Minnesota has an achievement gap that is one of the worst in the nation. Our kids deserve better, and education is one of the key facets to providing opportunity and lifting low income children out of poverty. Strong public education funding, greater support for our teachers and teachers of color, access to affordable pre-k and child care services, and free public college education for low income students are all things we can and should provide in the state of Minnesota as pathways to opportunity.
All people can reach their full potential when we create the policies that empower people to aspire for a better future. Public education has allowed me to get to where I am today. That is why I feel that we need to create greater incentives to attend college, increase access to technical skills training and college readiness tools in our high schools, and have more funding for students to receive subsidized/free college when they and their families cannot afford to pay. Right now the “Power of You” program provides two years of free college college to Metro high school graduates whose families make less than $75,000 dollars a year. We need to expand access to this kind of programming throughout the state. College debt is bad for our residents, families and the economy, as it causes people to put their lives and major life decisions on hold, such as marriage, buying a home, etc.
A holistic approach to fixing the achievement gap is one that also seriously addresses the gaps in health and housing that exist for people of color. A universal health care model, affordable housing, and home ownership are other ways to help level the playing field for students of color, as they bring steep disadvantages related to these issues with them into the classroom.
Some statistics and challenges we need to address:
- Achievement gap for students of color in Minnesota is among the worst in the nation, and we are ranked one of the worst states in racial equity.
- Black and Latino students in MN rank 48th and 50th respectively in graduation rates when ranked nationwide
- Students of color make up 31% of the students in the state, when only 4.2% of our teachers are non-white
- EPIC (Education Policy Innovation Center) study shows teachers of color are central to success among students of color. (read below)