July 19, 2013
EDTalks: Not your typical education conversation
Summer intern Katie Spoden provides this recap of the 7/18 EDTalks event:
EDTalks provide an opportunity for people in the Twin Cities to engage on public education issues. They feature two 20-minute presentations with time built in for networking and conversation. The July program featured Emcee Tane Danger from The Theater of Public Policy and presenters, Ted Kolderie of Education|Evolving and Danez Smith of First Wave Hip-Hop & Urban Arts Learning Community.
Kolderie spoke on the topic, “How About We Get Rid of Adolescence?” He expressed concern about the socially created period of life we refer to as adolescence. This prolonged childhood began as a shift away from child labor and towards a longer period of formal education. The problem resulting from this shift is schools have not created enough opportunities for teenagers to act like adults and take on larger responsibilities for their education and future.
The room buzzed with conversation after Kolderie’s presentation, with everyone encouraged to ask their neighbors questions that had been sparked based on the topic. How to motivate students and how to offer practical experience to students in primary and secondary education were topics of interest in an overarching context of why do we have schools full of young adults that we treat like children.
Smith followed Kolderie’s presentation, speaking on the impact of spoken word in education by sharing his story and talents with the audience. Smith began by capturing the audience with his own poem. He talked about opportunities for engaging disengaged youth through spoken word and the arts by giving them the responsibility and opportunity to express themselves and share their talents.
The work Smith does with First Wave provides an opportunity for student-centered learning, in a way that gives students control of their education and the transferable skills to approach all problems in a creative approach.
EDTalks is sponsored by AchieveMpls and The Citizens League in partnership with Twin Cities Public Television, DRIVE Emerging Leaders and Young Education Professionals of the Twin Cities.
June 25, 2013
Electrical energy: Today’s challenges, yesterday’s solutions
President Obama’s speech Tuesday highlighted (again) the enormous challenge of climate change, and the fact that we need to make some major changes in the way we do things. First and foremost on that list of things to change: energy. As the president mentioned, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is part of the solution, but it’s not the whole answer.
We need to use less energy. Period.
Efficiency – specifically in the electrical system – is the focus of work the Citizens League is convening. This is important not only for environmental reasons, as the president laid out, but also because it’s the most cost-effective answer.
Today, the electrical system is incredibly inefficient. Somewhere between 60 and 90 percent of the energy that goes into the system is wasted.
And the electrical system is being bombarded by all kinds of other pressures. Our infrastructure is old and much needs to be replaced, which means we have big decisions to make. Technology is moving fast – creating new demands, new ways to meet them, and new expectations from customers. And, for the first time, electrical energy use is actually not growing. (Why this is so important will become clear in just a minute.)
Bottom line: The electrical world is changing. And we’re facing this new world with yesterday’s solutions.
In the last century, the United States was electrifying. The country needed to get more electricity to more people in more places for more uses. Out of this need grew our regulated monopoly utilities. In this setup, utilities are given a monopoly over a certain territory and expected to deliver all the electricity the customers in this area ever use. (And to meet these needs at the speed of light.)
In exchange, utilities are allowed to make enough money to stay in business and, for investor-owned utilities, provide a return on investment to their shareholders. Utilities make this money in two ways: Through customers’ bills and, for investor-owned utilities, through the return on investments in infrastructure.
Both of these sources of revenue require selling more electricity – to earn more from bills and to create the need for investments in new infrastructure like power plants. Sell less, and it threatens utilities’ sustainability as a business. And, with today’s flat demand, some utilities are already facing this problem.
This worked great when expansion was the goal – but today, the goal is the opposite. We need to conserve and be more efficient.
All this points to a huge question: What is the utility model for this new reality? A model that builds in market incentives for efficiency? A model that makes efficiency align with the bottom line for utilities and their customers?
Minnesota is taking the lead in answering this question. Since 2010, the Citizens League has been convening Minnesota utilities, businesses, environmentalists, government leaders, and unaffiliated citizens to set an electrical energy vision for the state and figure out the best way to get there.
We’re in the middle of this process now – the messy and exciting part. Contact me if you’re interested or want to get involved (email@example.com, 651-289-1072), and stay tuned.
June 27, 2013
Civic virtue, school reform, and the creation of real wealth
What have we learned by enacting laws against bullying or noncompliance with racial integration; or laws addressing curriculum standards or student assessment, school funding, and the testing of teachers?
In this web-only article (pdf) from the next Minnesota Journal, H. Michael Hartoonian, scholar-in-residence at Hamline University in St. Paul, writes about schools and how we can start to resolve some of their problems by changing them from “spaces” to “places.”
From the article:
“What we want for the brightest we should equally want for all our children. Schools don’t seem to understand this, and as the public schools become ever more private in their focus on the individual child and employment skills, it is problematic as to whether the public school is, indeed, public. In addition, citizens hear critics make the claim that schools are unattractive, rule driven, and unfriendly to deep learning. Not the attributes of an enlightened community or nation.”
Read the full article here (pdf).
July 12, 2013
Get on the bus for intentional networking and authentic connections
The following guest blog entry is from Wendy Helgeson (@wendyhelg on Twitter)
Twelve years ago the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce realized the need to galvanize our civic leaders to think regionally, and decided that relationship building was the best way to bring the two urban communities together. They developed the InterCity Leadership Visit (ICLV), which is an annual trip to another destination to study civic issues. This three-day program is an exercise in collaborative thinking and intentional networking.
Initially the group focused on business-led initiatives, which sparked the creation of the Itasca Project. Then, discussions focused on regional transit funding and also sports facilities as community amenities. The best outcome was the business, nonprofit and government sector civic leader network that now works together on regional solutions back in Minnesota.
The past few ICLV trips have increasingly focused on attracting and retaining new talent to our region and how to engage and support emerging leaders in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The Citizens League felt it was time to create an opportunity for emerging leaders that would develop new talent poised and prepared to engage in civic issues. They created the Generation Now Leadership Visit (GNLV) which is a three-day trip to Milwaukee,
Aug. 14-16, 2013.
Professional development is an important part of mentoring rising community leaders. However many networking opportunities today try to be all things to all people – affordable, limited time commitment and “fun.” Everyone runs around, collects a few business cards and perhaps learns a quick tidbit about our community or a new tool or concept they are encouraged to try on their own. This leads to lots of interaction, but no connections.
The GNLV is a way to authentically connect to like-minded peers and develop a genuine and personal network that will successfully support you for years to come. While on the bus, standing in line for a breakfast buffet, or on a tour of an entrepreneurial incubator, discussions occur organically and ideas are shared that spark innovative solutions. While the topics and community issues are interesting and informative, they “level” the playing field and everyone is encouraged to weigh-in. Arts focused leaders weigh in on water initiatives, economic development experts chat about education and everyone thinks about new solutions to old challenges.
If you are interested in connecting to your community, creating an authentic professional network and have a genuine interest in developing into a civic leader, then this is the trip for you! For 12 years, ICLV participants have said that the trip is the best investment they make each year. Everyone says “I just accomplished a year’s worth of meetings and conference calls in three days!”
If you are an emerging leader or mid-career adult, don’t delay – get on the bus and join us in Milwaukee. Less than 20 spots remain and registration closes on July 16. Click here for more information, a copy of the itinerary or to register.
What interesting initiatives have you tried for professional development and networking building? Was it worth the investment? Share your experiences with me, I’d love to hear about them.
July 18, 2013
What passage of the Minnesota Prosperity (Dream) Act means
So now that it has become law and the University of Minnesota has adopted its provisions, what does the Minnesota Prosperity Act do, really?
It provides students who are already here, who have successfully completed high school, and who want to go on to higher education, with access to in-state tuition and financial aid like all other Minnesota high school students.
In so doing, we not only maximize the investment Minnesota has already made in their K-12 education, but also maximize their ability to contribute to the future economic success of the state.
Minnesota has one of the largest achievement gaps in the country between the academic performance of white students and students of color, a concerning statistic when one considers that students of color will be integral to bridge the workforce gap created by Minnesota’s rapidly aging population.
Similar policies enacted in other states have proven to increase non-citizen enrollment in high education and correlated with large decreases in high school dropouts among non-citizen students.
Who is directly affected and how?
Students who meet the criteria in the Prosperity Act will be eligible to apply for the following benefits:
- In-state resident tuition rates at public colleges and universities regardless of immigration status.
- State financial aid available to students who meet state residency requirements, regardless of immigration status.
- Privately funded financial aid through public colleges and universities regardless of immigration status.
These benefits will be available to undocumented students who meet the following criteria:
- Attended a Minnesota high school for at least 3 years; and
- Graduated from a Minnesota high school or earned a GED in Minnesota; and
- Complied with Selective Service registration requirements (applies only to male students born after 1960); and
- Provide documentation to show they have applied for lawful immigration status but only if a federal process exists for a student to do so (does not include applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). There is currently not a federal process in place, so this documentation is not currently required.
In July 2013, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education will open an online application specifically for these students. Currently, undocumented students are not allowed to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This Minnesota application will delink federal funding from state funding so students can access state financial aid and in-state tuition.
Even with federal immigration reform looking more likely, state action to open educational access was necessary. Even if federal reform includes federal financial aid for these students (which is unlikely), states still need to pass legislation to allow some of their undocumented youth (including students who quality for Deferred Action) to pay resident tuition and/or access state-based financial aid.
The Prosperity Act benefits students going to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities schools, the University of Minnesota system, and Minnesota’s Private Colleges, as well as students from Minnesota who attend a school in Wisconsin, North Dakota or South Dakota, due to reciprocity agreements.
For more details, including information for DACA students and a video, visit the Minnesota Office of Higher Education MN Dream Act page.
What are the unintended benefits?
Passage of the Prosperity Act creates four unintended benefits. First, it makes Minnesota more welcoming and a better state for all. We are going to see huge demographic changes in the coming years. Minnesota cannot afford to project a hostile narrative if we want to stay competitive and welcoming to a diverse future workforce.
Second, the Prosperity Act will allow students to see beyond high school. When I was in high school, many friends and I didn’t think we could go to college because of our immigration status – many of us never finished, weren’t told we could, didn’t take advantage of existing opportunities (i.e. PSEO). Knowing that going to college will be easier to finance if they graduate from high school (thanks to this law) is a huge incentive for students – regardless of immigration status – to stay in school.
Third, the Prosperity Act streamlines information. For many years, we have struggled to make sure students were getting the right information from their counselors and other education professionals. At times, students were told they couldn’t go to college, and in some instances, high school counselors never realized undocumented students were in the school.
Moreover, the passage of the Prosperity Act means more students will benefit from federal immigration reform. Federal immigration reform, when it passes, may allow students who have resided in the US and gone to college/military to join a fast-track to legal status. Now that more Minnesota students will be able to attend college, there will be more students who will qualify.
What are the next steps?
We need to be creative in taking the next steps in leveraging the true potential of the Prosperity Act.
We need state-wide training for that provides tools to serve all of their students, regardless of immigration status. Comprehensive conversations about accessing higher education for students across the spectrum of immigration statuses must be facilitated at all levels because students get their information from various places and not just one.
Public colleges and universities must systematically open doors to private dollars for undocumented students. Staff in public colleges and universities must relook at their private dollar financial aid policies to accommodate this new pool of students. This is also a new opportunity for fundraising for this specific group of students.
High schools and public and private colleges and universities in Minnesota must create safe environments and support systems within campuses for undocumented students. These students do not fall under one ethnic group or one category of type of student. Campuses must strategically create spaces for these students where they feel safe, welcome.
Public and private colleges and universities campuses in Minnesota should have undocumented student liaisons (high schools can have similar people). This will be the go-to person/people at each campus. Not everyone will be an expert at every campus, but there should be one or more people who have the knowledge it takes to work with undocumented students and their families.
Minnesota Private Colleges and Universities in Minnesota should adopt immigrant-friendly admissions and financial aid policies.
Foundations should award private dollars to undocumented students. Some foundations do award scholarships to students, regardless of immigration status. However, many undocumented students still do not qualify for scholarships from most foundations, companies, etc. Those places should develop application processes that encompass all Minnesota students.
This is about creating an equal playing field. There are many roadblocks that can easily be removed and Minnesota should take leadership to ensure better education outcomes for all our students.
The Prosperity Act is only a piece of a bigger puzzle. We need to reevaluate where we are and continue to build a better future for all Minnesota students. To learn more about what Minnesota can do to meet our future workforce demands through increased participation from immigrant students, read the 2009 Citizens League report.
There will be a series of workshops for students, families, and staff to learn more about the MN Prosperity/Dream Act. Stay up-to-date here: www.navigatemn.org