Our Black News – Critical Thinking for the Advancement of Colored People
Tuesday January 26th 2021

Interesting Sites



The Last Question Interview: “My name is Jim Vue” the incumbent – Saint Paul School Board 2020

By Don Allen, Host – “The Last Question” on ReStream

His name is Jim Vue.

Mr. Jim Vue – Director, SPPS Board (photo: SPPS, Fair Use, 2020)

He was appointed by the Saint Paul School Board to fill the vacant seat due to the death of Marny Xiong. Mr. Vue says, “To ensure success of SPPS, I am running for election in November to carry out the remainder of Marny’s term.”

My wife and I have been involved in district governance for 10 years. We are proud parents to  five children. I acknowledge the role of a school board director is to lead. Vue says he connects his interests and experience to the role by understanding what’s at stake – and what’s at stake is the health and well-being of many K-12 scholars in SPPS.  Moreover, Jim is concerned his understanding on how his interests intersect with stakeholders in SPPS such as students, parents, teachers, staff and administrators. Read more about Mr. Vue here.

Join me your host, Don Allen for an in-depth interview with St. Paul School Board incumbent Jim Vue on Thursday, October 22nd at 8:30pm (CST). This show will be broadcast on YouTube, Facebook, and many other platforms. To see it in real time, click here.

The Last Question with Don Allen: One-on-one interview with St. Paul School Board candidate James Farnsworth, LIVE!

James Farnsworth (he/him/his) is a committed advocate for the students, families, teachers, and staff of Saint Paul.

Join me tonight, Friday – October 16th at 7:30pm for an interview with Saint Paul Public School Board candidate James Farnsworth on “The Last Question with Don Allen, M. A. Ed./MAT” LIVE via ReStream™.

This program will be broadcast live on Facebook, YouTube, and BlogTalkRadio (audio only). The public pages on Facebook that will carry the interview are as follows:

Black Politics in Minnesota

Our Black News

Minnesota Institute for Research and Public Policy

Race, Color & Status


About James Farnsworth

James Farnsworth (he/him/his) is a committed advocate for the students, families, teachers, and staff of Saint Paul. As a proud graduate of SPPS and the son of two longtime public school teachers, James has a deep knowledge of the challenges facing the district and a proven track record of forming diverse coalitions to tackle complex issues. He’s actively attended school board meetings over the years which has given him an incisive perspective and keen insight into process and governance of a large and complex institution with an over $600 million annual budget. He knows what it takes to be a responsible steward and strong champion of Saint Paul Public Schools.

Read more here (Issues).

What Is Fear? Rhetoric and the News

By Don Allen – Senior Editorial Columnist

In the classical system of rhetoric, there are three principals: public speech; the legal or forensic speech, and the political of deliberative speech (p.3). Using these principals, I respond in my own words to rhetoric.

Recent Examples on the Web

When allowed to dominate rhetoric and drive policy, fear can have immediate consequences.

— Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, “Why do Americans think more immigration means more crime? (audio),” 17 Aug. 2020

Bush, who served as president from 2001-2009, has often praised the contributions of immigrants, a notable contrast to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies.

— Hillel Italie, chicagotribune.com, “Former President Bush pays tribute to immigrants in new book,” 6 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘rhetoric.’ When we talk about rhetoric and the news, we speak of a politically charged arena of ‘style’ that have no objectivity whatsoever. Just recently in Minneapolis, MN. A young man who earlier in the day had shot and killed a man was being closed in on by the police. The man, homeless – a resident of the local Salvation Army put a loaded weapon (9mm) in his mouth and blew the back of his head and spine. The police supplied the local media with the unedited video (I’ve seen it several times, it’s sickening), and the media sat on it for more than 30-minutes, just enough time. As a long-time media activist, I felt local media wanted to see what would happen using speculation about the youth that committed suicide might have possibly been killed by a police officer. It seems like there’s a challenge when it comes to the News and how news rhetoric especially in the last 90-days with the killing of George Floyd (locally) and others shapes the narrative about these killings. First off, if the person killed is Black, the focus goes to if he/she has a criminal record as if that it’s okay to shot and kill someone with a criminal record; rhetoric in the news has an advanced decision-making construct driven by fear and capitalism. 

The re-criminalization of some American people only needs a small local or national incident to push the ill-assumed stereotypes (especially Black men) and rhetoric to being the most feared and criminalized caste of people in the United States. What troubles me is the hypocrisy and quickness of Americans and the mainstream media to forget the past and in this instance take advantage and use the agency of a minority body to push their fear.  Malcolm X was right when he said, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.

Of course the mechanism of news. So far, it is highly unlikely to separate news and its sensationalism-rhetoric from a possible normal social construct of how delivery of broadcast news is supposed to work. To even begin to talk about the norm, we would have to start our research well before television existed and start where the meaning of rhetoric and objectivity were abandoned. The shameful part of the process is that some castes of people are strained into a culture that is not our own by simply turning on the news.

Tiger Jack’s Forced Out of Business – the last of the Historic Rondo Businesses


By Lucky Rosenbloom, Contributing Columnist

To:  Minnesota State Representative Rena Moran

        St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter

        St. Paul City Council

        Ramsey County Commissioners

Policy and at the time elected officials, played a major role in the destruction of the Rondo neighborhood that was the model of moral citizens, our homes, families and businesses.  

Tiger jack’s building is the only remaining structure from that historic Black Rondo community.

Due to the construction of the Bridge our family business will no longer be seen, access will be denied and for all real purposes our business will be forced to shut down for both safety and others not having access for business.

As such, we will not be able to pay taxes on the building. With the added disturbance, and the added use being blocked, Tiger Jack’s building will fall victim to the RACISM marginalized citizens met during the destruction of our community I-94.

You all should understand the institutional and systemic process this will have relevant to the outcomes shutting down and denied access, business not being visible, safety trying to be at the site and health related issues with respect to construction dirt and machinery close to Tiger Jack’s building.

I will not allow this to happen w/o a battle.  I am saddened that you all will allow this knowing the history of Rondo and our family business and injury during this next months of this project.

“If you bring a problem, bring a solution with it.” Lucky R. Black Pride and Honor Radio-Monday’s 6:30 PM (CST) online wfnu.org or WFNU.94.1 FM Conservative Perspicacity

Open Letter to College Board CEO David Coleman, and Advanced Placement head Trevor Packer – and the Board of Trustees: Where are the Black Literature and History programs in the AP catalog?

By Don Allen, Senior Columnist – Our Black News (MN)

It’s probably better to get along.

Directly after the murder of George Floyd, many major firms went under a ‘pander-demic,’ citing they would make sure that at the foundation of their best practice there would be fair and balanced roles of Equity for Black and Brown people. The most important group in education, besides our state department of education  that has not complied is the College Board who controls AP English and other courses. This is my letter as suggested and edited by the Black AP organization.

Dear Mr. Coleman and Mr. Packer:

My name is Don Allen, M.A.Ed./MAT. I am a high school English teacher in a school that is 100-percent free or reduced lunch and 95-percent minority-ethnic and I care deeply about the future of our students. I am writing this letter to strongly encourage the College Board to develop an Advanced Placement Black American Literature and Composition, Black History, and Black Studies course. We have all heard the old adage that each successive generation should and will be better than the previous, and I am calling on you to make that a reality. My telephone calls to the College Board have been met with harsh disdain and non-reponse, and maybe it’s because of the leadership of AP and the College Board – see here. I understand you don’t speak the same language as the scholars in the inner-city, but author James Baldwin knew it to0: “…the subduers don’t speak the same language as the subdued.”

Don Allen, Senior Editorial Columnist – Our Black News. I do this for free – over 12-years.

Advanced Placement programs play a vital role in developing our students into more educated, thoughtful, and analytical citizens. I believe that such a goal can only be achieved through showing students that racially-based narratives can – and should – change. I believe that academia must evolve, and that begins with amplifying Black voices and narratives. What voices are we silencing by denying a platform? If you offer college-level courses, you must offer college-level discourse. I am imploring you to use your incredible platform and massive influence over student decision-making to create an Advanced Placement Black History Course.

Your own AP Equity and Access Policy states, “We encourage the elimination of barriers that restrict access to AP for students from ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups that have been traditionally underrepresented.” Representation begins with education, but education is still controlled by those in power. I am asking you to take a stand for those very students who, by your own words, have been “traditionally unrepresented.”

Black history has been sanitized in traditional curricula. In order to engage fully and deconstruct prejudice, it deserves more thorough exploration. You have a unique power to provide students with the knowledge and context to be – put simply, better.

You have called for equity, and now you are being called for representation. Imagine the generational ripple effects of a world educated about Black History. I envision a more tolerant, compassionate, and energetic society. One that is focused on equity. One that recognizes the atrocities that have been committed against the Black community. One that gives them a voice to share their own experiences. One that seeks to uphold the values we have already laid claim to, and failed thus far to achieve.

College Board, you have an amazing power to begin a process of healing and connecting. You have the opportunity to take an important first step to dismantling systemic racism in our school systems. Education may not be the ultimate answer, but this is a chance to build a foundation to reach one. It is a travesty that we as a whole are ignorant to a rich and important history that has molded and shaped our present society. Do not continue to perpetuate white silencing of people of color, especially Black male educators.

Thus, I am proposing that the College Board take a stand and create an Advanced Placement Black American Literature and Composition, Black History, and Black Studies course. Your literature cites that students who take AP classes are more likely to be successful in college. I believe that students who take AP Black American Literature and Composition, Black History, and Black Studies courses will be more successful in alleviating racism in the world.

I eagerly look forward to your announcement of a course(s) in development with a committee composed of respected scholars in the field. Anything less is inequitable. 


Don Allen, M.A. Ed./MAT

AP Literature and Composition Teacher 


Black on Black Crime and Fixing the Police

The iconography of a cold dead Black body lying on a tarred road covered with a sheet, hanging from a tree, choked to death by a policeman, or burned alive by a mob creates a seductive voyeurism which has been a part of American history and culture as long as there has been such. A historically designed “picnic” of the most irregular making.

By Don Allen, Senior Editorial Columnist – Our Black News

How different would it be if this were the case? (Photo: Fair Use – Google Search, Facebook)

America’s law enforcement has always been the legal arm of the American sanitation of Black and Brown bodies. What took place in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and what continues to be the juggernaut of American normalcy past, present and future is the targeted and designed intellectual marginalization, arresting, imprisoning or killing of Black men by some type of law enforcement, be it the police in the streets, or a boardroom. In the broad sense, these killings send a disturbing message on many fronts: 1. Self-destructive behaviors are not always Black and White; and 2. The same reasons some white police kill black men is the same reason black men kill Black men; they see no future or value in the Black body. To understand the meaning of the civil war raging in the Twin Cities, we must be clear on how flat characters fit into a thick plot charged with white privilege, race-baiting, and racism.  We must begin by defining the meaning of normalcy in a manipulated society within a dominant-white patriarchal construct that cannot rescue nor redirect itself from historical assumptions of the Black body. For example, saying a Black male is “angry” has a far different meaning from saying a non-Black is “angry.” If a Black person can identify a flaw-in-process to find a better way to complete a task, he’s trying to pull a fast one. If a non-Black student sees the same flaw and works in an attempt to fix it, the response is: This guy is great! We should get him a job in the boss’s office. In the one case, a single consciousness rewards privilege. In the other case, many are damned by the double consciousness about Black people that becomes the normative historical target of fear-generated assumptions; and yes, I might be smarter than you – so you not wanting to work with me because of my skin-color makes you an idiot.

Questionable deaths, especially the deaths that provide a platform of tension and propaganda between Blacks and Whites make for good television news ratings. Like the police, the mainstream media has done a great job of hyping up the assumed non-normalcy of Black men. At this point, it is highly unlikely to separate real news from high-impact television and print news sensationalism. Today, news is not ‘news,’ it’s style and who does it best.  

This is my reflection on what’s happening after talking to dozens of high school students out in the street protesting, watching three Black teenagers car-jack an older white woman in daylight hours, and seeing youth that look like me looting the Midway Footlocker. Yes, I know that Mr. Floyd should not be dead and his death represents many layers of generational and structural racism that have never gone away; man-made, taught, and practiced in the high levels of organizational communication. But how do we address the black and brown bodies that still cause community damage in the form of perverse actions that include the rejection of education?

There are many inside the Black Lives Matter movement, the NAACP and the Urban League who will deny that black-on-black crime is even the issue. One might argue with the exception of BLM because of no formal 501(c) 3 status, the NAACP and the National/Local Urban Leagues can benefit from protesting police murders more than black-on-black crime simply because structural and institutional racism do not want to deal with this embarrassment. This was seen earlier in the week when Minnesota’s governor and lawmakers went public on wanting to look directly at an issue put in front of them many times in the last two-years: the blight of Black Minnesotans in Minnesota. In any case, structural racism wins again.

This is a message to all high school seniors (and their parents). If you were planning to enroll in college next fall — don’t.

by Diane Klein

1. No school will be “back to normal” in fall 2020.

2020 is a wash…

No one knows whether colleges and universities will offer face-to-face instruction in the fall, or whether they will stay open if they do. No one knows whether dorms and cafeterias will reopen, or whether team sports will practice and play.

It’s that simple. No one knows. Schools that decide to reopen may not be able to stay that way. A few may decide, soon, not even to try. Others may put off the decision for as long as possible — but you can make your decision now.

Even if some face-to-face instruction resumes, no one knows if it will last for the whole semester or all year. If there’s anything worse than resigning yourself to a freshman year spent online, it would be moving across country or across town, into a dorm room or an apartment — only to have to move out weeks or months later, with no guarantee of any refund, with further disruption and dislocation. Or worse yet — going back to school, only to have a family member fall ill, or to get sick yourself, when COVID-19 makes a resurgence, as it almost certainly will until there is a vaccine — which in turn is unlikely before January 2021 at the soonest.

Even if schools offer in-person face-to-face instruction this fall, don’t imagine it will be just like last fall. In fear of enrollment declines and loss of endowment values, schools are cutting expenses now — freezing all faculty hiring, and preparing to raise faculty course loads and class sizes, even as they shrink course offerings. Minimum class sizes will go up, meaning specialized and small courses may disappear. Many classes that “migrated” online as an emergency measure in March 2020 may never come back. Faculty members forced to teach this way may find themselves required to go on doing so — regardless of whether they were ever trained to teach effectively online.

Will schools budget fully for the extra- and co-curricular activities that make campus life the memorable and unique experience that it is for so many? I wouldn’t bet on it. The same goes for the support services so crucial to success for first-generation students and others from historically underrepresented groups.

If you wouldn’t be satisfied with the bare-bones, minimum-contact all-online remote instruction being offered at the institution right now — don’t assume things will be any different, or any better, in fall 2020.

2. This is no time to be making one of the largest financial commitments of your life.

The United States economy has suffered a massive shock, and the consequences are ongoing and unknown. Even before this crisis, college students could not be confident they would be able to get a job after graduation that would enable them to repay a six-figure debt. Student loan debt is a huge political issue, and it is possible that the way we finance higher education in this country may change a great deal under a different presidential administration. But this, too, is unknown.

Most schools will allow you to defer for a year. Consider taking them up on it. And if they won’t let you, well, a school that admitted you once will probably admit you again (or a different one will). Declining numbers of college students also mean that schools that can afford it may offer more favorable financial aid packages in a year’s time. Those who have sat out a year may find themselves in a better position to finance a college education in a year’s time than they are right now, when so many families are facing serious financial uncertainty.

3. Let go of FOMO.

There are other important, worthwhile things to do if you take a semester or even a full year off. Here are just a few of them:

Work on a political campaign. There’s an election in November 2020, have you heard? If you care about what the world will look like when you’re an adult in it, get involved. Don’t like any candidates? Then get engaged in issue activism. Like student loan debt, health care, the environment, women’s rights, voting rights. Find something you care about.

Up your technological literacy. Yes, yes, we know everyone under 20 is a “digital native,” but my academic colleagues have found that many college students are actually not as familiar with digital educational technology platforms as many of us assumed. Even when in-person instruction resumes, it’s a safe bet that many more classes will be delivered online. Those with greater fluency in these platforms will be better prepared for that future. For example, how are your Blackboard skills?

Develop more life skills. This tip is not directed at the many, many American teenagers who already have jobs and significant domestic responsibilities as well. It’s directed at the hothouse flowers who arrive at highly selective institutions having won the science fair or debate tournament but never done a load of laundry or cooked a meal. Now is the time to learn.

Get a job (or volunteer). The coming economic downturn may be very severe, and I am not suggesting that teenagers compete for minimum-wage jobs with workers who are primary earners in their families. (And I know many high school students work already.) There are all sorts of work that can be done. Help homeschool younger siblings or become an online tutor. Free up working adults in your household, who may be out of sick leave or other support and must return to work. Get involved in community groups — online, if necessary; in person, when that becomes possible.

As an admitted freshman, it is not your responsibility to spend a fortune or go into debt to help a cash-strapped financially-mismanaged institution stay afloat. If they won’t be around a year from now without your tuition dollars, you’re better off finding that out without enrolling and accepting the substandard education that will be the best they can do under these circumstances.

You’ve already had some precious parts of your senior year stolen from you by this virus — sports championships, the prom, graduation. And if you’ve spent the past few years of your life looking forward to starting college in the fall of 2020, it’s understandable that you are still hoping it will all work out somehow, and you’ll be able to go. If you do, the school you attend may be like something out of The Leftovers, at best, a faded version of what you saw in those glossy online brochures, at worst, a decimated institution with a demoralized and shell-shocked remnant of faculty, staff, and students. If you defer or postpone, what’s the worst that can happen? Your dream school reopens in the fall, and provides in-person instruction all year without any problems. And you miss it, and become a member of the class of 2025, instead. That doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

Part One – North Minneapolis: Will bad public-policy choices continue to influence poverty, blight, and unemployment in the future?

Emerson Avenue - north Minneapolis (photo: City Pages - Fair Use 2019)

I haven’t written an editorial opinion in awhile; the reason being is the academic world keeps me writing and thinking about new and exciting ways to look at the world through a spatial – or 3D lens. So, with that said, I’m going to attempt a wrap-around of North Minneapolis, it’s people, nonprofits, and defining funding moments to ask, “Will bad public-policy choices continue to influence poverty, blight, and unemployment in the future?”

By Don Allen, Senior Editorial Columnist

          In the early twentieth century, North Minneapolis was known as a place where marginalized people came together. Restrictive housing covenants prevented both Jewish and Black American citizens from buying homes elsewhere in Minneapolis, so the Northside became an area where residents from different backgrounds cooperated, built friendships, and even intermarried. After World War II, however, trust between the two groups began to erode. As overtly anti-Semitic practices declined, housing options and job opportunities opened up more readily for Jewish citizens than for Black Americans, straining relationships between previously friendly neighbors (Marks, 2015).

          Historian and multi-media platform host Ronald A. Edwards said, “Since I’ve been here (Mr. Edwards is 80-years old), Black-Americans on the north side suffer from insufficient housing and jobs, he said. In the early days, garbage often went uncollected. That is the history of North Minneapolis (Edwards, 2019). Note: Mr. Ronald A. Edwards was the longest seated chairman of the board for the Minneapolis Urban League when they had over 200 employees, two-schools, housing, and many other functioning programs – unlike 2019.

           Civil rights leader W. Harry Davis described the same unrest in his 2002 autobiography. North Minneapolis in the 1960s, he stated, was no longer the quiet, isolated small city of his youth. The anger over racial inequality that bubbled to the surface in places like Los Angeles and Detroit was also present in Minneapolis. Though some scholars refer to the events as riots, others argue that they were a series of criminal activities. Many, however, use terms like “uprising” and “rebellion” that suggest a strategic response to social injustice; the city had two major incidents of civil unrest on the Northside in the 1960s. The first, in 1966, involved looting and arson on Plymouth Avenue. Arthur Naftalin, the city’s first Jewish mayor, acknowledged the lack of opportunities for Blacks in the neighborhood and promised change in response. By the summer of 1967, conditions had not improved, and Black residents’ frustration was stronger than ever (Davis, Sturdevant, 2020).

          This has been going on since the 1960s – why? In North Minneapolis the status quo (bootlicker’s) are encouraged and rewarded for their cheerfulness, which seems void of ethical practices in community outreach and engagement. I mean really, who do you call as a Black American in Minnesota when you need assistance dealing with race and class issues? The bottom line is that I do support the Minneapolis Urban League – but not the political posturing; less than 20-years ago, the Minneapolis Urban League was a force to recon with, but now, with allegedly taking on short-term loans from other nonprofits to assist in operational obligations, there is a systematic challenge that should be addressed.

         We are dealing with a theory – maybe two very important theories: Occam’s Broom, attributable to a man named Sydney Brenner who describe the process in which “inconvenient facts are whisked under the rug by intellectually dishonest champions of one theory or another” (2013); and Hanlon’s Razor,which at its core means tonever attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity (Steele-Raymond). It’s a philosophical razor which suggests a way of eliminating unlikely explanations for human behavior, like a mental model.

A mental model is simply a representation of how something works, or doesn’t work.

          So, is it crazy to push a citywide statute against take-out containers and straws? Well of course – but when elected officials are treated as celebrities, those who look at the world with a 3D lens have to say, “they don’t know any better, poor souls.” The mythology of banning flavored and menthol cigarettes (under the pretense that it will stop teenagers from smoking is one of the stupidest ideas ever), plastic bags, straws, takeout containers are all easy and decipherable misdirection’s – things they can “fix” – not like people challenges. If the people in the Black community are not organized and focused, the politicians know it and proceed forward with very arrogant and dismissive public policy for those zip codes.

          Simply put (not theory), in interests of a clear interpretation of a messy reality, the systems that govern North Minneapolis – poverty, unemployment, Black people, and Black sustainability have seen fit to keep this area as a Petri dish of disparities for generations on how poor people interact with advanced system-policies that are not in their best interests, geographical factors, political influences, and the lack of selectivity in picking what leader(s) to follow. North Minneapolis’ systems have been a beacon of death for Black-progress for generations.  

           The reasons why both of these theories are representative of North Minneapolis and a large majority of the situations the people are in is because someone – organizations and policy-makers are not being truthful within the systems and decisions made where in most cases are baseless and unhelpful to build human capital in that area. The media generally cites newcomers and a poor and unemployed minority in North Minneapolis as the cause of the violence. Some local press addressed systemic causes—including alienation and racism– and called on community leaders and policymakers to prevent future violent incidents (Marks).

If there are no community leaders and policymakers, what happens?

  • North Minneapolis Part Two: Searching for the “Missing Middle”


(2013, July 3). Occam’s Broom. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/occams-broom-2013-9

Marks, S. (2015). Civil Unrest on Plymouth Avenue, Minneapolis, 1967.

Davis, W. H., & Sturdevant, L. (2002). The autobiography of W. Harry Davis. Afton, MN: Afton Historical Society Press.

Edwards, R A. (2019). The Minneapolis Story. http://theminneapolisstory.com   

Steele, G.L.; Raymond, E.R. eds. (1990-06-12). “The Jargon File, Version 2.1.1 (Draft)”. jargon-file.org. Retrieved 2017-07-19.

I oppose MN HF 1329; it’s not about more Teachers of Color – the focus should be on the K-12 scholars!

Related stories: Why are schools and teacher preparation programs still using the Danielson Framework?

Below is my correspondence with Kaohly Her, MNState Representative, District 64A – St. Paul Vice Chair of Rules and Legislative Administration Committee

Dear Representative Her,

A Bad bill for future MN teachers. This bill moves great people out of the classroom!

As your constituent, I’m writing today to urge you to oppose HF 1329. This bill would strip school leaders of flexibility to hire the best educators, push many teachers of color and indigenous teachers out of the classroom, and ultimately force Minnesota students to lose out on great teachers. 

Minnesota’s previous teacher licensure system was broken, pushing out experienced, effective educators through bureaucratic, confusing, and arbitrary rules. After years of compromise and hard work, state policymakers overhauled this broken system to ensure that Minnesota students never again lose a great teacher due to needless licensure barriers. The state’s new, straightforward tiered teacher licensure system respects school leaders and experienced teachers as professionals, and considers the many skills, experiences, and pathways that can make a teacher great. 

This new tiered system just went into effect in the fall of 2018, and is already benefitting many teachers, schools, and, most important, students. Yet, HF 1329 would take us back to the broken system it replaced. It would make it harder for schools to hire educators with unique backgrounds, out-of-state teaching experience, and specific content knowledge, and also make it harder for those educators to stay in the classroom, even after years of successful teaching. Perhaps most egregious, this legislation would have a disproportionate impact on teachers of color, who are much more highly represented in Tiers 1 and 2. 

Instead of re-erecting licensure barriers for educators, we need to focus on better supporting and retaining them. Please oppose HF 1329 and instead work to improve on-the-job supports and equitable professional development opportunities for teachers so that they can grow professionally and have the greatest possible impact on Minnesota students.

State representatives response:

Dear Donald,

Thank you for contacting me about legislation related to K-12 teacher licensing. I appreciated your taking the time to be in touch about this issue.

As you know, after considerable debate, the 2017 Legislature created a new tiered teacher licensure system. The tiered system provided four options (tiers) for licensure for individuals hoping to become a teacher in Minnesota and did away with the special permissions and non-licensed community experts; going forward, all teachers will have to have licenses. The changes were prompted in part by concerns that schools and administrators were relying too heavily on non-licensed personnel as a way to employ less expensive staff. 

The teacher licensing issue is generating discussion and debate again this session. On March 4, the House Education Policy Committee (on which I serve) discussed the bill you referenced, HF 1329. Provisions from this bill were subsequently folded into the Education Policy Omnibus Bill, HF 1711, which was unveiled in the committee on March 11. 

With regard to Tier 1 licenses, the omnibus bill in its current form would allow one renewal, along with subsequent renewals if the employing school district can show good cause. The bill would also allow a teacher with a Tier 1. license to be included in the teachers’ bargaining unit. In addition, it allows only two renewals of a Tier 2 license; removes the pathway to a Tier 2. license for individuals with a content-area master’s degree; and removes the coursework requirement for candidates for a Tier 2 license. The bill also contains various changes related to Tier 3 and Tier 4 licenses.

Proponents view the proposed changes as important to ensuring that teachers receive sufficient preparation prior to receiving a teaching license that can be renewed indefinitely. On the other hand, opponents testified with concerns similar to those you expressed, arguing that it would exacerbate current teacher shortages and leave Minnesota with a less diverse teaching force. 

As the session moves forward, I will continue to discuss issues around teacher licensure with colleagues and constituents, and I will certainly keep your comments in mind as I do so. Again, thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. Please keep in touch; I welcome your feedback and input.

Kaohly Her

Kaohly HerState Representative, District 64A – St. PaulVice Chair, Rules and Legislative Administration CommitteeAddress: 100 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Saint Paul, MN 55155

Email: rep.kaohly.her@house.mn

Phone: (651) 296-8799Social Media: FB | Twitter @kaohlyvangher
Website: www.house.mn/64a


IBNN in collaboration with Our Black News provides this very important article with the permission of Dr. Andrew Johnson. Originally published on March 13, 2019 via Linkedin. The most important question: “Why are schools and teacher preparation programs still using the Danielson Framework?

By Dr, Andrew Johnson – Posted with permission

Andrew Johnson (photo: Linkedin Fair Use)

The Danielson Framework (1996) has been around for over 20 years. It is still being used in various forms in many schools and teacher preparation programs. Charlotte Danielson attempted to deconstruct what she perceived as professional teaching practice by breaking it down into four domains: (a) planning and preparation, (b) classroom environment, (c) instruction, and (d) professional responsibilities. These four domains were broken into 22 components and then into 76 tiny elements. Danielson also included a rubric for each of the 76 tiny elements that described four levels of teacher performance: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, and distinguished levels. 

In designing this framework, Danielson selected the elements that she decided were important for being and becoming a professional educator. She purported to offer educators a platform to create conversations about the elements of good teaching. In reviewing the 76 tiny elements, there are indeed many that can contribute to important educational conversations. (There are also some that are highly subjective with supporting research that is, at best, peripheral.) However, conversation implies a two-way flow of ideas. When rubrics are created and levels of performance are described, there is little, if any, room for conversation.  What is created instead is an evaluation tool, variations of which are being used today in teacher preparation programs and public schools to create a certain type of teacher with a set of values and teaching philosophy that somebody other than the teacher being evaluated has determined to be appropriate.

A Subjective Display of Objectivity

Although the framework might be perceived by some to be an objective examination and application of empirical research, Danielson’s description of professional practice is highly subjective and parochial in terms of the elements that were selected for consideration as well as the limited depth and breadth of research that was examined. It represents a fairly narrow, reductionist theoretical perspective. If a more expansive set of data were examined from a wider variety of fields related to human learning, and if a more inclusive lens were used to interpret this data, a much different set of domains and components would certainly be included. If this perspective was used, it is highly doubtful that the state of being and becoming an effective educator would be reduced to 76 tiny elements. It is doubtful as well that each of these 76 tiny elements would be put on a four-point scale and used to evaluate teachers.


Danielson claims that her framework is research-based (Danielson, 2007); however, this is a bit misleading. While research can be found to support many (but not all) of Danielson’s 76 tiny elements, putting these 76 tiny elements together in a single framework does not mean the framework itself is supported by research. It just means that it is a list of 76 tiny elements, some of which are supported by research. There is no comparative research suggesting that the Danielson framework is more effective for enhancing the professional practice of pre-service and practicing teachers than other frameworks, checklists, rubrics, models, sets of dispositions, standards, assessment devices, professional development strategies, or reflective practices. 

Unstated Purpose

As well, there should be no doubt that the current unstated purpose of the Danielson Framework is to enable the educational industrial complex to generate greater profits (Brightman & Gutmore, 2002). If instead the purpose of the framework was to actually improve education, a set of domains and components would be also be included for principals and administrators, schoolboard members, legislators, professors at teacher preparation institutions, scholars, and anybody else making decisions or recommendations about schools and classrooms. Such domains, uniformly applied, would invite all to begin to explore a wider range of research and ideas related to education and human learning. This type of application would have the potential to evolve our current educational system and be of benefit to those other than a few financial stakeholders. However, this is not the case. Since the framework was introduced in 1996, additional domains have not been included.

A Solution in Search of a Problem

• The framework has been accepted as being the answer to a problem that was never defined. Effective problem solving of any kind is dependent on first defining the problem. What was the problem for which the Danielson Framework was thought to be the solution? 

• Effective problem solving also involves generating a number of ideas before selecting a solution.  If there was a problem, was the Danielson framework the only solution that was considered for this undefined problem? Was it the best solution to this mysterious problem?  

• Use of the Danielson framework is another example of a solution in search of a problem. The only problem it really solves it this: How can the educational industrial complex continue to generate profit?


Brightman, H.J., & Gutmore, G. (2002) The Educational-Industrial Complex. The Educational Forum, 66 (4), 302-308, DOI: 10.1080/00131720208984848

Danielson, C. (1996). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. Alexandra, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Danielson, C. (2007). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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