Washburn High Principal Carol Markham-Cousins is ousted

Categories: Education
Markham-Cousins (left) is out after a six-year tenure as Washburn's principal.
Washburn High School Principal Carol Markham-Cousins will be changing jobs following a reassignment by the Minneapolis Public School District.

SEE ALSO: Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam results show dramatic racial disparity

According to a Southwest Journal report, Markham-Cousins was told this morning that her time as principal was up.

She sent this statement to the Journal:
"I was informed this morning by Minneapolis Public Schools Human Resources Director Rick Kreyer that I was being relieved of my assignment as the principal of Minneapolis Washburn High School. Mr. Kreyer gave me three choices: Resign, take a leave of absence, (or) accept a reassignment in Minneapolis Public Schools. Minneapolis Publics Schools Associate Superintendent Theresa Battle informed me this morning that this action taken by the district involving my work is not a disciplinarily action. At this time I have chosen to accept a reassignment in Minneapolis Public Schools."
Earlier this week, Washburn students made headlines after a couple hundred of them walked out of school in support of embattled Athletic Director Dan Pratt. Markham-Cousins opposed Pratt's drive to install a new $141,472 scoreboard on Washburn's football field.

Washburn was also in the news for the wrong reasons earlier this year when a black doll was found hanging from a noose in a school stairwell on January 11. We reported about the concerns some Washburn parents had regarding how Markham-Cousins and other Washburn administrators handled that incident.

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Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

This crisis of education is manifested in three levels of illiteracy: functional illiteracy, cultural illiteracy, and moral illiteracy. Typically, to say that a person is illiterate means that the person cannot read or write. But the word does have other senses. It is sometimes used of someone who is ignorant of the fundamentals of a particular art or area of knowledge. It is this broader meaning that is in view when, for example, we say that a person is musically illiterate. The word can also be used to describe a person who falls short of some expected standard of competence regarding some skill or body of information. In this last sense, a person who falls short of our commonly expected standard of competence in mathematics can be described as illiterate, even if he or she is quite competent in language skills.

Functional Illiteracy

The United States Department of Education estimates that functional illiteracy, incompetence in such basic functions as reading, writing, and mathematics, plagues 24 million Americans. Thirteen percent of American seventeen-year-olds are illiterate, according to a recent issue of Time; the estimate for minority youth is an astonishing forty percent.[1] Every year, at least a million of these functional illiterates graduate from America's high schools, the proud owners of meaningless diplomas.

Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

All I can say is that we home schooled.  We are athiest's.  My wife and I have advanced degrees.

Public Schools:  AKA Govenment Schools are, IMO a horrible place for your children.  Yet the Legistature want's more of the same - All Day Kindergarten, next the will want All Day PreSchool, etc.

Let's work towards Government getting out of the way for real education, as vouchers.  Goverment Schools are based on the 'factory' concept.   Want to send your children to a factory every day?  Do you care?

swmnguy topcommenter

Something weird is going on here.  There must be more to this behind the scenes.  The incident with the doll seemed to be handled the way the District wanted, which was to more or less allow the "activists" the opportunity to do whatever they wanted, knowing that would turn out to be...not much.  The current issue with the Athletic Director and the scoreboard should be pretty cut and dried.  Either he had authorization to get the thing and install it, or he didn't.  The handling of the student protests in support of the A.D. seems clumsy, but kids are melodramatic and it's hard to tell what's really the issue here.

The District has, unfortunately, as part of the overall corporate management model adopted the corporate lawyer-inspired communications policy, which is to not communicate until absolutely forced.  This appeals to lawyerly minds, and does serve the interests of employee and student privacy, but it also leaves communication at the mercy of rumor and hearsay, and automatically puts the District in a reactive mode everytime anything happens.

I've heard some Washburn parents are upset with the idea that all classes at Washburn are considered "Honors," so therefore none of them really are advanced.  I wonder if there hasn't been a steady drumbeat of criticism, and Markham-Cousins' handling of the doll incident wasn't ideal; and then there's this whatever-it-is with the A.D. and the scoreboard and the neighbors who complained and now the students are up in arms; so Dr. Johnson decided to take decisive and dramatic action now if only to put a stop to the controversy.

Too bad.  When we went to the Washburn Open House last year, we were quite impressed by the teachers, Dr. Markham-Cousins, the neighborhood, and the demographics of the students.  Leadership isn't easy, though, and it is the job of Principal.  When controversies won't go away, that goes to leadership.  It's just so rare to ever see a leader held accountable, it's easy to forget what it looks like.


One would think that as a principal Markham-Cousins would know how to properly spell princiPAL!


@East_Coast_Doug "All I can say is that we home schooled.  We are athiest's.  My wife and I have advanced degrees."

As evidenced by the fact that you don't know how to spell "atheist" or use an a
postrophe correctly.

MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@East_Coast_Doug Home schooled kids are weirdos.  Public schools are a way to meet all sorts of different people.  Exposure to new thoughts, ideas, and experiences are what make children smart and strong.   The problem with public schools is they don't have enough money or parental support.  I'm fairly certain Eden Prairie and Wayzata schools will give your children every chance to succeed.   Vouchers are just a scam to get religion into schools.  Private schools don't perform any better than public schools.  Public schools are forced to take everyone.  Private schools won't take a poor kid with learning disabilities. 

atrupar moderator

@bill.e.goat The SW Journal reporter contacted us and let us know the misspelling was an error he accidentally inserted in his copy, not part of the principal's original statement. We've corrected that in our post.

Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

I can tell you attended public schools - because you can't make a logical arguement - except to call names. 

When you say that "they don't have enough money" - we spend over twice as much money (in real dollars) that we did 30 years ago.  Money is not the answer.

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