With a 17 Billion dollar surplus piling up in the Minnesota coffers, there will be a lot of public spending in the next few years. The message coming from the Governor’s office is a commitment to make Minnesota the best place to raise a family. This is actually what this state is known for and is near and dear to Minnesotans. Often young people will go explore the rest of the country after college and then return home once it’s time to raise their families.
There is a segment (a set, a group) of Minnesotans whose kids are not doing so well. In fact, they are scoring lower on standardized tests than their compatriots in Mississippi. One can quibble about whether these evaluations are a reflection on the state given how long these kids have been in our school systems. Or one can make excuses for the effects of Covid lockdowns, second language struggles, and general distractions from joy-riding friends. But one thing is for sure- a lot of people are not happy about it.
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say the majority of Minnesotans want these kids to do well. There is pride in not only school performance but public school performance. Most people support public schools. So there should be no problem dumping a whole bunch of cash into the schools, right? Well, no. The Minneapolis school district, educator principal for this group of children already receives $4,610 (35%) more per child than the average MN student. Putting more money into institutions that are failing to perform seems a fool’s errand.
If you ask teachers what their biggest impediment is in the classroom they will often say disruptions. Their instruction time is spent on a few instead of teaching to the crowd. Others say the disruption originates around attendance issues: either showing up late or not at all. And lastly, they express the set backs from issues of disruptive behavior.
Instead of funneling dollars through a massive bureaucracy (trickle down doesn’t work so well) why not pay the kids directly to show up and sit still for a few hours every day? Make it worth their while. Let’s say $50 is paid out every other week. That would only be $900/kid which seems like a drop in the bucket compared to the numbers seen above. Maybe they could even cluster and have special events based on who’s pulling in the best attendance records. Make it fun- kids like fun!
The average Minnesotan wants to see these kids succeed. Kids will respond to incentives. Who knows, maybe the people will even pay more, and give more of themselves and their resources if they see a glimmer of success.