Jobs summit highlights need support

Never has it been more important than now to support K–12 education.
Those who fail to graduate, we’re told, will be lost in the new normal years ahead, where employers will be seeking high school graduates with at least one year of post-high school education.
Experts are telling us that by the year 2018, 78 percent of all jobs in Minnesota will require post-high-school education.
During Gov. Mark Dayton’s summit conference on jobs last week, one of the key messages is there are jobs available but there is a shortage of people with the correct skills to fill those positions.
Tom Gillapsy, state demographer, said this state graduates 75 percent of its students compared to 98 percent in the past. Minnesota is dead last in rate of graduations for African Americans.
He said already there is a huge difference in skills needed for the next four years.
All of this is a backdrop for the Tuesday, Nov. 8 elections across Minnesota when voters will be making critical decisions for the students in their communities. Every student should have the same opportunity for a quality education as every other student in the state.
This is not the case in Minnesota, where students in the “have” communities have an advantage over students in the “have-not” communities.
A student’s opportunity for having equal educational opportunities should not depend upon where he or she lives.
For example, in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, the range in revenues for the average student goes from $7,847 per pupil to $13,503, with the average at $10,546.
One reason for this inequity is that many school districts have these extra operating levies because their residents voted for them. Their students have more revenue which gives them the potential for a higher quality education.
This year the Minnesota Legislature has granted $5,174 in state basic aid per pupil unit. That, however, does not mean that this is the revenue per student in reality, primarily because most school districts have approved their operating levies which gives more money per pupil.
The Legislature in its wisdom gives more state aid per student where there is a determination of high poverty, mainly in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
In addition, school districts get unequal federal aid, mainly for special education, and from local property taxes.
The bottom line is there is no greater community obligation than providing the best education for their students. — Don Heinzman, ECM Publishers