Michael Walker was selected as the Director of the Office of Black Male Student Achievement to lead efforts on behalf of the school district to eliminate the achievement gap between black male students and their MPS peers.
Mr. Walker’s history of working with young people as a coach and mentor will allow him to thrive in this new role.
The Office of Black Male Student Achievement is a new department created specifically to address the needs of the largest demographic group within MPS. 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.
Walker brings a career focus on youth development and helping black youth achieve success. He 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.
The degree to which racial disparities continue to persist in MPS is unacceptable. Native-born African American males consistently perform at or near the bottom on nearly all performance indicators in MPS. We must focus on supporting black male students in more aggressive and effective ways.
Walker is quick to note that his first job will be outreach. “We need to be engaging the community broader stakeholders,” he says. “I need to connect with black fraternities, churches — to have some extensive community engagement.
“We need to start talking to students as well,” he adds. “The one thing I don’t want to do is go out and start up initiatives and programs without talking to youth.”
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