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Memorandum of Agreement
MOA FAQs

What is the MOA?

The MOA stands for Memorandum of Agreement. It is an agreement between the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID) and the Minneapolis Public Schools to work collaboratively to dramatically improve outcomes for American Indian students.

What does the MOA hope to achieve?

It aims to restore a shared sense of responsibility between the community and the Minneapolis Public Schools. It hopes to build an infrastructure of school and community networks that promote the academic achievement of American Indian youth. It hopes to bring together American Indian families and the schools and break the crisis-oriented, reactive relationship through ongoing dialogue and partnership.

Why an MOA with the MPS school board?

The MOA formalizes and articulates a commitment. It is an agreement at a policy level that ensures a focused attempt by both MPS and the American Indian community regardless of respective leadership changes.

Who has been involved in its development?

The primary force that initiated this process is the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID). MUID is a grassroots based effort comprised of professionals and organizations developed for culturally based community thought and action on behalf of the metropolitan American Indian community. The renewed MOA, signed in January 2012 is the result of an inclusive planning process lasting over a year involving hundreds of community members, school administrators, teachers, parents and students.

What was the process to develop the MOA? When did this happen?

  • In December of 2005, the work group held a discussion meeting with school board to report on progress and in October 2006, the MPS board signed the original MOA. This represented a tremendous achievement and was the first agreement of its kind in the United States.
  • In December 2010, the Board of Education passed a resolution directing the Director of Indian Education to begin negotiations with MUID for a renewed and ongoing MOA and to begin a process to bring a revised MOA forward. A Steering Committee and three subcommittees (Research & Best Practices, Data & Evaluation, and Engagement) were formed and began meeting in February 2011. Members of these groups included parents, principals, teachers, students, district administrators, the President of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, a Board of Education director and American Indian community leaders.
  • Subcommittees and the Steering Committee came back together for a retreat in October 2011 to finalize the content of the renewed MOA and several writers were appointed. Final negotiations lasted into December 2011 and the renewed MOA was presented to the Board of Education and to MUID in December 2011.
  • The Board of Education and MUID both voted to approve the renewed and perpetual MOA on January 10, 2012.

What are the essential understandings behind the MOA?

  • Real change must come from a real partnership between the community and the Minneapolis Public Schools; blaming and negativity must give way to all stakeholders stepping forward in good faith to audit present practices and develop a true infrastructure for our American Indian youth.
  • The Minneapolis Public Schools needs guidance and support in connecting to American Indian students; American Indian learners see and feel through a unique cultural lens and there are several indigenous communities around the world that have taken ownership of their education and developed innovative, culturally-responsive programs that can be used as models.
  • While a Memorandum of Agreement is good, a document in and of itself cannot undo generations of underachievement; the Memorandum of Agreement is a trigger, a touchstone that unites stakeholders and signals a larger community-wide, capacity-building movement that will steadily build pathways for our youth.
  • Efforts to improve the achievement of American Indian students should not rest solely on Indian Education; while MPS has an office of Indian Education that receives federal dollars to supplement district efforts, American Indian students are Minneapolis Public School students and everyone needs to own part of the solution.
  • American Indians have a unique, federally-recognized status as members of sovereign nations and their history with public education is painful and traumatic; we are only a few generations removed from the boarding school era and healing must occur to allow positive open dialogue about the goals of today’s education.

What are the major components?

The MOA has several major components.

Best Practice Sites: The MOA is intended to impact the education of native students district wide at all schools, but three schools with large American Indian populations have been selected to serve as Indigenous Best Practice sites as models for replication elsewhere. The three Best Practice sites are Anishinabe Academy (preK-8), South High School All nations (9-12) and Nawayee Center School (7-12, a contract alternative site). District led Best Practice sites will be defined by:

  • The use of the Universal Instructional Practices Tool for coaching and continuous improvement of teachers. Based on the Standards of Effective Instruction, The Principles of Learning and the Seven Ways of Knowing, the tool will be used as part of an observation and coaching cycle that will enhance teachers’ ability to integrate cultural relevance into their instruction.
  • Indigenous Best Practice Sites will hire teachers through the Interview and Select process to ensure mutual consent and facilitate the best match possible of teachers and sites or programs. Members of the American Indian community will be invited to participate on interview teams, ensuring community input into hiring decisions.Teachers at Best Practice sites will be asked to sign an agreement acknowledging the unique status of the Best Practice sites and their commitment as educators to the integration of cultural relevance and academic rigor.  Teachers will commit to attending an orientation to the Best Practice site, participate in the observation and coaching cycle, participate in indigenous language learning and to make use of indigenous language in their classroom.  Teachers will also commit to attending professional development sessions as offered through MPS Indian Education and Phillips Indian Educators.  Commitment and compliance with these requirements will allow teachers to be protected from district-wide layoff, bumping and placement of excessed teachers. 
  • Regular participation in the MUID education subgroup (Phillips Indian Educators) to discuss their site’s implementation of the MOA.

School Improvement Plans: The Best Practice Sites will include MOA implementation in their School Improvement Plans.

Professional Development: MPS will continue to partner with Phillips Indian Educators and MUID to offer professional development for teachers and school staff on Best Practices for Teaching Native Students. Professional development opportunities will be expanded to include subject and content specific lessons. 

Community partnerships: MPS will enter into partnerships with American Indian community based organizations to provide supplementary educational programming and advocacy to support the work at Best Practices sites and district wide to support the ultimate goal of improved educational outcomes for American Indian students.

Ongoing Engagement:  MPS and MUID will partner to encourage and enhance opportunities for American Indian families to engage in their children’s education and to create a district wide American Indian student leadership group to channel the leadership and voices of young people in our community. 

Communication: Phillips Indian Educators will make regular reports to MUID on the progress of the MOA implementation at monthly meetings and meet monthly with the MPS Superintendent and her designees for discussion and problem solving on matters related to the implementation of the MOA. MUID and the MPS Board of Education will hold annual meetings to review progress of the implementation of the MOA. These meetings shall include a review of data reflecting the status of American Indian students in Minneapolis Public Schools as outlined in the Mutual Accountability section. Finally, the MPS Board of Education shall designate a board member as the official liaison to MUID and the MUID education subcommittee (PIE).

Mutual Accountability: The metrics and annual performance targets established through the renewed MOA encompass a broad spectrum of pre-literacy through college readiness benchmarks used by the Minneapolis Public Schools. The annual performance targets included as Appendix B reflect the district wide performance targets for all American Indian students over the next five years. The accelerated “Close the Gap” performance targets for Indigenous Best Practice Sites included as Appendix C reflect our mutual aspiration to close the achievement gap for American Indian students within the five-year term of the MOA. Resource limitations, in both the district and community, dictate that we will be unable to focus on moving all targets at once. Focus areas will therefore be established annually by the MUID education subcommittee and district and school leadership teams as described above.

How does this differ from Anishinabe Academy?

The American Indian community fought for a separate school devoted to the unique cultural needs of American Indian students. While that desire focused on a single site, the MOA’s focus is on all teachers and staff, at all schools, and emphasizes teaching methods (how) versus content (what). The Memorandum of Agreement seeks to impact the system of instruction, professional development, evaluation and family involvement across the district.

How can I become involved?

We need the voice of American Indian students and families to help make this vision a reality. If you would like to become involved, please contact the Indian Education Department @ 612-668-0610.