Minnesota leaders seek answers on education disparity gap


An executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, along with retired Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, stopped by Minnesota State University in Moorhead on Thursday evening, November 18, for a live and virtual meeting to draw attention to the problem and suggest solutions.

Page said their common goal is a Minnesota constitutional amendment that must first go through the Minnesota legislature before going to state voters.

The amendment would guarantee a civil right to quality education for all children in the state. Supporters are hopeful that the legislature in the next session this winter approves the putting on the ballot next fall.

Page said this may be the “stick” needed to bring about change, as he said statistics show students of color and from low-income backgrounds are being left behind.

The longtime associate judge, who has an educational foundation he formed with his wife, Diane, said it was a problem for “all of us” to try to solve.

Why? He said that every child left behind, whether urban or rural, increases the chances of a “diminished” taxpayer, employee and contributor in society. He added that these students today “will pay our social security” in the future as well.

“So it’s in our own interest,” he said. Of course, that adds to the morality of leaving students behind, he added.

Federal Reserve Vice President of Community Development in Minneapolis Alene Tchourumoff agreed it was an economic issue and that’s why they are involved.

“It is a question of our future prosperity,” she said.

Tchorumoff also agreed that this is an issue that “we all need to work on” and that is why the Federal Reserve is interested, as its stated goals are to achieve maximum jobs and stable prices.

“If something isn’t done now, when?” ” she asked.

According to numerous reports, the gap between educational disparities is widening and spreading to all regions of the state, with the Federal Reserve calling it a “statewide crisis” in a report from last year.

The achievement gaps are evident in standardized test scores, graduation rates and college readiness, according to the report. Those falling behind are many Hispanic, Black, and Native American students.

So what concrete steps can be taken, asked MSUM Marshal Arrick Jackson.

Page believes the constitutional amendment is the “catalyst for real change” that will help create an education system that caters to each child individually.

Tchorumoff suggested that increased early childhood education could also be a great place to start.

Kevin Lindsey, another panelist at the meeting who is the state’s former human rights commissioner and current head of the Minnesota Humanities Council, said the program changes are also part of the response.

He asked people to name three Hispanic people who were part of their history studies at school. The suggestion was that there probably wasn’t.

Lindsey raised another point regarding the disparity in school suspensions which can cause some students to be late or dropped out.

Statistics gleaned directly from school districts show that black men in Minnesota were eight times more likely to be suspended in Minnesota, while the national average is three times and for Native Americans, men are 10 times more likely to be suspended. be suspended in the state, compared to the national average of five times.

The most common reason for a suspension, he said, is an “adult interaction” gone awry.

Another cause of suspension is that the child does not show up for class. “So you won’t let them come to school?” Page asked. “This is fundamentally wrong.”

Another panelist, Anna Wasescha, president of the West Central Initiative that works to improve life in this part of the state, said she believes teachers need to regain more respect and also have more income. students.

Lindsey added that there are several questions and answers on what can be done.

For now, the constitutional amendment, known as the Page Amendment, has been presented to the Legislature.

Lindsey said it was “hard to say” whether he would gain traction among lawmakers, with some passionate about the issue while others believe the amendment could have negative consequences.

Unlike football, Page, who was a star in the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive line and was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1988, said that if they win in this situation, it doesn’t mean anyone loses.

If the disparity gap is closed, he said anyone can win and everyone can be high.

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