MnWE News Spring Conference Issue
2023 Conference In Person and on Zoom at Saint Cloud State
Fri.-Sat., Mar. 31-Apr. 1, 2023
Learning Ecologies: Building, Improving, and Refining Pedagogy
for the Conference! Some
Hotels Already Filled--Reserve Soon!
REGISTRATION. HOTELS FILLING UP FAST!
1. Fri. Plenary: RE-ENVISIONING
DEVELOPMENTAL EDUCATION REFORMS
2. Sat. Plenary:
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AS A NECESSITY
3. Lunch Readers: NATIONALLY-AWARDED
AUTHORS MURA AND MEISSNER
Friday Entertainment: N.D. PHD ROCK BAND “AcaSheMia” + MNWE DINNER
Analysis: “MINNSTATE FATE OF DEVELOPMENTAL EDUCATION?”
Update: TENURE AND DEI RESTRICTIONS
7. Equity/Diversity Literary Resources
(in each issue)
8. Free Teaching/Learning
(in each issue)
9. About MnWE
(in each issue)
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MnWE News goes to over 2000 English and Writing faculty in
Minnesota and nearby parts of bordering states. Our next conference is
Fri.-Sat., Mar. 31-Apr. 1, 2023, with almost all events available
simultaneously in person at St. Cloud State University and on Zoom.
If you are a long-term member of this listserv, thank you for your
continuing participation. If you did not receive this newsletter directly
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CONFERENCE TIME! REGISTER EARLY TO SAVE $10. HOTELS ARE GOING FAST
BECAUSE OF SPORTS CONFERENCES THAT WEEKEND.
Join us for another great MnWE
Conference Fri.-Sat., Mar. 31- Apr. 1, at St. Cloud State University! Most
people this year are attending in person. Registration, plenaries,
readings, and lunch will be in the remodeled Atwood Center with three
periods of over twenty breakouts nearby each day. This year’s theme is “Learning
Ecologies: Building, Improving, and Refining Pedagogy.” All events are
in person and on Zoom simultaneously. Fees are lower than for most
similar conferences. We’d love to see you there! Save $10 by registering
by March 23. We also welcome registrations the week before, and during,
that lodging is going fast! We’re competing with two sports conferences in
town that weekend. Reserve early, and cancel or adjust as needed! Lodging
suggestions, driving directions, and a campus map—along with the general
schedule, “Guidelines for Presenters,” and plenary descriptions—are at
View Hotel Recommendations
1. Friday Plenary:
“It is widely
reported that the pandemic led to grim educational outcomes and
significant learning loss, exacerbating existing disparities among
students from under-resourced and marginalized communities. Researchers
state the urgency of addressing, through recovery and interventions, the
dire consequences of learning loss.
pandemic’s disproportionate impact on community college students at
MinnState and other colleges, it is time for us to reevaluate
developmental education reforms so that we can re-envision models
supported by sound research, centered on community needs, and validated by
educators. Only such reevaluation will meet the wide-ranging academic
needs of students from diverse backgrounds. Panelists will discuss current
debates in developmental education—particularly whether to keep standalone
remedial courses as options—in the context of post-pandemic community
Jiang, Plenary Organizer, MnWE Committee
MnWE Conference Plenaries
2. Saturday Plenary:
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AS A NECESSITY: Is
School Part of Community or Is Community Part of the School?”
“What does it
mean to have community engagement? This audience-oriented plenary will
discuss how and why schools are a part of community. During our 75
minutes, after the open discussion, the audience will be invited to
participate in a facilitated experience with the goal of expanding our
understanding and need for community engagement as we consider education
and equity as a whole."
—Carla-Elaine Johnson, Plenary Organizer, MnWE Committee
MnWE Conference Plenaries
3. Lunch Readers:
NATIONALLY-AWARDED AUTHORS MURA AND MEISSNER
MURA, a well-known Twin Cities author, will read from his
two recent books The Stories Whiteness
Tells Itself: Racial Myths and Our American Narratives and A
Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity & Narrative Craft in Writing, and
answer questions afterward. His two memoirs are Turning
Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei—a NY Times Notable Book—and
Where the Body Meets Memory. He also co-edited the anthology of
Minnesota BIPOC writers We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from
Minneapolis to the World, featured at a MnWE plenary last year with
David as one of the discussants. He recently won the Kay Sexton Award
for contributions to Minnesota literature and has received several
national honors. He has taught at
the University of Minnesota, Hamline University, St. Olaf College, The
Loft Literary Center, and the University of Oregon.
SATURDAY: BILL MEISSNER, a
well-awarded Minnesota author, will read from several of his books and
answer questions afterward. His most recently published novel is Summer
of Rain, Summer of Fire. His five collections of poetry include
American Compass, Learning to Breathe Underwater,
The Sleepwalker’s Son, Twin Sons of Different Mirrors, and
The Mapmaker’s Dream. His first novel, Spirits in the Grass,
won the Midwest Book Award. His three short story collections are Light
at the Edge of the Field, Hitting into the Wind, and
The Road to Cosmos. He also recently published a book of baseball
photography and writing, Circling Toward Home: Grassroots Baseball
Prose, Meditations, and Images. He is a Professor Emeritus of Creative
Writing at Saint Cloud State University, has won several additional
national and state awards for his creative writing, and continues to offer
workshops and readings.
Bill Meissner in Encyclopedia.com
4. Friday Entertainment:
N.D. PHD ROCK BAND “AcaSheMia” + MNWE DINNER
AcaSheMia Faculty Rock
Band: Join us Friday, 4:10-5 pm, to listen to what may be the only
English PhD rock band in the nation, “AcaSheMia.” In addition to
presenting a formal academic breakout at the conference, three of the
band’s Fargo-Moorhead area members will perform for 50 minutes Friday
afternoon before the MnWE Dinner. AcaSheMia are “creators
of feminist academic music” who take well known rock songs and reword them
with wit and wisdom to fit subjects
such as tenure woes, literature as a high, and other subjects consonant
with living the life of faculty.
The MnWE Dinner: Join us after
AcaSheMia’s performance for the annual MnWE Dinner, 5-6:15 pm, Friday
evening! We’ll be sitting down to a full complement with several options
in Atwood Center’s Cascade Room, where the plenaries and lunches also will
be held. This is a time for socializing with old friends and new. All are
welcome—sign up during the registration process (or ask at the
registration table if any seats still are available).
Registration and Dinner
5. Plenary Analysis: “MINNSTATE FATE OF
by John Schleuter, St. Paul
Editor’s Note: This article represents one of three viewpoints to be
presented at MnWE’s Friday Plenary on Developmental Education.
For the last decade, more
colleges and state systems have been “reforming” developmental education,
much of it focusing on eliminating standalone remedial courses in English
and Math. The dominant narrative is that such classes are a barrier
largely affecting underprivileged students because many who begin these
classes fail to go on to enroll in and complete college level
courses. This push to eliminate now has reached Minnesota.
In 2018 MinnState rolled out a
Developmental Education Strategic Roadmap
(DESR) for schools. This roadmap offered schools some leeway to decide
what works best for their students—populations that differ widely across
the state (not to mention the nation). To be sure, the roadmap laid out a
variety of guiding principles: e.g., accelerated course options, alignment
of learning outcomes across the state, and multiple-measures placement.
But, in early January, an email
from the system office trickled down to faculty, mandating, “All
developmental education coursework will be in a corequisite format tied to
a college level course by Fall 2026.” This means the outright elimination
of standalone remedial courses in English and Math in favor of corequisite
coursework only (i.e., a combined college-level and remedial class at the
The process for this decision is
not entirely clear. Apparently, a “Leadership Action Team” was assembled
of presidents from MinnState colleges and universities. This team was
given national and system-specific data, and then made recommendations to
the Chancellor, who then directed elimination of standalone developmental
education courses by 2026. This comes on the heels of another MinnState
directive to eliminate placement tests at community colleges. Framed as
another barrier, traditional placement practices have given way to
versions of “guided self-placement,” in which students may place
themselves in college-level classes. Both of these mandates have rendered
the 2018 DESR null and void, and an initial spirit of cooperation between
the MinnState offices and their colleges has given way to top-down,
Proponents of eliminating
standalone remedial courses point to large increases in the numbers of
students, especially those of color, who take and pass college level or
corequisite English and Math courses and avoid standalone remedial
courses. However, basically, this just means that the barrier for these
students is not the coursework crafted by expert teachers—it is the
time it takes the students to complete these courses. The additional
sequential standalone remedial coursework simply provides more “exit
points” for students to drop out.
Unfortunately, all of these “exit
points” and more still will occur during the rest of students’ programs or
degrees. Therefore, the goal should not be to eliminate such exit points
by eliminating courses. Rather, it should be to “plug” or bridge exits
throughout a student’s program or degree. Standalone developmental
education courses can and should be part of that strategy.
In fact, the same data as above
also show that eliminating standalone remedial coursework does not
improve graduation and completion rates—and, depending on the study, even
may hurt them. In other words, research demonstrates we could keep the
standalone remedial courses and still see the same or possibly better
graduation and program-completion rates.
Now, one may say that if a skills
course can be eliminated without negatively affecting graduation rates,
then why not do it? The answer is that we should keep standalone
coursework because data exist that indicate those who are able to persist
in, and complete, remedial coursework may graduate and transfer at higher
rates than those who took corequisite classes alone. Given this, the goal
should be to offer students as much support as possible to persist and
complete coursework, and not to eliminate standalone courses, which also
eliminates sufficient time for students to work with dedicated
developmental education faculty.
In other words,
completing all of a degree or program cannot be done in one semester. At
some point, in order to complete their educational goals, students must
figure out how to keep going to school. This is why removing remedial
coursework is simply an intra-institutional passing of the buck. No one,
in fact, has studied or tracked what happens to those students who fail
their corequisite developmental education courses. And graduation rates
suggest, as above, that even some who do pass corequisite courses drop out
at later exit points.
Instead of working to find real
solutions that help students figure out how to stay in school, this new
developmental education “reform” simply gives some students a head start
on falling into a difficult hole they are less equipped to overcome than
if they had taken standalone remedial coursework in the first place.
Corequisite courses may work for some students. However, standalone
developmental education still remains the best solution for others.
Editor’s Afterword: Steven Rosenstone, MnSCU’s 2011-2017
Chancellor, said in a business magazine interview, “If you are not on
track [for college], we want to start moving all of that remedial
education back into high school.” Getting rid of standalone courses, small
in class size, likely saves money for MinnState. However, the state’s MMB
office (Minnesota Management and Budget) reported in 2018 that equity also
must be a consideration in cost-benefit analysis of higher education. In
parallel with Schleuter’s article, above, excising standalone English and
Math remedial courses may hurt, rather than help, equity.
MinnState (MnSCU) 2018 Developmental Education Strategic Roadmap
Steven Rosenstone Interview, 2020
MMB 2018 Higher Education Report Executive Summary
Update: TENURE AND DEI
RESTRICTIONS FOR FLORIDA?
According to a March 5 article in the Washington Post, “Florida
bills would...erode tenure” and forbid some DEI activities and
teaching in Florida higher education.
The bills, says the Post, are likely
to pass and be signed by Governor Ron DeSantis.
bill “outlaws spending on diversity,
equity and inclusion programs, says a professor’s tenure can come
under review at any time and gives boards of trustees—typically
appointed by the governor or Board of Governors—control of faculty
hiring and curriculum review.”
The bill also eliminates college
majors and minors in “Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, or
Intersectionality.” It also requires colleges to offer general education
courses that “’promote the philosophical underpinnings of Western
civilization and include studies of this nation’s historical documents’
including the Constitution and the Federalist Papers [to] ensure...higher
education...focuse[s] on legitimate fields...rather than disciplines ‘not
based in fact.’
“‘It’s a complete takeover,...’
said Kenneth Nunn, [former] professor of law at the University of
Florida.... The ‘attacks’ on higher education ‘reduce the reputation and
perhaps the accreditation of the state institutions.’ Pen America, which
advocates for free speech, said the bill would impose ‘perhaps the most
draconian and censorious restrictions on public colleges and universities
in the country.’”
Washington Post article Mar. 3, 2023
7. Equity Literary
What diversity books might you or your students enjoy for
reading and researching?
Graphic Novels and Diversity:
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Minnesota Writing & English
David Beard, UMD
Advisor, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Mary Ellen Daniloff-Merrill,
SMSU Advisor, Southwest Minn. State Univ.
Judith Dorn, 2023 Site
Coordinator, St. Cloud State University
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Connection Coord., Mn. State U.-Mankato
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Richard Jewell, Co-founder & Gen. Coord., Inver Hills Coll. (Emeritus)
Yanmei Jiang, Plenary
Coordinator, Century College
Carla-Elaine Johnson, Plenary
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Eric Mein, 2024 Site
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