Abdul Abdi, a parent of students in the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), ran unopposed for the Northeast District 1 seat on the MPS Board of Education this winter and started his service on the nine-seat board January 3, 2023.
Abdi has lived in Northeast Minneapolis with his family for 16 years. His day job is software architect for the State of Minnesota.
Abdi has five kids in Minneapolis schools. One attends Northeast Middle School, the youngest is at Pillsbury Community School and the three oldest attend Edison High School. His oldest will graduate this year. He has been a regularly involved parent in his kids’ schools for over a decade.
“All of my kids have been active members of the community,” Abdi said.
For the last four years, Abdi has held a position on the Minneapolis School District Parents’ Advisory Council. Parents and teachers addressed topics of teacher retention and pay, student enrollment and school budget cuts this last year. These topics are not unique to Minneapolis and are problems being addressed around the country.
“Over the last ten years, I’ve spoken at a number of community meetings, advising district leaders on how to improve education, reach out to families and students who live in the school district but attend schools elsewhere, and increase parent involvement in their children’s schools as a volunteer parent,” Abdi said.
Parents had contacted him over the last year, asking Abdi to join the school board, knowing his current involvement with the district. “I think it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s something that needs to be done,” Abdi said. “I want to be a presence for our neighbors. I would like to be the voice of this area.”
“I want to bring good teachers to our district and advocate for that because we need to also be a good employer to our teachers, and keep them as well,” Abdi said.
Minneapolis teachers held a strike early last year, requesting higher pay and more support from the school board when addressing student well-being issues. The public schools’ budgets will become tighter in 2023. The Minneapolis School Board is also searching for a new superintendent, whom the board intends to hire this year. At multiple Minneapolis School Board Committee meetings, parents and teachers have stood up to speak on their concerns about who will be chosen and say they want to see someone who takes action on the community’s requests.
Minneapolis schools have had lower test scores and graduation rates than the surrounding areas over the last decade. One of Abdi’s priorities on the board is to increase graduation rates for Minneapolis students. In addition, he has a plan to speak up on the district’s duty of preparing students for their future careers by giving teachers the material to help students have the opportunity to attend a four-year or technical college.
Abdi will host a community gathering at Edison High School or the Northeast Library early this year with retiring school board member Jenny Arneson. This will allow him to hear directly from the community about what they are looking for from the school board.
“I really believe public school is the bread and the center of our community,” Abdi said. “All of our neighbors attend these schools and that’s where kids grow and get to know their neighbors—get involved and become active members of society.”
Abdul Abdi in front of Edison High School, where three of his children attend. (Photo by Drew Arrieta, Sahan Journal. Used with permission)