We can create an education system that allows each young person to meet their fullest potential. Unfortunately, we are falling short for too many students, especially for many in our region. Research across the metropolitan area in the last number of years has shown consistent racial and socio-economic gaps in the education of our young people: only one out of every three fourth-grade children of color are achieving reading or math standards, compared to closer to two out of every three white students. The statistics are even worse for children living in poverty. And, Minnesota ranks the lowest in the nation for on-time high school graduation rates for young people of color. If racial gaps in educational attainment had been closed from 2005 to 2019, Minnesota’s GDP would have increased by $1.1 billion dollars annually.
Identified by the United Nations as one of our leading human rights, each and every child deserves a high-quality education that is aligned to our community-adopted standards, prepares them for college or career, strengthens our national workforce, gives them the tools they need to help solve society’s most vexing challenges, and to become socially responsible citizens. The primary measure of the effectiveness of our investment must be the lifetime outcomes of our students. Schools are the first, and too often the last, opportunity to close our troubling prosperity gaps. It is important that they effectively serve to undo our deliberately unjust past. Any successful education policy should focus on four critical areas to make sure we are addressing these issues effectively and educating our children capably. They are: early learning, kindergarten through twelfth grade, higher education, and the needs of students’ families.
I stand for progress in all of these areas: