Too often, conversations about K-12 educational reform center solely on the classroom, targeting issues such as teaching structure, curriculum and class size. But while creating an optimal learning space is important, a meaningful and positive school experience involves a lot more than what happens inside a classroom.
Nonclassroom school service providers — such as counselors, attendance or hallway monitors, and school psychologists — are crucial to making sure students stay in school and that they feel welcome, safe and ready to learn. Unfortunately, Minnesota does not value these services enough. Our schools spend a smaller percentage of education dollars on these “wrap-around” services than any other state in the country.
This lack of attention to student support services has contributed to our state’s staggering educational disparities. Minnesota’s students of color experience some of the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation.
Schools in Minnesota don’t have the resources to notice which students are struggling or frequently skipping class. When nobody cares, it’s no surprise if these students stop attending school altogether.
People of color are the fastest-growing segment of Minnesota’s workforce. In order to build a strong and equitable economy, we need more people with high school degrees. Minnesota can’t afford to ignore its educational disparities any longer.
Implementing a statewide minimum standard for nonclassroom support services will catch students who are at risk of falling through our education system’s cracks. During this session, the state Legislature needs to prioritize wrap-around services.