‘Boys of Baraka,’ an ed-inequity talk — and a wind-turbine challenge

/ 2 May 2012 / jennifer

Beth Hawkins, MinnPost, May 2, 2012 –

Montrey from Boys of Baraka
‘Boys of Baraka’ follows four Baltimore City Public Schools students as they attend the Baraka school in Kenya.

You know what you’d see if you looked in my inbox? An avalanche of press releases from people who are putting on a dizzying variety of events of interest to the education-minded, young and old.

Tonight, Minneapolis Public Schools hopes you will attend a community screening of “Boys of Baraka” at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis and a discussion afterward facilitated by MPS parents.

The award-winning PBS documentary follows four poverty-stricken Baltimore City Public Schools students who were offered an opportunity as 12- and 13-year-olds to attend the Baraka school in Kenya, as part of a project to remove young boys from low-performing public schools and unstable home environments and place them in a novel school in East Africa.

Said filmmaker Heidi Ewing of the boys’ two-year journey: “I think it’s important for people to get to know these boys because they represent thousands of kids like them who aren’t given any opportunities to succeed and to show what they’re made of. … These boys show you what somebody can do if they’re given an opportunity.”

The film starts at 5:30 at the Parkway, 4814 Chicago Avenue S.

Educational inequity

Don’t want to go out on a school night but still want to learn more about poverty, equity and possibility? On Friday, May 4, Sheryll Cashin, author and professor of law at Georgetown University, will deliver a talk at the University of St. Thomas entitled, “Shall We Overcome? Educational Equity and the Future of Multiracial Politics.”

Cashin’s writing about race and inequality in America includes commentaries in the L.A. Times, Washington Post and Education Week, as well as two critically received books, 2008’s “The Agitator’s Daughter: A Memoir of Four Generations of One Extraordinary African-American Family,” which examines American race relations through the lens of her own family, and 2004’s “The Failures of Integration: How Race and Class Are Undermining the American Dream.”

After earning her law degree at Harvard University, Cashin clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshal. Later, she worked in the Clinton White House as an adviser on urban and economic policy.

Her presentation will be the 15th in the Julian Parker Lecture Series, which honors Parker’s legacy as a leader on urban education and race-relations issues nationally and his work with St. Thomas in the 1960s in an exchange program between the nation’s historically black colleges and Minnesota private colleges.

A reception for Cashin begins at 6 p.m. in Schulze Hall on St. Thomas’ downtown Minneapolis campus; her lecture starts at 7.

Too highbrow? Too indoors, sedentary? Too adult?

Renewable energy challenge

Renewable Energy Challenge

Another way education is poised to save the world: On Saturday, May 5, 24 teams of students will converge on the School of Environmental Studies in Apple Valley to participate in a renewable energy challenge. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the fourth- through 12th-graders will build wind turbines, which they will then test in 4-foot by 4-foot wind tunnels to determine how much electricity they generate.

It’s the second annual competition put on by the Minneapolis nonprofit High Tech Kids and the KidWind Project of St. Paul, a company that makes wind turbine kits and other renewable energy supplies for education. Other activities will be led by the University of Minnesota’s SheerWind, the Bakken Museum and Leonardo’s Basement. It’s free, open to the public and — drum roll please — takes place at the school located on the grounds of the Minnesota Zoo, 12155 Johnny Cake Ridge Road, Apple Valley.

Need something to do the following weekend during the governor’s fishing open? Besides fish, that is? Check out the family fun day being hosted by the local group Men of the Chalk.

I know what you’re thinking: “An entire organization of monks who are also sidewalk artists!” That’s my first reaction. And I was, as is often the case when I try to divine the contents of something without reading it, so wrong.

Boosting men in education

The Men of Chalk is an effort by male teachers to encourage young men to go into education, which is both difficult and very important to boys. The chalksters are hosting the day to raise money for school supplies for needy kids and to fund a scholarship for a male Waconia High School graduate who plans to go into education.

The event will start at 10 a.m. Saturday the 12th at Waconia’s Bayview Elementary with a run through a short obstacle course and a half-mile trail through the woods and back to the school rounds, where there also will be a dunk tank, bounce house and vendor fair. Runners can win prizes in categories such as best costume and first family to finish together.

A $10 entry fee gets runners who register by Friday, May 4, a water bottle. Registration forms can be found online. Or, if you aren’t worried about being guaranteed a water bottle you can simply show up and pay the fee on the spot.