Consider the interplay between these two facts:
- The population of people of color and Indigenous people (POCI) in Minnesota is expected to almost double. By 2035, one of out of every four Minnesotans will be a person of color. [See MnEEP Reports]
- While Minnesota’s white student’s college graduation rates from four-year institutions in Minnesota was 66 percent, Latino rates were 54%, Black rates was 45%, Asian rates was 62%, and American Indian graduation rates was 47% in 2014. [See: Mn Office Of Higher Ed Report]
As we look forward, we need to ask this important question: How do we maintain our state’s prosperity if our economic vitality depends on obtaining advanced knowledge and skills by communities which, although they will make up the bulk of our economic workforce, struggle with attaining postsecondary credentials?
This is an important question for our state, and the answer may well be that we won’t be able to maintain and grow Minnesota’s quality of life unless we find a way to end racial disparities.
We encourage all Minnesotans to have this in mind as we determine which candidates to support in their search for public office.
How we can create change this election
In 2015 the Minnesota legislature passed the “Educational Attainment Goal 2025” that aims for having 70 percent of Minnesota adults achieve a postsecondary certificate or degree and specified that each individual racial group reach that goal. This sent a message that the practices and approaches to recruitment and retention of POCI communities is a big part of the solution for keeping our state prosperous for all people. To this end, an “Equity in Education and Job Connection Grant Program” was funded for a limited number of higher education institutions (see www.ohe.state.mn.us).
At MnEEP, we hope this legislation can lead to redesigning systems based on knowing that the struggle for academic achievement is not due to inherent POCI community traits. Good public policy lies in fixing systems and not on efforts to “fix” people.
MnEEP believes the disparities in achievement outcomes has more to do with how opportunity is systemically structured to constrict the success of POCI communities. Further, we believe the behavior of our social systems need not be explicit in order to perpetuate limited opportunities but instead, that implicit biases can shape such harm even as we attempt to undo the damage.
With this in mind, MnEEP is seeking to help shift policy in our state to produce racial equity in college credentialing success that will lead to stronger communities and to a stronger state.
To do this, we will engage in a research and policy development project aimed at strengthening our state’s post-secondary delivery systems and our community practices to enhance student perseverance and success.
And as MnEEP seeks to powerfully document how present higher education outcomes are tied to institutional behaviors, we will be building energy for action by gathering POCI researchers, activists and educators to develop and propose effective policy frames that can drive better practices.
Ask candidates for state office:
- Are you committed to maintaining the Educational attainment Goal 2025?
- Are you committed to the postsecondary success of POCI students and to working with their communities for that success?
- Are you committed to redesigning postsecondary delivery of services so that there is equitable – not just “equal” – opportunities for all students leading to positive achievement outcomes?
- Are you committed to financing postsecondary opportunities in a way that increases affordability for low income students? For aligning with the social and economic constraints that impact their ability to persevere?