Our MnSCU Board of Trustees held a study session in January, 2013 focused on Minnesota’s achievement gap in educational performance. As a leader within higher education, I was shocked by some of the statistics that were presented:
- While 94% of white children are deemed ready for kindergarten, that number drops drastically for children of color, averaging around 60%.
- In high school, the percentage of white students meeting the ACT college readiness standard for math is nearly twice as high as the average for students of color
- Minnesota’s high school graduation rates are abysmal, ranking last in the nation for several ethnic groups
This disparity in achievement is a reality across the United States. As a system, MnSCU is poised to help solve this problem. We’ve set some aggressive goals and are making strides toward closing this gap in terms of college readiness and completion. We are one of Minnesota’s best resources for turning this trend around. But there is a lot more work to be done. In order to achieve our goals, the Board presentation stated that we need to have more diverse and culturally competent faculty and staff and create a more supportive climate.
This is a challenge for all of us in higher education. The topics we’ve been discussing this month will make a difference for all of our students and for the whole state. If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to view the presentation at http://www.mnscu.edu/board/materials/2013/jan16/bot-studysession.pdf.
What is your institution doing to create a more diverse and welcoming environment for our students? Post your ideas and suggestions in the comments section so we can work together to address this problem.
Dee Anne Bonebright