Minnesota's Education Achievement Gap: What happens after High School?

Late last month, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released new data regarding Minnesota’s high school graduation rate. The good news from the MDE, according to the Star Tribune, is that the “graduation rate for Minnesota students is the highest it’s been in a decade, even though many minority students continue to lag behind their white peers when it comes to getting a diploma on time.”

The new data showed that in 2013, “85 percent of white students, 56 percent of black students and 58 percent of Hispanic students graduated”. Minnesota is not alone –many other states show an increase in the number of students leaving high school with a diploma. In 2014, according to the Star Tribune, the US graduation rate was the highest it has been in 40 years when nearly “78 percent of high school students nationwide graduated on time.”

What happens to a Minnesotan who doesn’t earn a high school diploma? Those students face daunting challenges in life because the public education system has failed them. Instead of a celebratory front page news story, these students become a statistic in a report issued by the Center for Popular Democracy. Hardly part of the “vast right-wing conspiracy”, The Center for Popular Democracy’s “partners” include the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers, and the AFL-CIO, to name just a few.

According to a recently released report from The Center for Popular Democracy, “Minnesota has the third-highest unemployment gap between white and black people in the country – with the jobless rate among blacks almost four times higher than among whites.” Minnesota’s astonishing statewide high rate of unemployment among African-Americans “fell” to 11.9 percent in 2014 down from a previous high of 15.4 percent seven years earlier. In 2014, the white unemployment rate in the state was 3.2 percent.

In 2013, the Star Tribune reported that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Minnesota was second only to Wyoming [where the] black unemployment rate was triple the white rate.” There was virtually no change in the Minnesota’s Hispanic unemployment rate (7 percent) which remains at nearly twice the rate of white unemployment.

Furthermore, according to a report on “Bring Me the News.com”, and “WalletHub”, “Minnesota has the second-worst wealth gap between white people and people of color in the United States.”

So while officials at the Minnesota Department of Education continue celebrating the “improving” graduation rate, we’ll postpone any celebrations. We’ll wait until there is no “achievement gap” for minority students that attend (and graduate on time from) Minnesota’s public schools. That will be worth celebrating.

 

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