Ari Kiener was MinnCAN’s public affairs manager from 2013-2016.

This week, MinnCAN released the results of a statewide public opinion poll which explored how Minnesotans think our public schools are doing, and how education issues factor (or don’t) into the decisions voters make on Election Day. There were a lot of interesting findings—including some that surprised me:

  1. We know that education is a top priority for Minnesotans—and we know that, as a result, it’s a hot topic at the Capitol. That’s why it was surprising that nearly half of respondents said that state legislators prioritize education too little.
  2. Democrats and Republicans disagree on many topics, but there was one issue with near identical support: almost 60 percent of respondents from both parties say that they would be more likely to support a candidate who supports educator performance more than seniority in making layoff decisions.
  3. Minnesotans seem to know that the achievement gap exists, but they underestimate it. When it comes to high school graduation rates, the divides between white students and their peers of color are larger than many respondents imagined. Check page 14 of our executive summary for more details.
  4. Lots of Minnesotans are hopeful that we’ll close these gaps…but a surprising number aren’t. In fact, 35 percent of respondents think Minnesota will never be able to completely close the achievement gap.
  5. White respondents were more likely than respondents of color to attribute the achievement gap to community/family-based issues. Respondents of color were more likely to indicate institutional issues, such as school funding and curriculum and standards, as the root of the problem.
  6. Last legislative session, we supported a bill to ensure that student teachers are placed with effective mentor teachers, but we faced an uphill battle. So, we asked everyday Minnesotans what they think. And it turns out a whopping 80 percent of respondents agreed that student teachers should be partnered with effective mentor teachers, as determined by teacher evaluations.
  7. And, finally, despite Minnesota having some of the worst achievement gaps in the nation, 36 percent of respondents believed Minnesota’s kids of color are doing as well or better than their white peers.

Explore the full results and let us know, what surprises you most?


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