Monthly Archives: February 2019

Comments Off on Gov Walz’s (One Minnesota Hoax) First Budget Released

Alright – so, Gov Walz (aka One Minnesota Hoax) released his first budget as governor. As you can imagine, there is nothing substantial or creative in this budget for areas that affect autism and special education.

Let’s start with his measly proposal of around 8 million dollars to increase teachers of color. I know 8 million out of billions? yep – that is how little Walz values this issue – peanuts. First of all, increasing teachers of color by offering grants and scholarships are nothing new. Minnesota has been doing it for years now, and there are teachers of color including Somalis who used this program. You see that is not the problem.

The issue is what school districts do or don’t do after these folks get their degree and graduate. For example, I have seen several Somali teachers who can’t find jobs in any district. One Somali autism teacher told me that they (school districts) don’t offer teachers of color good contracts with benefits. Instead, they hire them temporarily with no benefits nor nurture their career. Additionally, these teachers of color face “microaggression and subliminal racism” according to this Somali autism teacher. Gee, I wonder where I heard that?

By the way, two Republicans introduced legislation before to increase teachers of color. Think about that GOP party does not win because of minority votes, they probably lose elections but definitely don’t win, yet they did such an amazing bill. On the other hand, the DFLers whom minorities vote for like it is holy water mostly (not all) give us empty promises during elections then ignore our issues after they win. Please vote wisely. Vote based on their legislative and policy record not because they learned a couple of Somali words, took a selfie with you or are your social media friends. Come on minorities, we have to do vote wisely. Pretty please!

For autism, Gov One Minn Hoax basically had nothing in terms of research nor decreasing Minnesota’s horrible suspension and the achievement gap. I sooooo regret voting for this governor. We can’t be fooled next election.

Usually, how The Governor’s budgets work is also from each state agency. In other words, each state agency puts its own budget and priorities together and sends it to the governor then he/she (maybe one day) proposes it.

In this case, the agencies that affect autism are the education department which added nothing/nada for autism. The Health Department also known as the do nothing about health agency added zero items for autism. Deed or the employment agency never really cared before and is worse now. This actually disappoints me the most because children with autism will become adults with autism and DEED has no clue how to support them in employment and/or otherwise. Then there is the human services agency and they (mostly because of Jason whom I refer to Mr. Fantastic) added background check for EIBDI providers. This is the only light for autism. I thank Jason for again listening, validating and wanting to ensure our children are safe. Currently, there are no background study requirements for the staff that provides treatments to children and adults with autism. Imagine that. Finally, there is the human rights department which is and has always been underfunded. No surprise there because God forbid Minnesota would want to actually investigate and eliminate racial discrimination. If you remember, this agency under Kevin told us how schools discriminate against students of color in how they discipline.  You would think Gov One Minn Hoax would increase their budget substantially so that they can help affected students, families and school districts. Nope.

Gov Walz also said something about OneCare, which will probably be similar to MNsure. In my opinion, it is all s###ht care. We still have health disparity, clearly, this ain’t working.

Human Rights Budget from Walz (aka One Minn Hoax)

Human Services Budget from Walz (aka One Minn Hoax) The autism part is on page 191 which is the only light in this long dark tunnel by Walz. 

Health Department from Walz (aka One Minn Hoax). I always puke when I think of where we are with this agency and where we came from when wonderful Dr. Sanne was in charge. Oh, how I miss her.

Education Department from Walz (aka One Minn Hoax) This what happens when the commissioner looks like the teachers that disproportionately suspend our children. I bet she is clueless about what is happening in actual schools and how discrimination creates achievement and discipline gap. 

Employment from Walz (aka One Minn Hoax) disappointing but not surprising. 

Council of African Heritage used to be called Council of Black Minnesotans. His budget here is insulting. Really insulting and this is the guy we (blacks) voted for. Come on.

Here is the list for each agency, area if you want to get a headache and see how little Walz thinks of communities of color. What the heck is the minority Lt Governor doing? Why is she sleeping? 

In summary, Jason from DHS was the sole person that cared enough about children with autism. How do you like them apples?

I guess we are reaping our bad votes in this governor. Oh one more item, remember all the talks about every Minnesotan having a seat at the Governor’s table? well, it turns out those were for sale seats. In other words, if you donated money to Gov Walz’s campaign then you bought yourself a seat. If you did not, then you have been lied to. See that here. These were the folks who bought their seats and voice. Lovely!

The individual donors who were part of the Governor’s advisory council included:

•    Abdirahman Kahin of the Afro Deli ($750)
•    Javier Morillo of SEIU Local 26 ($700)
•    Denise Specht of Education Minnesota ($500)
•    Paul Austin of Conservation Minnesota ($500)
•    Tony Sertich of the Northland Foundation ($500)
•    Senta Leff of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless ($454)

Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom

Comments Off on United Black Legislative Caucus is Created in the Minnesota Legislature by Six African Americans – Hello!

Alright – so, Minnesota now has the most minority legislatures. Yay! I soooooo hope this means our communities will be fairly represented and inequalities eliminated. Reps Hodan, Moran, Richardson, Noor and Senators Hayden and Champion formed this caucus. They talked about writing specific bills in education to close the disparity gap and don’t forget the suspension disparities as well. They also stated judicial reform is needed… you think? We need more judges of color to be appointed by Walz AND we need our attorneys including Champion to run for county and district attorneys as well as judges. Richardson talked about maternal health disparity. Well…. well….well….can we please fire previous deputy commissioner Pollack and current MDH commissioner Jan if we really want to get rid of maternal health disparity which is baaaad for women of color in Minnesota. Actually, Minnesota is doing worse in this area than some third world countries. Who is surprised by this? please stand up and come out of living under a rock.

I have said a million times, disparity comes from discrimination. The faster we admit this – the faster we can address it. Just take a look at the people in charge of Minnesota Department of Human Services. No Black person.. what a shock there!  And the Minnesota Department of Health…who the heck looks like me there…. drum roll please….. nada. Just to tell you how bad Minnesota is in White privilege – remember when MDH or the state health department didn’t care about the elderly getting abused and neglected. Well, guess who was in charge of that? Dan Pollock. Did he get fired? Oh god no. never. He got promoted to be deputy commissioner of the human services department. This is what creates disparity. Giving opportunities to yuky people like Pollock. I am sorry but if one more white person tells me they understand inequity and disparity, I am going to scream. One of my favorite people on this earth is Professor Michael Eric Dyson who is simply amazing. Here is what he said about white privilege which is soooo true.

Equity has become a hip word for elected officials to use. Oh, they also said something about Walz being a former teacher. Ah, excuse me but aren’t a white male and white female teachers the ones who suspend students of color disproportionately. Walz is also from Mankato school district which has a horrible suspension rate for students of color. Can we party like it is 1999 now? like really? Governor Walz helping the Black community in Minnesota is an oxymoron.

Seriously, will the real slim shady please stand up…is all I can really say here.

blah blah, blah was the rest of this speech. They needed to come and hit it out of the park with specific agendas and actual specific bills that had assigned numbers. You can watch or read that announcement here.

As always, above words are my own and do not represent any candidate, agency or committee.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom

Comments Off on Cameras in Special Needs Classes – Why Are They Important in Minnesota and Nationwide – Bloomington Public Schools Need This….

Alright – so, from May 3rd of 2018 when my son who has nonverbal autism was suspended by Bloomington Public Schools (BPS), I have been trying to make sense of what happened and why BPS would treat my child such cruel manner.

I have blogged about this and will continue to do as well as testify in whatever state committees possible and inform as many legislators as I can find. I continue to find disturbing data and information that students of color especially black boys are disproportionately suspended by districts such as Bloomington as well as other districts in Minnesota and nationwide. Equally important is that students of color are also sent to segregated educational settings disproportionately by school districts such as Bloomington. You see Bloomington Public School even wanted to send my child to a level four educational setting which is a separate and segregated building. Of course, I said, “hell will freeze, and pigs will fly before I would allow that”.

As a result, BPS chose to hire an expensive attorney and fight me in due process court. I will write about my experience there as well as testify and tell my story to everyone I know but this post is about sending minority students especially black boys to a separate and unequal educational setting while society mostly stands idle. (no pun intended).

First, in Minnesota, there are no cameras in self-contained special needs classrooms to protect our children from being abused as so many including my son have been. Without cameras, there is no way to prove abuse happened as often our children are not able to tell us or the authorities.

Second, so many teachers including my son’s teacher (Kelly Morris) from BPS do not have adequate training and support to help and teach these children. So, they choose to suspend, expel or ship them to a segregated and unequal building.

Third, there is for sure either subliminal or conscious bias and racism that often no one wants to admit. As the saying goes, I am a liberal therefore I can’t be racist, I have a black friend, therefore, I can’t be racist, I voted for Obama or Ilhan, therefore, I can’t be racist. Only if I had a penny every time, I heard this.

Fourth, in Minnesota and other states, families of color don’t have strong advocacy attorneys who fight for our children. Often there are disability law and advocacy centers who are underpaid and overworked and are sadly no match for the private and expensive attorneys schools can afford.

Fifth, so many parents including me look the other way unless it happens to them. This is the saddest point of all. Qofkii walaalkiis loo xiiroow, adna soo qoyso. Don’t ever assume you are immune to what happens to your fellow autism parent.

  • We must advocate for cameras in special needs classes. Please call your legislators and ask them to write and/or support such legislation in Minnesota because protecting students with disabilities is a must.
  • We must advocate for holding school districts like Bloomington in Minnesota who disproportionately suspend minority children by speaking and sharing our experiences and asking our legislators that there must be better laws protecting and holding teachers and administrators accountable with tangible consequences.
  • We must advocate for holding school districts like Bloomington in Minnesota who send children to segregated buildings because often that is a violation of students learning in the least restrictive environment. There are school districts who disproportionately send students of color, especially black boys to these cruel segregated settings that are often pipeline to prison.
  • Here is how you can find who represents you in Minnesota’s state and federal elected officials.
  • Parents in Texas advocated for this and here is that information.

Ironically, I found this article in The New Yorker written by a journalist who years ago was for some reason interested in doing a story about my advocacy in the Somali autism community. Rachel writes about how black boys in Georgia are disproportionately sent to a separate and unequal educational setting. I hope you read it, it is long but you will find yourself energized to do something as there are a lot of similarities to this story and where Bloomington wanted to send my child and sadly sends other minority students.

Georgia’s Separate and Unequal Special Education System by The New Yorker on October 2018 issue.

A teacher hurting an autism child…this pisses off to my core. 

A teacher abusing an autistic child – this happens a lot by not just teachers but also the paraprofessionals which is what happened to my child but because often our children are not able to tell us, the school staff deny unless of course, a camera catches them.

Another area to advocate is the governor of Minnesota’s office. However, I am not optimistic Walz will help due to the fact that he was a teacher in Mankato Public Schools given that Mankato suspends students of color disproportionately as a report by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights outlined.

The state requires Mankato Public Schools to make a plan to reduce discipline disparities

Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom

Comments Off on Solutions NOT Suspensions – A Report by The Minnesota Minority Education Partnership

Alright – so, this report was done in 2013 and over five years later, we are still struggling with this. Our children are still being suspended and expelled disproportionately.

Here are the report’s recommendations:

MMEP Solutions Not Suspensions’ Discipline
Policy Reform Recommendations
Through a community collaborative process, MMEP along with:
community leaders, youth advocates, parents, and students came
together as a team to discuss issues of school discipline and develop
research-based, data-driven discipline policy reform recommendations
that reflect the wants, needs, and concerns of families and students.
The following are recommendations for discipline policy reform for
Minnesota school districts:
1. School discipline policies should align with a restorative framework, encourage models of positive behavior, and focus on alternative practices in all schools. Within discipline policies, there must be
clear restrictions and guidelines on the use of disciplinary responses to
misbehavior that include necessitated use of intervention practices for
minor misconduct prior to any exclusionary response. Minor misconduct should be regarded as any behavior that does not MANDATE
exclusionary responses (assault, weapons, and terroristic threats). For
all other conduct, appropriate interventions addressing the specific issue
should be utilized.

2. There needs to be a concerted, intentional process developed to
gather and understand the holistic context in which incidents of
misbehavior occur prior to any reactive response. Examples of this
may include asking student witnesses their perspective on the incident
or reviewing past interactions between student and teacher or student.

3. The role and responsibility of law enforcement in schools need to
be clarified through a memorandum of understanding that limits
the use of school-based arrests and ticketing to violent, serious
offenses that unmistakably threaten and endanger the safety of
staff and students. Law enforcement should commit to supporting and
abiding by a restorative framework that encourages addressing student
misconduct with school intervention practices. Students and community
voices should be included in the creation of this memorandum of
understanding. Because restorative practices have proven to achieve the
desired outcomes courts and county attorneys are presumably looking
for, the use of restorative practices in schools should also be considered
as an alternative to court involvement for incidences where law enforcement is called for.
MMEP and the MMEP Solutions Not Suspensions campaign are committed to providing support to both school
districts and communities in the process of reforming discipline policies and practices to ensure the empowerment,
engagement, and equitable treatment of students of color. Through continued research and community
collaboration, we are identifying interventions and alternatives that can effectively close the discipline gap in
Minnesota schools, and enhance the academic achievement and elevate the inherent dignity of all of our students.

4. Create a public reporting system for discipline data that is disaggregated by misbehavior type, age, gender, grade, race/ethnicity,
school, teacher/staff, date of the incident, and the response taken. This
data should be used by schools and districts: to track program success,
identify areas of improvement, identify trends in teacher/staff referrals,
and trends in misbehavior to better tailor alternative programming.
Parents should also have access to this data pertaining to their individual
student(s) in order to fully engage in preventing further misbehavior or
escalation. Additionally, this type of data collection, paired with data
collection on educational achievement measures would help to evaluate
the impact alternative disciplinary interventions are having and which
are most influential in improving engagement and achievement.

5. Eliminate the option for out-of-school suspension/expulsion of
any kindergarteners. Pushing students out during their introductory
year to education and the fragile time period of psychological development is damaging to student engagement. All incidents of misbehavior,
especially for our youngest learners, should be understood as learning
opportunities and addressed accordingly.

6. Partner with parents, students and community organizations in
the development of alternative interventions specifically designed
and proven to address different types of misbehavior. ie. Drug counseling for drug possession/use, Not only will these partnerships provide
for productive interventions to address the root causes of misbehavior,
but also the opportunity for stronger collaboration and trust between
community partners and schools.
7. Mandatory cultural competence and anti-racism professional
development training is necessary for teachers and staff to be
well-educated and aware of situations and circumstances students
are facing inside and outside of school, as well as an examination
and understanding of subconscious biases or underlying assumptions they may hold, prior to responding to student misconduct.
We measure students through MCA II testing and other forms of
assessments but where are the assessments for the teachers that are
measurable and show them where they are in regards to their cultural
competence or biases?

Full link to the report can be found here.

Please vote wisely as voting for the same people that hire the same teachers, principals, administrators, commissioners and expecting different results is insane and has not worked. Policies that allow such bias suspensions come from people who have been hired by politicians we voted for. We need to learn to connect our votes to their policies or lack thereof. 

Idil – Somali Autism Mom

Category: Uncategorized

Comments Off on Suspending Students of Color Disproportionately by Minnesota White Female Teachers and Administrators – What Can We do About it?

Alright – so, anyone who does not live under a rock knows that Minnesota has some of the worst racial divide and disparities for people of color. We also know that Minnesota is one of the best states to live unless of course, you are a person of color.

We know that over 90% of teachers in Minnesota are white and overwhelmingly female. The question now is why are these mostly white females suspending mostly minority boys who are often black?

Ever since my own son who has nonverbal autism has been suspended by a white female teacher (Kelly Morris) at Jefferson High school in Bloomington Public Schools, I have been struggling with this question.

Now, keep in mind my child could not talk back at this white teacher. Additionally, she took his voice by not giving him his communication device and he does not understand the concept of suspension or even that he was suspended. \Mminority teenagers and even elementary students are suspended by mostly white female teachers like Ms. Morris. Why is that? What do these white female teachers see when they see our children? Why do they think their only option is to kick the student out of school. Why does Minnesota have this horrible record which is higher than most other states? Why do Bloomington public schools have a higher rate of minority students suspended than other districts? Why Why Why?

Is it racism? is it subconscious bias, is it lack of training, its lack of what? 

I recently read an article in the NY Times and something a Minneapolis principal said stuck in my mind. Ms. Rathke stated, “We have students that we just haven’t figured out how to support yet.” Think about that sentence for a hot minute. These mostly white female teachers have not figured out how to support, teach, nurture, and educate our children. Instead of learning how to bleeping do their job, they suspend and kick our kids out of school. Imagine that.

You see I have a different take on this. We (minorities) allow these teachers to screw with our children and our families because we have not yet figured out how to advocate effectively through policy. You see if a teacher knew there would be consequences for her suspensions, she would think twice. If a district knew their funding would be affected, they would think twice before they suspend any child.

Study after study after study tells this is real and has consequences for our children and families. This has been going on for decades and generations. We simply can not tolerate it anymore. We should’ve never tolerated it. We must fight it through policy changes that have meaningful consequences and accountability. These teachers including the white female teacher (Kelly Morris) who suspended my son are denying our children their free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

Please start calling or writing to your state and congressional representatives and the governor asking and demanding this racially based disparity is eliminated. We must hold our elected officials accountable to write and enact better laws and policies that protect our children from such harsh treatments. Additionally, these school districts are controlled by school boards who are elected by the people of that city. Only we are smart and strategic because we can replace the board with members that actually represent the students and families. You see the board hires the superintendent who hires the principals who hire the teachers and who the heck hires or votes for the board – us. That is right. We have the power to change the narrative and the landscape if we worked hard and stayed focused. 

Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom