Senator Chuck Wiger: Students Are Our Future
“Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we, as a people, can be engaged in.” –Abraham Lincoln
Minnesota students have a Constitutional right to a “general and uniform” education in our public schools.
In the Minnesota Legislature, we have held schools accountable by establishing the following World’s Best Workforce benchmarks:
- All children are ready for school.
- All third-graders can read at grade level.
- All racial and economic achievement gaps between students are closed.
- All students are ready for career and college.
- All students graduate from high school.
Minnesota is making progress toward these goals. Key factors why? Increased investments in education plus great efforts by students, parents, teachers, staff team members and volunteers. Over the last five-year period, the legislature has invested more than $1.4 billion into K-12 education. Last session we invested $483 million, including an additional $121 per student in the Basic Education formula, which is the backbone of Minnesota’s educational funding. Ensuring this kind of commitment continues in the future is vitally important.
Minnesota high school graduation rates continue to trend upward. The most recent rate announced by the Minnesota Department of Education is 82.2 percent. These improving graduation rates were achieved by lots of hard work and targeted resources. To learn more about the graduation rates at your local high school, visit: http://w20.education.state.mn.us/MDEAnalytics/DataTopic.jsp?TOPICID=2
Closer to home, we are fortunate to have school districts in our region that everyone should be proud of. White Bear Lake, North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale, Mahtomedi, Roseville and Intermediate District 916 public school districts boast excellent community support.
Our area also boasts several wonderful two-year community colleges. Century College in White Bear Lake is a great place to start your higher education journey. It offers a wide variety of certificates, diplomas, and associates degrees including training in emerging fields like solar and renewable energy, cybersecurity, virtualization and forensics and dozens of others. Century students can save thousands of dollars by starting their four-year degree at Century and then transferring to Metropolitan State University, the University of Minnesota, St. Thomas University or any of the excellent area colleges and universities.
I am the author of two bills to provide additional funding to Century College. One bill directs $6.4 million for a new applied technology center that will help attract more students and will provide some of the most advanced training space to give students an edge once they graduate. I’ve also authored a bill that would provide the college $2.5 million to address critical remodeling and preservation needs.
The education bills that I am authoring this session cover the topics of:
- Increasing state support for special education to alleviate the cross-subsidy for our public schools
- Reducing education funding disparities (SF 12)
- Giving students the opportunity to take a nationally-normed college entrance exam instead of the high school MCA tests
- Expanding full-service community schools (SF 7)
- Increasing teacher training and development to ensure we have the highest quality teachers in Minnesota classrooms
- Supporting programs to increase third-grade reading proficiency (SF 13)
- Providing capital bonding for Century College remodeling projects
If you are interested in looking up a specific bill you can find that here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/status_search.php?body=Senate
If you are interested in looking up my bills specifically, visit: https://www.senate.mn/members/member_bio.php?mem_id=1067
If you’d like to learn more about the law-making process, visit: http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/publications/billlaw.pdf
Participation in educating our youth happens at many levels across any one community. Local school board members spend long hours on decision-making that has far-reaching effects on our public schools. Likewise, the efforts of parent volunteers and area employers who partner with our schools should not be overlooked or undervalued. In addition to parents and teachers there are administrators, nurses, bus drivers and so many more who can and so make a difference in a child’s education.
Public charter schools and non-public schools also are working hard to prepare students for college and careers.
Lifelong learning through community education is important for all of us, as our brains need to be challenged just as our bodies require exercise to stay healthy and strong. As a resident of a state that has always put education first, I encourage you to read, learn, apply your skills and knowledge, and better yet – teach others. You learn what you teach, and if you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are likely to solidify that learning.
For more information and current updates, visit the Minnesota Department of Education website at education.state.mn.us.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions regarding any issue. I encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. I can be reached by email at email@example.com and by phone at 651-296-6820.