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home : community : community Tuesday, November 21, 2017

8/10/2016 10:17:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
Asian American Leaders Applaud Minnesota Legislature And Governor Dayton For Making Historic Investments In Education and Economics

By KaYing Yang

Volunteers for the Coalition of Asian American Leaders
The 2016 Legislative Session ends with renewed hope as Governor Mark Dayton signs the Supplemental Budget Bill, which includes provisions that respond to the Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL) top priorities in education and economic development.

The supplemental budget bill includes provisions to address the state's teacher shortage and diversity challenges, investing in early education, and providing student support services. A total of $78 million onetime funding will be invested in 2017, with $25 million dedicated to pre-K. In the 2018-2019 biennium, another $55 million will be given to support pre-K, and $24 million will provide other ongoing investments.

CAAL joined groups calling for teacher diversity, because teachers of color represent only 3.8 percent of the teacher workforce, while 30 percent of students in the state are children of color.

"There is only one Asian American teacher for every 70 Asian American students. That's unacceptable and I'm so glad our state decision makers understand that. This investment to diversify the teaching workforce is important to me and my child," said Song Vang, mother of students in the Minneapolis School District.

Governor Dayton also signed legislation directing the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to post aggregated and disaggregated student growth, learning, and outcome data - based on race, ethnicity, language proficiency, disabilities, poverty, migrant, immigrant, and homeless status, enrollment in foster care and English learner status for purposes of state accountability reports on course completion, rigorous course taking, and student engagement and connection effective for the 2017 school year.

"This is great news for our students and parents. They have been telling us that without systemic disaggregated data, the diversity and needs of sub-populations are hidden. When things are invisible we aren't able to find the best solutions. Consequently, relevant programs are not developed and resources are not directed to communities who face challenges in our communities," said Bo Thao-Urabe, Network Director of CAAL. "We applaud the Legislature and Governor Dayton for making Minnesota a leader in data disaggregation," she added.

Asian American leaders also applaud the $35 million that will now go to support work that addresses the economic disparities in populations of color. Though it is less than the $100 million Governor Dayton called for, Asian Americans will benefit from investments to support workforce development, entrepreneurship and other services to address poverty.

Senator Foung Hawj explained, "While more funding should have been allocated to combat disparities, passing this bill is just the beginning of our efforts to level the playing field for all communities - regardless of color or ethnicity." Senator Hawj added, "The thing that makes our state great is its diversity and acceptance of all people. We can and should do better. Passing legislation to create a more equitable state is a first step. It shows promise that we're on the right track. I'm hopeful for a future that allows all Minnesotans to succeed."

St. Paul, MN


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