Insight News

Feb 11th

Michael Walker heads Minneapolis Public Schools Black Male Student Achievement initiative

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walkerDr. Bernadeia Johnson, superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), has selected Michael Walker as the director of the Office of Black Male Student Achievement, effective July 28.

Walker is a longtime MPS employee, having held multiple roles at Roosevelt High School since 1999. In his new position, Walker will report to CEO Michael Goar and lead efforts on behalf of the school district to eliminate the achievement gap between Black, male students and their MPS peers.

"The current academic performance statistics for our Black, male students here in Minneapolis are unacceptable. We simply must do better," said Johnson. "This office is one I have long pushed for, and I am glad it has finally become a reality. Together with CEO Goar, I am optimistic that Mr. Walker will support positive outcomes for our Black, male students."

Goar said, "Mr. Walker's history of working with young people as a coach and mentor will allow him to thrive in this new role. I share the superintendent's excitement about having Mr. Walker on board, and I am eager to get started on the important work that lies ahead."

The Office of Black Male Student Achievement is a new department created specifically to address the needs of the largest demographic group within MPS. According to the district, it represents an equitable approach to tackling the challenges that exist for the school district's Black, male students. Some of the stated goals for the department and the young, Black men it will serve include reducing chronic absenteeism, remedying the disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates, raising persistently low graduation rates and increasing the number of students in advanced placement and honors courses.

"Words cannot express my gratitude to Dr. Johnson and CEO Goar for this opportunity," said Walker. "I am truly humbled by the selection and will work each day to justify the faith they have shown in me. I have made it my life's work to help young people and prepare them for the future. This role will allow me to continue that work and partner with community members and organizations similarly dedicated to assisting those students who need the most support right now."

Supporters of Walker say in his new role, Walker will bring a career focus on youth development and helping Black youth achieve success. Walker earned his undergraduate degree in physical education from Southwest Minnesota State University and his master's degree in education from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. From 1998 to 2006, Walker served as community outreach, program and youth development director at the YMCA of Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis, where he developed programs for social, academic, athletic and employment skills for youth and served as the coordinator of the Black Achievers program, an academic achievement and career development initiative for middle school and high school youth and teens. Walker worked as a career and college coordinator for AchieveMpls at Roosevelt High School from 2006 to 2009 before serving Minneapolis Public Schools as Roosevelt's dean of students from 2009 to 2011 and assistant principal from 2011 to the present.

Walker is a product of MPS, having attended Holland Elementary, Franklin and Sanford middle schools and Roosevelt High School. He and his wife have three children, two of whom are school-age and attend MPS.

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