Though there are other ways to improve our financial future, some form of education, including learning a trade, is a mainstay of American wealth building. More importantly, the nation falters when we retreat from educating the broadest workforce. Markets crash here and there, but bankrupting education is a multigenerational downturn.
Lifetime income increases by a million dollars on average with a college degree. You need to graduate high school or equivalent to get into college. Motivated teachers and students with the resources they need make advancement possible.
Minnesota is less invested in public education compared to past decades, and we have not thoroughly tackled the problem of outcome inequality. As we grow through immigration, which we must, with mostly people of color, we cannot allow this travesty to continue. Public school funding can no longer be based on local property taxes, now accounting for 67% of revenue.
Poorer areas are pushed deeper into debt by disinvestment. Republican Betsy DeVos talks of charter schools, and private school vouchers. Yet these concepts encourage separation, which often means further disadvantaging the disadvantaged. While homogenization isn’t the goal of public education, starting out our children together as much as possible is a good way to realize a more perfect union.
Rather than making education property tax contingent, we should make the quality of each school commensurate with every other. The best and brightest, gifted and talented shouldn’t get better schooling while leaving others behind. With funding mainly through the state, or federal government, outcomes improve overall.
Teachers are leaving teaching earlier and earlier. With pay stagnation, and support and mentoring reduced or nonexistent, is it any wonder? Pay must correspond with education level, and be competitive with other careers, rather than be so lopsided community to community, state to state.
Of the six states nearest to Minnesota four spend more per student, only Wisconsin and South Dakota spend less. Adjusted for regional costs we spend $8,000 less per student than Vermont; and we’ve fallen to 21st in teacher pay.
Such a downturn puts everyone’s future in jeopardy.
Richard Chwalek, Monticello