Thursday, April 9, 2009

The miracle of education

In class it was mentioned that the U.S spend about $8,000 dollars per year on each child in the K-12 education system. In MN, the number is comparable, at $7,796 per child per year as of 2007.
However, Minnesota seems to use their money more efficiently than most other states with one of the highest graduation rates across the U.S with an 87% graduation rate within four years of starting the 9th grade.

Despite Minnesota ranking only 29th in FY 2005 for K-12 expenditure as percentage of income and spend $1.95 less per $1000 of income compared to the national average, Minnesota ranked #1 in academic achievement in 2007-2008.

As much as Minnesota's K-12 education seems to be in fairly good shape compared to the national average, the state is lagging behind when it comes to graduation rates among minorities. This is particularly true for the black and hispanic minority.

Looking at historical trends it seems there is reason to fear for the State's K-12 education quality. According to the think tank 'Minnesota 2020' the state's education system is slipping and is no longer the benchmark that the 'Minnesota Miracle' produced, but no more than average or mediocre.

Minnesota's Slip Toward Mediocrity from Minnesota 2020 on Vimeo.

Is the time ripe for a "new Minnesota Miracle" or do we need to realize that the education system should perhaps not be about miracles but considerate, consistent, well-thought-through policies that reflects the importance of K-12 education?

After all, The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has found that dollars invested in Early Childhood Education "yield extraordinary public returns".


  1. Thanks for the post Nina -- I think this brings up many debated points in education research (how graduation rates are calculated, per-pupil spending, standardized testing, etc). Most importantly though, it really provokes the question of what exactly makes up an "excellent education"? Often times it depends on who's defining it. Does a higher per-pupil spending rate really create a better education? It certainly helps...but the rate alone doesn't always equate to higher achievement (DC consistently disproves that theory:

    Higher resources do tend to help in education, but I doubt that throwing more money at the districts alone will really close the achievement gap...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Here's the abbreviated URL:

  4. Nina, nice post. Very informative. BTW, I reformatted a little bit and reduced the extra space.

  5. Nina, a revised and more specific title will make the post even better. Could you think of one?