combines a Montessori and an IB program. The district is looking at that as a possibility for one of the MPS high schools in the future.

Dean suggested that from a cost-savings perspective, with the IB pathway already there from NEMS to Henry, it would make more sense to bolster AP at Edison than divide IB resources between the two high schools (Henry & Edison).

Brenda replied that the idea of the "four core" learning philosophies existing simultaneously at all six comprehensive city secondary schools is beneficial partially due to different learning styles of different students. It is best to have AP, IB, a tech program, & CIS all in the same school. Teacher training overlaps between these methods as well.

Dean questioned how realistic it might be that there would be an equal number of AP classes at all high schools, with all four of these different programs in each school?

Brenda explained that there may not be an equal number of classes, but that all of the schools would be equal in quality of curricular programming. For example, there may be different classes at different schools available, but with technology allowing students to computer stream, attend classes online, and use district-provided "go to" bus passes to get around, all students would have equal access to the same quality learning opportunities.

Jenny Arneson, Waite Park parent, asked if the Middle years IB program (MYP) is really happening at all of the city high schools. Brenda replied that the 9th/10th grade IB training to teachers is happening now. More schools are adding IB & AP state-wide, so MPS is drawing state funding from a smaller pool than in the past. However, federal stimulus money will go toward professional training in these programs.

Brenda shared recent testing results with the group. Evidently, MPS students as a whole made increases (about 6%) in reading and writing and smaller increases in math (about 2%). MPS is outpacing the state-wide testing score increases this year for the first time in a while. This is reason to be proud of the work that has been done so far. It was agreed that marketing was one of the biggest problems we now face as a district and as a neighborhood. The MYP philosophy at NEMS leading to MYP at Edison is a logical pathway. Our current challenge is in changing perceptions about Edison, but investment in MYP is a good idea regardless of whether it changes the school's image. It is good for teaching and learning.

Brenda also shared that the district was considering co-location partners at Edison and NEMS. Currently the contract alternative school, Heritage Academy (http://www.heritagetech.net/) is a likely candidate for using some of the extra space available in NE. Heritage Academy is now sharing space at Folwell. Many of the PEN membership expressed concern about promising space to a program that offered an alternative educational program, especially one that's vision includes significant growth. Will a contract-alternative or charter school sharing space with a comprehensive community school be seen as housing a competing program? Brenda brought up the fact that the New Small Schools office is currently sharing space at the district administrative building, and that the district has been looking at partnering with charter schools. Dunwoody is a charter at North, for example, and they will share athletics, busing, and the teaching staff will learn from each other and share professional development opportunities. Students may even eventually be taking courses at both schools simultaneously.

PEN members were very clear about the need for the NE community to be consulted about co-location options before any decisions were made about how our schools will be sharing space with city-wide contract alternative or charter schools. Because our biggest hurdle right now is changing perceptions about NEMS and Edison, it is essential that that image be considered while these decisions are being made. Brenda agreed that the community would be made aware, and that CSO meetings would be happening during the summer.

Vicky Iacarella offered to draft a letter to the Board and the District about these concerns, spelling out the need for the NE community to be consulted before co-location decisions are made.

Brenda stated that the district's strategy right now is to grow enrollment at Edison through marketing, community activity, raising rigor though the TAP program (IFL model), and "disciplinary literacy teams" at the district level.

The biggest debate at the Board level right now is about the Marcy Open/South pathway, according to Pam Costain. It is an issue that has not been resolved and all of the stakeholders involved feel passionately about it. The way we can attract Marcy students back from South is by building up Edison. Some would argue that Open is such a specialized educational philosophy that it needs to be a unique program, but others feel that the philosophy behind Open education should be and has been put into practice at ALL Minneapolis public schools already.

Brenda assured that, ideally, there will be IB, CIS and AP at all schools, which will mean that there will be pathways to every comprehensive community high school based on attendance boundaries, not specialty programs.

As for marketing strategies for the future, Brenda explained that as of next year, 8th graders will receive a school choice guide, featuring only their community high school. Two weeks later they get a very small packet about all the other secondary schools in the city. There is also a re-branding effort beginning this July. All web-pages will be upgraded to one MPS brand.

Other Business:

The NE School Showcase will be scheduled for sometime during the first three weeks of November.

A follow-up from last month's discussion on athletics occurred. Jenny Arneson reported that she collected names of main sports contacts in NE for the Edison Athletic Director to use in recruiting; he was present and confirmed this was his plan. While Jenny has names from the park department, NE Middle School was unable to provide many names due to vacancies - it is clear that the break-down in communication and athletic rigor is at least in part due to the lack of stability at NEMS in athletics. Padmini Udupa and Carla Steinbach, principals of NEMS & Edison respectfully, reported that they were already aware of this issue and had been developing a plan to help each other in athletics. They will have a report by next month. Dr. Udupa pointed out to Brenda that part of the difficulty for middle school students participating in high school sports is the inconsistencies in start times.

Next meeting: August 17 at a NE Park TBD.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Waite Park PTA would like to thank the Northeast community for all the time, money and products you donated this year to Waite Park Community School. We had a year filled with wonderful events and successful fundraisers, and the community’s involvement was incredibly appreciated. We are fortunate to live in a place that cares for our children and our schools. Numerous businesses and churches have contributed both financially, and with volunteer time (far too many to name here but listed at http://waiteparkpta.blogspot.com); this support has provided our students and families with many enrichment and community-building opportunities.

In addition to the strong support by local businesses, we owe a big thank you to our school neighbors in NE; Northeast Middle School and Edison High School provided stellar students to support our events. For example, the Edison Football team came to our Family Reading Night. Northeast Middle School provided volunteers at our track and field day at the Dome – not a small event! The Edison sport teams and Northeast Middle School hosted several games at our carnival. These volunteers were essential to running our events and also provided wonderful role models to our younger children.

Thank you to the Northeast Community and we look forward to another fantastic year next fall!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I ♥ NE Festival

Check out this LINK to learn more about the I Northeast Festival coming up June 19 - 24.
This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the Northeast Parade (2nd oldest parade in the state), and PEN has provided spaces in the parade for all Northeast schools that want to represent themselves in the community.

I ♥ NE Festival Schedule (to date):

Friday June 19th, 2009
Promotion of the Taste of Northeast Passport Book
Street Dance at the Moose on Monroe

Saturday June 20th, 2009
Family FUN Carnival 10-6pm at Edison Football Field
Hot Rod/Vintage Car Show 11-5pm at the Edison High School Parking Lot FREE
Teen Dance/Battle of the Garage Bands 7-10pm Edison High School Gym $5.00 per person
Pub Crawl

Sunday June 21st, 2009
Pancake Breakfast
Push Cart Races (build your own-details coming soon) at Waite Park 1-4pm
NE Mpls All Royalty Reunion (Past & Present) 1-4pm at St. Charles Catholic Church

Monday June 22nd, 2009
Promotion of the Taste of Northeast Passport Book

Tuesday June 23rd, 2009
80th Anniversary Celebrate Northeast Parade
Fireworks following parade (pending confirmed sponsor)

Wednesday June 24th, 2009
NE Mpls Royalty Ambassador Coronation 7pm at the Ukrainian Event Center

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Agenda: June 15 Meeting (at Northeast Park)

Welcome/Introductions: 5 minutes (All)

Changing School Options—Pathways and Needs for NE Schools: Please join MPS Associate Superintendent, Brenda Cassellius and possibly others to discuss these issues. Jenny & Dean (40-50 minutes)

Specifically, we hope to better understand and discuss:

What pathways currently exist and where are the gaps?

How to attract and retain kids from K-12 in NE?

What attendance boundaries are being considered?

Look at Community Theatre & Sports options: Follow-up (15-20 mns.)

Other Issues: NE Parade, Leadership Changes, NE Schools DVD project & NE School Showcase: Details yet to be discussed: Jenny (20-25 mn)

Announcements: (5 mn)

  • Area A Meetings
  • NE Parade: Tuesday, June 23: please take part!
  • NE School Showcase: Late Fall 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Camps/Classes at Waite Park

Great things are in store for this summer at Waite Park. We are launching a new morning program that will coincide with our great Sports/Arts Program. The morning program is a fee based program that allows your child the opportunity to take one or two classes a week. The classes run either nine to noon or nine to ten thirty and ten thirty to noon. Students have the option to take a three hour class or two one and a half hour classes. They can also just sign up for one class, depending on their schedule and preference. This program runs Monday through Thursday beginning Monday June 22nd through Thursday July, 30th for kids who entered K-8 in fall of 2009.

Each week your child can sign up for a different class. With all these opportunities they won’t be bored! There are lots of classes to choose from. We have sports, animals, cooking, science, craft projects, computer classes, a camping class, horseback riding, a gardening class and many many more! Check out our brochure online at waitepark.mpls.k12.mn.us then click on community education and you will see the morning program and sports arts program. You can register online at www.mplscommunityed.com or call Tony Walker at 612.668.1590 for more info or any questions.

The morning program allows kids to stay right at the school and attend our great Sports/Arts program.

Awesome Science Projects, Cool Art Projects, Swimming, Sports, Computers and of course Field Trips! The kids will also get to participate in a great theater and reading club! This six week program that runs Monday through Friday begins on Monday, June 22nd and ends Thursday, July 30st. This year the program times are 12:30 pm to 4 pm. Any child who has completed grades K-6 can sign up!

This year the field trips are going to be to Como Zoo, Grand Slam, Apple Valley Pool, Science Museum, Memory Lanes Bowling and to Cascade Bay! You can register online again this year at www.mplscommunityed.com or call Tony Walker at 612.668.1590, for more information.


Edison Art on Display in Rice Park

Students at Edison, under the direction of Gabrielle Bliss, Charles Johnson-Nixon and artist in residence Armando Gutierrez G., designed and built a structure entirely from donated, non-perishable food products from the General Mills Foundation. The space shuttle sculpture fit into the Flint Hills International Children's Festival "flights of fancy theme." Students who worked on the sculpture decided that the invention of the space ship was a crucial development of humankind, symbolizing our desire to grow and explore.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Waite Park Community School Takes Over the Metrodome!

On June 1, Waite Park students, staff and many enthusiastic parents held their annual end-of-the-year Field Day at the Metrodome! Waite Park students celebrated a full day of physical education activities, with the help of dozens of family volunteers, as well as a sizable crew of Northeast Middle School students from the AVID Program, who helped their younger peers navigate the 15+ game stations set up on the field. Class pictures were taken in the Twins dugout and the kids were excited to see their school's name on the stadium marquee and electronic scoreboard. Thank you to Waite Park's wonderful Physical Education teacher: Kammie Jackson, for making this memorable event possible!

Spoken Word/Poetry Workshop at Edison

Students in Ms. Knowlen's class at Edison High School had the opportunity to work with nationally recognized Hmong spoken word/hip-hop artist and community activist Tou Saiko Lee on May 18, 20 and 22. Students learned about spoken word and hip-hop as a way to express who they are and where they come from and to communicate their experiences. They put together movement, written lines, sensory details and metaphor to create and perform their own spoken word piece. To read more click on: http://edison.mpls.k12.mn.us/26May2009.html

Tou Saiko was born in 1979 in the Nongkai Refugee Camp in Thailand. He and his parents lived in Syracuse and Providence before coming to the Twin Cities in 1991. All of his other siblings, including his brother Vong who performs alongside Tou Saiko as Knowstalgic in the hip-hop group Delicious Venom, were born in the United States. As director of Creative Development and Outreach at CHAT (Center for Hmong Arts and Talent), a St. Paul non-profit organization that aims to nurture Hmong artists, Tou Saiko organizes the ICE Open Mic series at Metro State University, coordinates a number of after-school community classes and programs, and helps to organize the annual Hmong Arts and Music Festival. He also travels to California once a month to work with Hmong youth in Sacramento, one of the other large Hmong communities in America.