Huge disparities in student outcomes not new in Minnesota

Recently, the Annie E. Casey Foundation published its annual Kids Count data book, which is the best data available to rank states on socioeconomic indicators of student success. Minnesota Public Radio discussed the “wide disparities in well-being for Minnesota’s white children and children of color” outlined in the report.

Minnesota rank fifth in the nation for white children, and  has also ranked highly as one of the best states to raise a family. Yet Minnesota also was ranked second-worst in the nation for racial equity in September and, most recently in Kids Count, ranked third-worst for Asian American and Pacific Islander students and seventh-worst for American Indian students.

This is not new information.

When MnEEP produced its first State of Students of Color Report in 2001, it was a landmark work in Minnesota. Our most recent report in 2016 showed that disparities in educational outcomes have not ended and the aggregate rate of “closing gaps” has been very slow.

What is remarkable about our reports is that we go beyond sharing the data of conventional academic outcomes. Our  State of Students of Color Report provides a framework for understanding the systemic context that powerfully shapes and produces racial inequities in academic outcomes.

With these reports, MnEEP offers the historical facts, ideas, data, promising efforts, and recommendations as an invitation for deeper reflection and discussion. We believe these histories of communities of color and low-income people provide important context to the treatment by current-day institutions, policies, and practices. We also believe Minnesota can claim and redesign our schools and colleges to be places where students and all people succeed by affirming and unleashing the beauty, power, and the genius of American Indian, African American, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and immigrant students.

But we cannot address those systems by ignoring the complexity of their histories within our communities.

MnEEP is reflecting on the past year as we write our annual report and prepare for our membership meeting. We have worked to affect more than 850,000 students enrolled in Minnesota’s public schools. We have partnered with organizations and individuals who want to transform institutions by gaining a deeper understanding through community voice of the history and the need for change. We have been successful in positive school climate environments for all students through a reduction in School Resource Officers. We have increased English Learner advocacy and a deeper understanding of asset-based mindsets by promoting multilingualism.

And we continue to shift the paradigm of student outcomes by finding ways to increase the number of teachers of color and American Indian teachers to match student demographics.

The work is clearly not complete. Onward together.

 

Carlos Mariani Rosa

MnEEP Executive Director