Schools seize momentum to tackle racism, achievement gaps

Minnesota schools, reopening amid a pandemic and a national reckoning over systemic racism, are sharpening their focus on the state’s decadeslong problems with achievement gaps and educational disparities.

Around the state, schools are adding new staff to focus on equity in classroom instruction and hiring, and approving policies that define — and disavow — racism. Some are contemplating changes to classroom materials and curriculum. Groups of students, alumni, teachers and principals have organized to lobby superintendents and school boards, calling on them to be more active and outspoken to combat racism in schools.

Educators say the momentum sparked by George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police, and the disparities laid bare by the pandemic, may do more to transform schools than other efforts of the recent past. Jessica Davis, a racial equity coach for St. Louis Park Public Schools — and the 2019 Minnesota Teacher of the Year — said the

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