Vallay Varro was a founding state executive director. She now serves as the president of 50CAN.

With such a heavy focus on reinvigorating America’s economy, it’s no surprise that last night’s State of the Union address called on America to “out-educate the rest of the world.” The President explained how global competitors like India and China have invested in education to develop a highly-skilled workforce, and warned that unless America follows suit, it risks losing its own economic edge:

“Think about it. Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school education. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us –- as citizens, and as parents –- are willing to do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.”

Getting public education right may be a national challenge, but it won’t be won at the national level. Ultimately it’s Minnesota—not Washington—who decides what happens in our public schools. And right now the system is only doing right by some of our students.  It’s up to us as Minnesotans to take charge and reject the complacency that has kept us from providing "every child a chance to succeed."

It’s time for us to treat our teachers as “nation-builders,” to stop making excuses for failure, and to make sure all of our kids—not just the most privileged—have access to a great public school. MinnCAN’s first legislative campaign, School Emergency in Effect, is about taking those first steps. If Minnesota is to truly out-educate the world, then it has to make sure all of its public schools are up to snuff, not just a select few.

Photo credit: CNN


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