Interdistrict Downtown School
Students work on a human rights project.
At the Interdistrict Downtown School (IDDS), students in grades 6-12 have many opportunities for investigating a variety of topics.  Through the exploratory course option, many 6th and 7th graders select the "Human Rights" class for a semester.  In this course, students are encouraged to discuss and investigate human rights as presented in current events and unit activities.  As students progress through middle school into high school, they have numerous opportunities in several of their core classes to explore civil and human rights.  In social studies, students investigate civil and human rights in the context of history: Brown vs. the Board of Education (1954), the study of the U.S. Constitution, and cultures and histories of the nations of the world are just a few examples.  In language arts, students in grades 7-9 investigate the topics of being homeless and racial prejudice through reading novels with those themes.  At the conclusion of these units, students participate in class acitivities, such as organizing fundraisers and food drives for local food shelves.  In the upper grades of the high school, there is a transition from language arts into urban humanities.  The course work becomes more student driven, with students taking more responsibility for initiating and completing tasks.  Several units for upper secondary student studies offer civil and human rights themes.  In addition to their coursework, each spring the 11th grade class participates in a housing
Stephanie Davies and students
project for Habitat for Humanity.

Interdistrict Downtown School (IDDS)
10 S. Tenth St.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

The Mission:
"To prepare students to excel in the 21st century by enabling them to achieve high academic, technological and social goals through quality intercultural education."

The School:
The Interdistrict Downtown School opened in 1998 as a result of a successful anti-segregation lawsuit of the NAACP against Hennepin County. A project of the West Metro Education Program, the school draws children from ten school districts and strives for ethnic and economic diversity among its students. Teachers are reaching students with innovative approaches to learning; hands-on and technology-based learning is encouraged. With 500 students from kindergarten to twelfth grade, and a unique site in downtown Minneapolis, the school is building a sense of community both within and outside of the classroom.

Teachers involved:

  • Stanley Brown, language arts/social studies-grade 6
  • Stephanie Davies, mathematics-grades 7-12 (RIGHTS Site administrator)
  • Abby Lindesmith, language arts-grades 7-9
  • James Palmer, social studies-grades 7-8
  • Lanise Belvin, languages arts-grades 7-8 and urban humanities-grades 11-12
  • Dan Ferris, language arts-grade 10 and urban humanities-grades 11-12
  • David Madson, social studies-grades 9-10


 2002 interview with teacher Stephanie Davies  
 Related human rights lesson plan   "Comparing Rights Documents"