This Legislation addresses issues of Equity, Equality and Economics. Once implemented this legislation would have a significant positive impact on issues facing Minnesota.
- This Legislation includes an expectation that all students, K-12, will be taught, with fidelity, the advanced thinking skills listed
- This Legislation includes an expectation that all districts will a have defensible gifted program that identifies students through universal screening
- This Legislation includes an expectation that the social emotional needs of all students will be addressed with comprehensive programming
- This Legislation includes an expectation that all districts will be held accountable for growth in critical and creative thinking abilities as measured on a common instrument
- This Legislation includes funding to support this initiative at $39 PPU
People of color, nationally, have impacted home owning, by the pandemic. In the first quarter of 2020, 74% of white people owned their homes, whereas only 44% of Black people. The impact of Covid-19 pandemic has throttled home purchasing for people of color. The phenomenon. Economically, this was like having a car accident without seat belts and air bags. This is the biggest recession we have faced in 90 years, since the Great Depression. The single thing we had (consumer spending) was gone. There is only so much you can spend on toilet paper. We couldn’t do anything as consumers, and our economy collapsed. A decline in GDP of 10% is five years of economic growth up in flames. The Great Recession decline was 5%, this pandemic will double that loss in three months time. We know that housing is central to the lives and economic vitality of Minnesotans and the communities across our state. Homeownership is desired by 90% of Minnesotans, yet we have failed to provide a housing market that can adequately and equitably supply affordable homes to our residents across all price points and locations. “Owning a home is connected to a multitude of positive outcomes, including physical and mental health, community engagement, positive education outcomes, safety and security, and the long-term creation of wealth.”
By many estimates, homeownership is the most reliable wealth-building vehicle the American economic factory has ever produced. Home equity allows homeowners to get money when they need it, which delivers them from many financial perils. It can also help them to accrue and pass along wealth. Paying off a home, however, requires not only a certain level of income but also a reliable one. Otherwise, people can end up worse off than they started. Labor Department figures show that in April, on the heels of the economic shutdown, fewer than half of all African Americans were employed, the lowest rate in four decades.
In fact, a new study from the Institute of Policy Studies finds that it would take over 200 years for the wealth gap to close if we continue the practices currently in our schools. And that’s only if white wealth stayed the same, which Michael Dawson says it will not. “There’s a number of factors. One is that the legacy of housing discrimination continues to accelerate the wealth gap that we’ve seen,” Dawson, professor and director of the University of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, told MPR News host, Kerri Miller in discussion recently on the wealth gap. Rhonda Vonshay Sharpe, president and founder of the Women’s Institute for Science, Equity and Race, joined Dawson; who agreed that institutionalized racism plays a big role in that gap.
Dawson and Sharpe also discussed how the education gap between people of color and white people continues to hinder black and Latino people’s ability to succeed. Our legislation would play a role in narrowing that education achievement gap by changing what and how we teach in our schools.
While there is some positive evidence of change in employment, family income and overall improvement in lives of people of color over the last decade, that growth has been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Emerging analysis of the business community’s small business disappearing or closing down is evident, impacting the Latino and African American population more severely. COVID-19 shutdowns have pounded Black-owned businesses particularly hard.
Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 41 percent of Black-owned businesses—some 440,000 enterprises—have been shuttered by COVID-19, compared to just 17 percent of white-owned businesses. “I knew it would be bad, but I didn’t think it would be this devastating,” says Robert W. Fairlie, author of the UC Santa Cruz report and a professor of economics at the university. Failure to respond to these challenges with appropriate legislative action will result in a delayed and longer journey toward recovery and empowerment of disenfranchised populations. Our legislation, over time, will provide the skills necessary in this changing workplace, and prepare all students, to find a way to financial success.
In a 2015 examination, White and Asian patients generally had higher outcomes rates, while American Indian and black patients generally had lower rates, both statewide and across the state. For example, among the patients whose data were collected for the report, 44 percent of Asians and 41 percent of whites received optimal diabetes care, compared to 27 percent of blacks and 25 percent of American Indians.
Hispanics generally had lower outcomes rates than non-Hispanics, both across the five quality measures and in most geographic regions. Hispanics living in some regions of the state, however, had notably higher rates than non-Hispanics for two measures: optimal vascular care and asthma care for adults. For example, 61 percent of Hispanic adults in southeast Minnesota received optimal asthma care, compared with 46 percent of non-Hispanic adults.
Immigrants from African countries — particularly those from Somali — had some of the lowest health-care outcomes rates statewide. For example, only 22 percent of Somali immigrants had been screened for colorectal cancer compared to 70 percent of patients statewide. And only 21 percent of Somali patients received optimal diabetes care.
Asian immigrants tended to have higher outcome rates across multiple measures and geographic areas. In fact, Vietnamese immigrants had the highest statewide rate for optimal diabetes care of any racial or ethnic group. In the West Metro Region, 64 percent of Vietnamese immigrants were receiving such care.
There was one exception to these higher rates among Asian immigrants: those born in Laos. They generally had lower health-care outcomes than other Asian-born patients and other patients in general. For example, while 62 percent of Asian-born patients living in Minnesota had been screened for colorectal cancer, only 40 percent of patients born in Laos had been similarly screened. (That compared with 70 percent of whites statewide.)
The report wasn’t designed to identify the specific reasons for these disparities, but it does suggest that some of those racial and ethnic disparity gaps may be the result of a language barrier. “Variation in English proficiency can add to the challenges of health care access and the attainment of better health care outcomes,” the report notes.
Blue Cross Blue Shield reports, “Discussions of ‘inequities’ often bring to mind racial inequality, and the status of non-Hispanic whites in comparison to people of color. In general, we see the same pattern with health that we do with other measures of well-being, including educational attainment, poverty and income, employment, and homeownership rates: As a group, people of color fare worse than do whites in our region on a variety of health measures, including birth weights, obesity, diabetes, and mortality. “
When looking more closely at health, however, racial and ethnic disparities take a somewhat surprising turn. Asian and Latino populations, as well as African immigrants, often have better health outcomes than non-Hispanic whites, American Indians and U.S.-born blacks in our region. For example, our analysis shows life expectancies for racial groups in the Twin Cities ranging from highs of 83 years for Asians and 81 years for whites, to lows of 74 years for African Americans and only 61 years for American Indians. In summary, in the long term: Those concerned with health in the Twin Cities should strive to build consensus around the need to address social determinants of health, build on existing successes, and continue to innovate new policies and programmatic responses.
And in the short term:
Those advocating for poverty reduction, closing educational gaps, reducing segregation, and creating high-paying jobs in the Twin Cities can broaden their case to include the health benefits and the very tangible economics of improved health. More of those among the medical community should lend their voices to those efforts in order to help improve the health and longevity of their patients. We should learn from the health promoting cultural practices of new arrivals, and reinforce the protective aspects of all cultures in our region. Addressing inequities is an issue of justice for our region. It is also an important ingredient to cost containment and long-term regional and statewide prosperity.
The challenges of housing and healthcare can be addresses through a different educational pathway. Public education has always risen to the challenges faced by our state and country. When the US undertook the role of educating the children we were in the Agrarian Age preparing our children for a known future. Our children may have strived for an advanced education but most were prepared for a life on the farm. With the Industrial Age we needed a different preparation but the teacher was still the holder of knowledge and only a few moved on to higher education. Toward the end of that age, the nation was faced with a challenge in our race to space. President Kennedy announced that we were going to the moon. A few years later, NSF funds were established to better prepare our students for a science and technology future, the Information Age. Our current model of teaching and learning needed a boost, so the Marland Act of 1972 was established to address the needs of the brightest of our students, pushing gifted programming across the nation. Minnesota’s gifted programming was established and began to flourish. But it only flourished in well-funded school districts. To date, only about a third of the districts in the state have gifted programming and some of that amount to only an academic competition. But not all students benefitted. Now we are faced with another challenge. And Gifted Advocates can provide that response, as well.
There is reason to think that we have the capacity to improve the life prospects of our most vulnerable young people and in doing so strengthen our society and democracy. Major crises tend to galvanize the public toward action on long-simmering issues. Suddenly, problems that our education system has been working on for the past two decades, the widening Achievement Gap can be addressed in this legislation. And we have a cohort of well-prepared teachers who know the skills of this legislation and can assist districts across the state in the implementation of this legislation.
Weaknesses in our education system have become painfully apparent to far more people. As they struggle to facilitate their children’s remote learning during this pandemic, parents are seeing the great inconsistency in the quality of students’ learning experiences. Educators and families are realizing how little they understand about each other’s goals and realities and how that lack of understanding impedes their efforts.
Solutions to some of our biggest challenges already exist. As we move into the fall and school openings, teachers and district leaders, who have learned from last spring, are finding better ways to educate our students, either in hybrid models or on and off days of in school learning. The great fragmentation that typifies the education sector was also laid bare during this crisis, but the urgency of the moment forced people to let go of practices and beliefs that they held dear, creating the opportunity to meaningfully change how our education system works. This legislation puts the learner front and center, we are personalizing learning and teachers’ roles are changing to one of a facilitator.
Another cause for cautious optimism is that solutions to some of the biggest challenges of this crisis already exist. Innovators have spent a decade building a knowledge base about personalized learning, making it possible to provide greater flexibility in how, when, and where student learning takes place. Coupled with the advocates supporting this legislation, teaching strategies typically reserved for the gifted population would be available to all students. And this legislation, with its focus on teaching all students these advanced thinking skills, along with professional development; to assist teachers use them effectively. One skill, Inquiry Learning, when taught with fidelity, would result in teachers providing choice in learning and tap students’ strengths creating a motivation to learn. Thus, personalizing their learning can become our shared reality.
Expanding that access to learning rich in advanced thinking skills will open the doors in those students’ futures to college and higher paying jobs. And educators would be embracing a stronger strategy to meet students’ needs in the current crisis and to foster rich, more student-centered learning going forward.