MnWE Website                  MnWE News Home Page



MnWE News Late Summer Issue
July-August 2023
In this issue:  

    1.  What did the Fri. Conf. Plenary say? STANDALONE DEV ED USEFUL



    4.  Equity/Diversity Literary Resources (in each issue)

    5.  Free Teaching/Learning E-Newsletters (in each issue)

    6.  About MnWE (in each issue)

      If you are new to our listserv, welcome! We never share your address, and you always may unsubscribe at the bottom of any email. Click here if you wish to
view this or previous issues in your browser. MnWE News goes to over 2000 English and Writing faculty in Minnesota and nearby parts of bordering states. Our next conference is in Spring 2024 at Normandale College with almost all events available simultaneously in person 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 and want to see it six times per year, join us by sending a request to the editor at 
jeweLØØ1 at (Change “at” to“@.” We suggest you give us a permanent email.

      The MnWE Listserv and the MinnState English Discipline Listserv are the same, with MnWE as the moderator. If you would like to send an announcement to English colleagues, please email it to the editor, as above, marked as an announcement for the listserv. You may send relevant announcements whether you are a member of MinnState or of another school or system.

1. What did the Fri. Plenary say? STATS ARGUE STANDALONE DEV ED USEFUL
by Danielle Hinrichs

      The MnWE Conference offers two plenaries each year. Friday’s Plenary was “Re-envisioning Developmental Education Reforms.” The speakers were Yanmei Jiang, Century College; John Schleuter, Saint Paul College; and Alex M. Goudas, Delta College. (Jesse Mason, MinnState, was unable to attend.) The three speakers explored what the statistics suggest regarding keeping   or jettisoning English developmental education.


     Developmental education courses in Minnesota are those taught mostly in MinnState’s two-year colleges with no college credit attached. MinnState administration recently decided that no “standalone” dev ed courses will be taught after 2026, and only dev ed combined in a “corequisite” model with a for-credit class will be allowed.

      On the one hand, these administrators and others argue that the corequisite model alone is a great equalizer giving dev ed students access to college-level courses right away, thus increasing the possibility of finishing a program or transferring to a four-year college) sooner. On the other hand, said all three Dev Ed panelists—as experienced researchers and dev ed teachers—individual student experiences and widespread research studies demonstrate a continuing need for noncredit standalone dev ed to be taught, even as the corequisite model also is used.

      Yanmei Jiang began the plenary by describing her college’s Express English program, a corequisite model with no remaining standalone dev ed courses. In its beginning, it included only students close to the cut-off for college-level English, with standalone courses for lower-testing students, with the result that the promise of the corequisite model seemed to be realized. However, over time, students with much lower academic ability began being placed in the corequisite model.

      As a result, especially in the context of the pandemic, students in particular who struggle with economic instability did not succeed in the corequisite model and left higher education. These students, said Jiang, easily might be dismissed as minor numbers in the research data, but they are important people with dreams and contributions to colleges and communities. In solidarity with the students who weren’t served by the corequisite model, all three panelists argued, we need to consider the benefits of standalone dev ed courses to make sure we support the success of all of our students.

      John Schlueter argued that socioeconomic inequity, and not a particular model of dev ed, is the root cause of students struggling to stay in college in their first two to three semesters. To improve retention and success, he said, schools should focus on mitigating socioeconomic inequality by investing in assistance for tuition, books, transportation, and better access to counseling, technology, and advising. He argued for robust support throughout the lifecycle of the student, not just at the beginning and pointed at longer-term studies (of more semesters) showing the problem exists for students in the corequisite model, as well.

      He said that unfortunately, a belief is common, now. that the standalone dev ed curricula cause students to leave after a semester or two—and an attractive belief, as well, because it suggests that if we just get rid of standalones, we can close this gap. Truthfully, though, he added, schools cannot eliminate the gap without broader social changes, such as economic reform and reparations. We can move the needle only by focusing on the root cause: socioeconomic inequality. Eliminating standalone dev ed courses actually decreases the amount of time students spend with dedicated faculty, thus not moving the needle for them in the long run as much as we could have by letting them take standalone dev ed.

      Alexandros Goudas explained that when we look at lower outcomes for certain students, we assume that the cause must be the course they are taking. That first course usually is in dev ed, so dev ed is blamed. However, the real barrier is the first course, no matter what it is. Goudas explained that even the researcher cited in all efforts to get rid of standalone courses or eliminate all dev ed, Dr. Tom Bailey, has said, himself, that his research does not advocate for the elimination of dev ed or a wholesale shift to a corequisite model.

      Indeed, Goudas emphasized, if you include both transfer and graduation as successful outcomes, then after three years, there is no statistical difference between the success of corequisite and standalone groups. In addition, Dev ed English and Math courses present no greater obstacle to overall completion than gatekeeper, non-dev ed courses like Biology 101. National Student Clearing House data show that at community colleges, 25% of students leave after first year no matter which courses are offered, no matter which year. The attrition is very consistent, so thinking that it is caused by one specific type of course, dev ed, in the first semester of college is a very narrow view that confuses correlation with causation.

      All three panelists concluded that the MinnState system (and other schools) should not focus on eliminating or changing one course—standalone dev ed. Instead, they said, the solutions for problems of student attrition in the first year of college need to address larger issues and keep standalone dev ed as an important option for supporting students who need it.
Goudas’ Slides and Data from MnWE presentation, along with Other Researchers’ Works on Maintaining Standalone Dev Ed:
CAPR Website (against Standalone Dev Ed):

by Alison Bertolini, North Dakota State University

     Why assign racial literacy works and activities in graduate and upper-division undergraduate courses? How do they best work?

      I assigned a new text about racial literacy in fall of 2022 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in nearby Minneapolis. Shortly after, American citizens started seeing firsthand


how age, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, legal status, and other identity characteristics contributed to poor outcomes and increased mortality rates for certain segments of the population during the Covid-19 pandemic (WHO).
      The text, Advancing Racial Literacies in Teacher Education by Price-Dennis and Sealy-Ruiz, is short and readable, and encourages teachers to position equity as a central tenant of classroom instruction. Its professed focus is equity in digital spaces, but the framework can be applied in most pedagogical circumstances.

      I used it in North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) Graduate Scholarship course in English, which introduces graduate students to professional standards in literature, rhetoric, and writing. The course also provides opportunities for discussion of racial inequities in education and beyond, to prepare graduate students, many of whom will go on to be teachers themselves, to lead racially literate classrooms. 

      The text asked Graduate Scholarship students to discuss the importance of assigning diverse content, creating assignments that deliberately explore intersectional identity, and fostering conversations about racial inequities within the educational system and beyond. Our work was grounded in the idea that we must be continually and consistently self-reflexive, to reduce our own potential bias and prejudicial beliefs about others (Kishimoto; Price-Dennis 72). Here I briefly recap important topics of discussion that easily can be built into other first-year graduate courses.

Reading Materials

      Reading materials written by diverse authors are important for two primary reasons: first for exposing students to points of view that might fall outside of their own experience and so provide a window into ways of thinking that differ from their own; and second, for authentically representing nondominant cultures in the assigned literature, thus validating the experiences of students from those cultures and encouraging them to share important aspects of themselves with classmates.


      One classroom exercise I’ve devised to overturn misguided assumptions such as the “bootstraps myth,” and to get students thinking about stereotypes within education, requires students to consider “Why might children from low-income families do poorly in school?” Students discuss how socioeconomic status can influence student success and perpetuate cycles of poverty, listing factors such as “limited access to books/libraries/internet, “food scarcity,” and “having to work to contribute to family income.”

      The exercise paves the way for more difficult conversations about systemic imbalances. For example, studies show that compared with White students, Black students in K-12 are more likely to be suspended or expelled, less likely to be placed in gifted programs, and subject to lower expectations by their teachers (Weir).

Much of this treatment can be caused by the implicit bias of educators. This returns us to discussions about the importance of constantly reevaluating our own ethics and beliefs, as well as finding other ways to productively identify and shift inequalities.

      Graduate students are eager to include assignments that promote racial literacy in their own classrooms. While such assignments must be course-specific, composition teachers might assign writing activities that encourage undergraduates to investigate their own intersectional identities or family histories. Essay assignments might include a remembered event, a remembered person, or a profile, to allow individual experiences to be highlighted.


We can further facilitate inclusion and respect by “providing a space in the curriculum for students to explore questions that are significant in their lives and address issues connected to race and equity” (Price-Dennis 80). In other words, fostering difficult conversations in a safe and supportive environment can model and teach students how they might do the same in their own future classrooms or careers. Price-Dennis and Sealy-Ruiz stress the importance of emotional intelligence when engaging in such discussions (93, 103), including learning how to name and process feelings, and how to hear perspectives that challenge our life experiences (93). Such introspective work can last a lifetime as our thoughts and perspectives continue to evolve.

      Advancing racial literacy is not simply about including diverse content in our courses (although that is one piece of the puzzle) but is also about how we approach teaching that content—awareness of our own biases, willingness to listen to the experiences of others without judgment, and comfort with addressing how racism is systemic. The techniques described here can encourage graduate and undergraduate students alike to cultivate productive methods for equitable change within their own careers.

This article has been adapted from a presentation at MnWE 2023.

Works Cited:

Kishimoto, Kyoko. “Anti-racist Pedagogy.” Race Ethnicity and Education, 2018.

Price-Dennis, Detra and Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz. Advancing Racial Literacies in Teacher Education, Teachers College P, 2021.

Weir, Kirsten. “Inequality at School.” APA, Nov. 2016.

WHO. “Promoting a Fair and Equitable Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic,” 2023.


      School is starting. More cultural mixes are happening on campus, and individual names are becoming ever more creative. What and how should you call people?
      The Chronicle’s free, weekly, online newsletter Race on Campus paraphrases Prince George’s Community College professor of communication Clover M. Baker-Brown in its April


12 issue: “People’s names are tied to their cultural dentity. Learning how to pronounce someone’s name is the first of many steps that one can take to convey respect. It also makes students feel more comfortable and fosters a more inclusive learning environment.”
      Some say that mispronouncing a student’s name repeatedly is a microaggression. However, saying it right often has an opposite, very positive effect. I remember when I joined Boy Scouts and the middle-aged Scoutmaster asked me what name I wanted to use. I said, “Everyone calls me ‘Ricky.’” He gave me a look, then said, “What do you want to be called?” I paused–it was a looming question to which I’d given much thought–then said, “Rick.” From that day on, in Scouts and school, that’s who I became. Just that little change made a big difference in my respect for him and my resulting positive, lifechanging Scouting experience. Names matter, even if they are mispronounced once or twice by a dominant culture—or, unfortunately, never said at all.
      Here are some positive suggestions from Race on Campus about calling students by name:

Examine class rolls beforehand: learn how to pronounce each name.
(1) If possible, don’t mispronounce someone’s name, especially more than once or twice: it makes you look unqualified to teach and culturally irrelevant.

(2) Use online searches. In classroom platforms like Zoom, direct students to show both a normal and a phonetic pronunciation of their name. In any class, if someone gets another student’s name wrong, add a sentence of your own that is related to the content of the discussion, and gently throw in a correction of the name.

(3) Ask, ask, and ask. Say hello to each student individually during your first few minutes of the term’s classroom, and ask them then for guidance on any pronunciation you haven’t yet figured out. Wherever you’re at with a student’s name now, it’s not too late to ask.

(4) Have students introduce themselves one by one to the rest of the class, stating their name clearly, and take your own notes on any student’s name you don’t yet know how to pronounce.

(5) Practice. Repeat each name until you get it right so that saying the name becomes second nature.
      The name you don’t use may be the student you lose. It seems a small detail, but to the individual, it signifies your respect and, more important, it shows you really care.
More resources from Race on Campus:

Hispanic Students at Your College
Want to Value Your Chinese Students?
Hundreds of Stories, Families, and Hopes at One Commencement
 Diversity Books: What might you or your students enjoy reading and researching?


50 Top Asian American Literary Books
Time's 25 Asian-Am. Celebrate
MN Hum. Center’s BIPOC Resources

Wikipedia Asian-Amer. Lit., Writer List
2000+ Books on Asian American Lit
85 AAPI Novels  Angel's 60+



44 Best Black Books–
30 Top Black Literary Books
MN Black Children's Bks.–Strive Publ.
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

Wikipedia African-Amer. Lit., Writer List
41 Black Fiction Classics–B & N
700+ Black Books–
Black Graphic Novels and Comics


Indigenous/Native American:

50 Native American Bestseller Books
32 Native American Authors
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

WikipediaNative-Amer. Lit., Writer List
Minn. Hist. Society Native-Amer. Books
Indigenous Graphic Literature



Latinx Writers’ 14 Recommended Bks.
10 Latinx
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

WikipediaLatinx LiteratureWriter List
2000+ Latinx Books–
Latinx Graphic Novels



25 Best Classics
40+ LGBTQIA Gay Fiction & Lit Bks.
50 Bestsellers

Wikipedia: LGBTQ General, Writer List
1000+ in Multiple Genres
LGBTQ Graphic Lit:
Bestsellers  800+

Graphic Novels Offering Diversity:

NCTE: "Diversity in Graphic Novels"
"In Defense of Graphic Novels"
"100 Fav. Comics/Graphic Novels"

Social Justice Graphic Novels (All Ages)
Best Graphic Novels of All Time
Top 10 Literary Graphic Novels


5. Free Teaching/Learning E-Newsletters
(in each issue)

      Do you want to be more in touch with colleagues nationally, or seek ideas from other networks? Connect by subscribing to one of these free email newsletters. You may start or stop a subscription at any time. Go to each link below to find more about the e-newsletter and instructions for subscribing. (You won’t be subscribed by clicking on the links below.)

NEA HigherEd, National Education Association. Weekly political and labor news update:

Subscribe           Sample

Race on Campus from Chronicle of Higher Education. Weekly briefs and information:
Sample and Free Subscription

Diversity Insider
, National Education Assoc. Weekly news, essays, and advice:

Subscribe           Sample

The Source: Updates, MLA Style Center. Weekly pedagogy and readings updates:

Subscribe (scroll to bottom)   Sample        Other free Style Center e-letters
          Always available online, the Style Center’s
"Works Cited: A Quick Guide"

Teaching from Chronicle of Higher Education. Weekly brief advice on general methods:

Subscribe           Samples      

The Campus View, Minnesota Private Colleges (17 colleges). Monthly private college news:

Subscribe             Past issues
6. About MnWE: Previous Issues, Joining, Who We Are, Writing a Book Review or
    Article, Grad Credit, Unsubscribing
 (in each issue)

More Online-Teaching Resources: See
Our Newsletters: For new and old issues,
MnWE News.
Forwarding/Joining: Please forward this email to other interested faculty and administrators. Your newer full-time and adjunct faculty members, graduate students, undergraduate majors, writing center tutors, and English and writing administrators may not receive it. 
      If you are not on the listserv and would like to join it, simply send your request and email address to jeweLØØ1 at umn dot edu. We always enjoy signing up new list members.

Who are we? “MnWE” is “Minnesota Writing and English,” a listserv of over 2000 (the “English Discipline Listserv), and an all-volunteer organization started in 2007. MnWE offers an annual, two-day, spring conference attended by 100-200 faculty and students. Our main coordinating committee, which meets about ten times per year, is composed entirely of unpaid college, university, high school, and other professional and graduate student English/writing volunteers. 

      Who is MnWE’s audience? All activities are by and for college, university, and college-in-the-high-schools English and writing faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and related academic and literary scholars, tutors, publishers, authors, and others in the Upper Midwest and beyond. Our purpose is to bring together these communities in Minnesota and in the parts of bordering states and provinces within driving distance of Minnesota.

Where are we? Please visit us online at Our geographical center is Minneapolis-St. Paul. Over 2000 faculty, graduate students, tutors, and related administrators receive our emails, and forwards go to an additional hundreds of colleagues and students. Those on our listserv receive this newsletter six times per year, along with additional conference announcements and occasional helpful information. Our listserv members come from state universities, public and private two-year colleges, private colleges and universities, high schools, and the public universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and other schools and locations in the United States, Canada, and overseas.
Conference: At our annual, two-day conferences, our daily panel of plenary speakers highlights pedagogical concerns by scholars and writers of national excellence from local and regional schools and professional organizations. In our twenty or more breakouts in several time periods each day, discussants come from universities, colleges, high schools from the Upper Midwest, the U.S., and sometimes from other countries. All are welcome.
Book Reviews and Articles: Write a book review or article for us! We publish a review in most issues and are reaching out to find more article authors..

      A typical (though not required) book-review pattern for 400-600 words is an interesting introduction (creative, interrogative, anecdotal, controversial, or ?); one section each describing the book, its arguments/ implications, and your own evaluations; and a brief conclusion. Also helpful (but not required) are statements of awards, links to related sites for the book, and its possible use for teaching.

      For articles, anything goes if you first work it out with the editor. Your article/essay then is edited gently and minimally for length (400-600 w. preferred) and reader appeal with your final revision and approval before publication.
Graduate Credit: Anyone may earn one graduate credit from Southwest Minnesota State University for attending a MnWE Conference day and writing a related research paper (up to three such credits may be earned). For questions about this course–“Eng 656: MnWE Practicum”–please contact lisa dot lucas at smsu dot edu or see

: To unsubscribe from this listserv (and no longer receive the MnWE News, MnWE Conference announcements, and other forwarded information), please do so yourself, following directions at the very bottom of this email.  If you try unsubscribing on your own without success, then send an email to jeweLØØ1 at umn dot edu indicating (1) your unsubscribing action that didn’t work, (2) your specific email address copied from the directions at the bottom of a MnWE mailing, and (3) your request for removal.
Formatting: Each of these listserv emails usually is formatted in a relatively simple way using html. If you cannot read it, please click on the link at the top of this email to see the newsletter on the Web.

: We invite you to email the editor or a coordinator on the MnWE Committee listed below. You also are always invited to attend any of our ten or more MnWE Committee meetings per year. To join the listserv, email Richard at jeweLØØ1 at umn dot edu. If you’d like to join the committee for our online Zoom meetings or simply attend a few meetings to observe, please ask Richard to add you to the Committee list for dates and times of meetings. In addition, you always are invited to offer suggestions to MnWE, or to volunteer your leadership for forming a breakout session at the annual conference. 

Copyright: This newsletter is written primarily by MnWE News editor Richard Jewell without copyright so that anyone may quote, paraphrase, or forward any or all parts freely, unless otherwise noted. Articles written by others are credited, and those articles are copyrighted. We do ask that you give credit to the MnWE News and/or; and when you use material that has been quoted or paraphrased in this newsletter from another source, please be sure to give proper credit to the original source. 

Richard Jewell, Editor

MnWE News   
Pronouns: He, him, they, them (Why it matters)

Minnesota Writing & English

MnWE Coordination:
Julie Daniels, Program Editor, Century College
Mary Ellen Daniloff-Merrill, SMSU Advisor, Southwest Minn. State Univ.
Judith Dorn, 2023 Site Coordinator, Saint Cloud State University
Abi Duly, H.S. Faculty Advisor, New London-Spicer Schools
Gene Gazelka, Web Docs Coordinator, North Hennepin Community Coll.
Ed Hahn, Web and Registration Coordinator, North Hennepin Coll.
Ryuto Hashimoto, Undergr. Connection Coord., Mn. State U.-Mankato
Danielle Hinrichs, Program/Conf. Coordinator, Metropolitan State Univ.
Richard Jewell, Co-founder & Gen. Coord., Inver Hills Coll. (Emeritus)
Yanmei Jiang, 2023 Plenary Coordinator, Century College
Carla-Elaine Johnson, 2023 Plenary Coordinator, Saint Paul College
Eric Mein, 2024 Site Host Coordinator, Normandale College
Gordon Pueschner, Secretary & Conf. Floor Manager, Century College
Jonathan Reeves, Century College
Donald Ross, Co-founder, Univ. of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Emeritus)
Larry Sklaney, Conference & Cost Center Coordinator, Century College

MnWE Journal Coeditors:
    David Beard, University of Minnesota-Duluth,
dbeard at
    Yanmei Jiang, Century College
    John Schlueter, Saint Paul College

danielle.hinrichs at - (651) 999-5960
jeweL001 at (zero zero one) - (612) 870-7024
larry.sklaney at - (612) 735-4954

MnWE .org
Minnesota Writing & English
A Consortium of Colleges & Universities

Join us on  



Format updated 5 Oct. 2022