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Continued: Minneapolis Washburn students use Facebook for change

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 20, 2013 - 7:38 AM

That evening, Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson told the board that she was reassigning Markham-Cousins.

Facebook wasn’t everything

But Facebook and three days of protest weren’t the only agents of change. Some parents have been working back channels for several years to press their concerns about Markham-Cousins, a veteran educator known for her dedication to disadvantaged students. They have lobbied board members to increase academic rigor at the school. Earlier this year, they got the ear of key board members and a session with Johnson that resulted in a directive that the school will add several selective, more rigorous courses.

Although the protests sped the ouster of Markham-Cousins, backers of Dan Pratt appear to have lost the battle to keep him as athletic director. He reportedly was told last week he’s being reassigned to full-time duties as a physical education teacher next year in the wake of questions over whether he followed proper procedures in trying to replace the school’s stadium scoreboard. An investigation continues but no discipline has been imposed, the district said.

Meanwhile, Simpson waits to see if a threat to strip him of National Honor Society membership for the protest actually materializes. He’s headed for Macalester College in St. Paul, where he says he’ll put math and science ahead of Division 3 soccer. Whiting heads to University of Northern Iowa with a track and football scholarship, to study political science and law.

Washburn students will finish out the year with an interim principal, Craig Vana, and some bruised feelings.

Students active in the arts protested this week that their voices hadn’t been heard in replacing a principal who invigorated theater, music and other arts programs.

“So many people were excited after Thursday and a lot of people were very sad. There was that huge difference,” Simpson said.


Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438 Twitter: @brandtstrib


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  • Jamison Whiting, left, and Ben Simpson, both popular athletes at Washburn High School in Minneapolis, mounted a Facebook campaign to keep athletic director Dan Pratt from being fired. After three days of protests, their efforts led to Principal Carol Markham-Cousins being reassigned instead.

  • Students poured out of Washburn High School April 8 in support of athletic director Dan Pratt. They gathered on the synthetic turf field that Pratt and others raised money to buy and install. “We’ve got quite a group of kids,” said Jamison Whiting, a senior four-sport athlete.

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