Minnesota is home to the public school that is ranked No. 1 in the nation in growth in student achievement, according to the nonprofit national education organization Northwest Evaluation Association.
I am proud to work at this school -- Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TiZA).
Minnesota also has one of the largest achievement gaps for students of color in the nation. I am saddened by this.
I started working at TiZA six years ago. At that time, it was not meeting federal requirements for "Adequate Yearly Progress." The school's executive director stated that this was not acceptable. He wanted to ensure that the students were ready to continue their education at some of the best colleges and universities.
After many years of focused effort on student achievement, the students at TiZA (more than 75 percent English language learners and more than 80 percent below poverty) scored so well on state standardized testing that the Minnesota Department of Education spent $30,000 investigating whether or not they were cheating. Now that the test results have been validated as authentic and TiZA has been awarded a federal Charter School Dissemination Grant to share instructional and learning strategies with others, it is time to focus on ways to work with TiZA to improve student achievement.
As a native Minnesotan and educator with more than 20 years of experience, it is exciting to work with students and families who are overcoming challenges to integrate into life in Minnesota.
There is an opportunity to enrich lives through education that columnist Katherine Kersten chooses to ignore and, in fact, damages with hysterical comments about the school. In her latest diatribe ( "Affidavits portray TiZA as threatening," Feb. 28) she focused on unfounded comments in an affidavit that claimed intimidation, when in fact there were over a dozen affidavits, including from TiZA parents who attended the meeting in question, that attested to the quality of the school and of its teachers and leadership and to the fact that there was no intimidation.
She has also claimed that the school is indoctrinating students in Islam, which is absurd given that the majority of teachers are not Muslim.
Trying to tarnish a shining model of success in education is bad for Minnesota. It also helps explain why the state can't make progress in closing the achievement gap.