The economic argument for closing MN’s achievement gap

The people who you will increasingly depend upon in your old age to pay taxes, keep your Social Security solvent, build Minnesota’s economy and maintainstudentscolor.jpg its quality of life are the least prepared to take on that future.

That’s why you should pay attention to the latest data showing high, persistent gaps between whites and black and Latino students in Minnesota. No matter where you are in Minnesota, you have a lot riding on them.

My colleague Tom Weber pulled the report data together nicely in a news story today.

Here’s my contribution: An economic argument for closing the gap:

Minnesota’s aging. State demographer Tom Gillaspy recently estimated that over the next 10 years, nearly 700,000 Minnesota Baby Boomers (currently age 52 to 63, or 1 out of every 8 Minnesotans) will “seriously contemplate retirement.”

>That’s a lot of productive people. Who will replace them?

A shrinking, more diverse high school class. High school graduates peaked last month and we are now on the slide in Minnesota. Much of that will come from a big drop in white graduates as students of color rise to about 20 percent of the graduating class statewide.

The overall demand for workers in Minnesota will be greater than the supply in coming years. Black and Latino students are the fastest growing populations in Minnesota high schools.

>How many will be ready to succeed in college and take on the job of building Minnesota’s economy, paying taxes and keeping our Social Security checks from bouncing?

5 percent. Fewer than 5 percent of students of color and low-income kids earn a bachelor’s degree from a Minnesota college within 10 years of their freshman year in high school, according to research by the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership and Minnesota Private College Council (published by the Citizens League).

The high school students who are college bound are woefully unprepared for college work.

At the University of Minnesota Twin Cities,  fewer than half the students of color entering in 2001 had graduated by 2007 (check .pdf page 19)

I know the next question.

So how would you close the gap?

I covered K-12 and higher education for 10 years in the Twin Cities. A couple years ago I wrote down four things that work based on the stuff I’ve read and the people I talked to over the years.

I’ll roll that out in the next post.

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