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Students for Education Reform forging ahead

As we embark upon 2012, memories of notable events of 2011 surely bombarded us. Who can forget Charlie Sheen’s rants of tiger blood and warlocks, the Herman Cain Train, and of course the marriage of Kim Kardashian to Minnesota’s very own Kris Humphries? To this list of somewhat trivial events I feel obliged to add something more substantial: Students for Education Reform (SFER) exponential growth in Minnesota.

SFER, a national nonprofit mobilizing college students around education policy and reform, has been present in MN since the spring of 2010, though it has operated exclusively at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. This past summer, SFER- decided to expand its capacity in Minnesota. The fact that Minnesota, which historically produces some of the highest-scoring students on the ACT and other standardized tests also possesses the second largest racial achievement gap in America, made Minnesota a prime state for expansion. Minnesota’s diverse population center and abundance of universities and colleges also helped.

SFER’s expansion in Minnesota came very late in the year, in mid-October, right when midterms begin. Nevertheless, SFER was able to identify some extraordinary student leaders. Among them Susann Puican, chapter leader at Macalester College and St. Paul native, who joined SFER because she is dedicated to equalizing opportunities for all students regardless of income. Susann and Macalester College join Carleton College, Metropolitan State University, and St. Olaf College as the newest SFER chapters in the state. These chapters, including the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities are bringing the education reform conversation to their respective campuses to further explore, expand, and advocate for the best education policies for our schools and students.

The addition of four chapters within just 10 weeks is a clear indication that our work at the grass root level in Minnesota is paying off. Minnesotans have always sustained a reputation of reinvesting in their schools and communities. College students are likewise rushing to reinvest their time and energy in the education system that they have just recently left, a trend that bodes well for Minnesota.

Kudos to MinnCAN on reaching out to collaborate with SFER on our initial Minnesota expansion. MinnCAN is elevating the issue and opportunity for education reform in Minnesota, and we are excited to add student voices to the dialogue.

Know any exceptional college students who may be able to found an SFER chapter? Want to bring Students for Education Reform to a campus near you? Please contact me at James@studentsforedreform.org.

James Chang is Minnesota State Program Director for Students for Education Reform.