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Education: A Guide to Civic Action
New Normal 2012: Get Connected!
Understand the Challenges
Minnesota Compass notes that the state of Minnesota has “long enjoyed a reputation for its high‐quality public education, placing at or near the top in many nation‐wide rankings and measures.” But there are many signs that the state is slipping. Perhaps most disturbing is that Minnesota maintains one of the widest gaps in per‐ formance, nationally, based on race, family income, and English proficiency.
Overall, only about three‐quarters of our state’s students graduated on time from high school in 2010; and only half of students of color. There has been little progress during the past six years. (MN Compass )
Half of Minnesota kids are currently unprepared for kindergarten, and too many of them never catch up and ultimately drop out of school. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis estimates that every $1 of investment in high quality early education reaps $16 of benefits. (Minnesota Early Learning Foundation)
Minnesota ranks 16th in funding per pupil, with spending of $11,533, slightly above the national average. (“Is Funding Fair? A National Report Card,” Education Law Center)
The state ranks near the bottom of all 50 states when it comes to elementary class size. (The National Center for Educa‐ tion Statistics).
Minnesota has a 45% disparity in graduation rates between white and black students, the worst gap in the country. If the drop‐out rate were cut in half, the metro would see a $100 billion boost in economic activity when these young peo‐ ple move into middle age. (Minneapolis Foundation)
High school drop out rates are higher for Minnesotans of color, with the rate for American Indian students seven times that of the state’s white students, and rates for black and Latino students about four times of whites. (Growth & Justice)
By 2013, non‐white racial/ethnic groups will constitute 21 percent of Minnesota’s high school graduates. By 2017 Min‐ nesota workforce growth and replacement of retiring seniors will create a demand for college‐educated workers that exceeds the number of graduates by 13,000 per year. (Minnesota Private College Research Foundation)
There are lots of resources to help ground you in facts. Here are some places to start online:
- MN Compass: Education/Minnesota Compass
- Minnesota Measures: 2011 Report on Higher Education Performance/MN Office of Higher Education
- Why We Still Need Public Schools/Center on Education Policy
- How We Can Close the Early Learning Access Gap for Low‐Income Children in Minnesota/Wilder Research
- Education Week magazine
- Building Relationships with Legislators/Minnesota School Boards Association—a guide with checklist
- Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card/Education Law Center
- Breaking through the Barriers to College/USC Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis
- Working Together: To Empower Parent & Community School Leadership & Involvement/Mpls Foundation
There are many education advocacy organizations. These are a few that provide opportunities for civic engagement:
Parents United: unites and empowers those who value public education in Minnesota to be strong advocates for excellence in public schools.
Minnesota Minority Education Partnership: a collaborative effort dedicated to bringing a broad range of people to the table to increase the success of students of color in Minnesota schools, colleges, and universities.
Committee on the Achievement Gap: an informal, twice‐monthly gathering of people interested in finding ways for all Minnesota students to learn to their full potential regardless of ethnicity, sex, or country of origin.
Schools for Equity in Education: an association of 58 school districts throughout Minnesota that works for greater equity and adequacy in public education funding.
Latino Youth Development Collaborative: engages Hennepin County communities, youth, and agencies to address the increasing high school dropout rate among Latino students.
NAVIGATE Minnesota: addresses the growing need for resources that help immigrant students, regardless of immigration status, to pursue higher education.
Twin Cities Media Alliance offers several ways to stay informed, connected, and engaged through the Twin Cities Daily Planet, including:
>Citizen journalism classes
>Social media classes
>Social media clinics
>An annual fall media forum
For more information, contact Marcos Lopez-Carlson: marcos [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net
Take a few minutes to identify a challenge that you or your organization faces in respect to using your social networks. Stay focused on identifying challenges and opportunities at this point, not moving into solutions.
- We are unable to connect with new people outside our networks.
- It’s easy to get people excited, but hard to maintain that energy.
- It’s been difficult to get people to share our message with their networks.
- Not enough people understand the background, or context, of our focus issues.
- People only think of our issues a few times a year. It’s hard to “stay on their radar.”
- With so many worthwhile organizations and causes, it’s challenging to stand out.
- It’s a challenge to give our followers the type of content they can share with others.
- In a 24-hour news cycle, it’s increasingly challenging to stay relevant.
- We have been unable to form a real connection between our stakeholders and our donors.
Add your own unique challenge:
New Normal 2012 is a project of the Twin Cities Media Alliance and Twin Cities Daily Planet, supported by a generous grant from the Bush Foundation.
For More Information: Contact Bruce Johansen: brucejohansen [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net
Follow Us on Twitter: #newnormal2012
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