St. Paul, MN– MinnCAN: The Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now today released its annual State of Minnesota Public Education report revealing Minnesota’s achievement gaps are widening by many accounts, most notably low-income students and students of color ranking near the bottom of the nation. The annual progress report also details MinnCAN’s annual campaign goals for 2012, The Playbook for Education in Minnesota.
“The unfortunate truth when it comes to Minnesota K-12 public schools is that we’re average,” said MinnCAN Executive Director Vallay Varro. “We’ve created two Minnesotas that amount to an inadequate education system. In one, students of privilege receive an excellent, arguably unrivaled, public education. In the other, students of color and low-income backgrounds are among the least career- and college-ready students in the United States. This fact is hard to swallow because we Minnesotans pride ourselves on being well above average. Our “State of Minnesota Public Education Report” outlines the good, the bad and the achievement opportunities for Minnesota.”
Key findings in the report include:
- Minnesota ranks 38 out of 44 states for its black-white achievement in fourth-grade math and 37 out of 45 states in reading.
- Since 2006, the achievement gap has increased by 10 percentage points in high school math between white and Hispanic students and between white and black students on the annual state test.
To address Minnesota’s persistent achievement gaps, MinnCAN has launched three campaign plays to create foundational changes to reset Minnesota education:
Play 1: Prize first-string teachers: Keep high-performing teachers in the game When school districts encounter million-dollar deficits, teacher layoffs are inevitable. In Minnesota, schools don’t look at how well a teacher performs when deciding who to keep and who to let go. Minnesota’s “last in, first out” mandate, compromises schools’ ability to choose which teachers will best serve their students. In 2011, Minnesota law HF-26 laid the groundwork for a statewide teacher evaluation system to recognize, reward and retain teachers who perform well. Minnesotans must end seniority-based layoffs and use its new teacher evaluation system to keep the best teachers in the classroom because performance matters.
Play 2: Scouting Minnesota’s MVPs: Most Valuable Principals: For Minnesota’s public school teachers, the leadership, culture, vision and support their principals provide matters a lot. In 2011, Minnesota created a smart new path to recognizing and supporting its principals: The legislature called for the annual evaluation of principals. As Minnesota solidifies its evaluation system this year, it is critical to make student and teacher performance explicit components in the evaluation, and sustain a system that develops and supports strong instructional school leaders.
Play 3: Launch the achievement power play: Minnesota needs to expand schools that are working, close those that aren’t and improve those in between. The more great schools, the better the chance of meeting the needs of every Minnesota student. To renew Minnesota’s focus on innovation, MinnCAN will provide report cards for all schools, showcase superstar schools, call for the closure of persistently low-performing schools and seed an achievement kick-start fund.
“Minnesota championed meaningful education reform policies in 2011, and it is paramount that we continue a commitment to adopting robust policy solutions that ensure every Minnesota child has access to a great public school,” continued Varro. “We look forward to working with many stakeholders to help Minnesota renew its value of education excellence and equality.”
About MinnCAN: Launched in January 2011, MinnCAN: The Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now is an education reform advocacy organization. MinnCAN is building a movement of Minnesotans dedicated to creating the political will to enact smart public policies to ensure that every Minnesota child has access to a great public school. Learn more at www.minncan.org.