Perspectives: As the Schools Go, So Goes the City

A note from  Michael Goar, executive director, Generation Next


The economic vitality of the Twin Cities is connected to the quality and effectiveness of our public school system: as the schools go, so goes the city. Quality public schools improve the local economy and attract business. Schools educate the local labor force and increase the area’s quality of life by attracting skilled workers. Educated individuals enjoy a higher standard of living and increased social capital.

The residents and businesses of Minneapolis and St. Paul have historically supported the educational system but today we need an  “all hands on deck” effort. Our students must be surrounded by effective teachers, empowered principals, focused school districts, engaged parents and guardians and a supportive community. Generation Next engages parents and the community to partner with schools in improving student achievement and graduation rates — and with only half of our students graduating, there’s much work to do.

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Research on student performance indicates that about 20 percent of the variance in performance is related  to the classroom (teachers and teaching) and about 20 percent is related to the school culture, facilities and principal leadership. The remaining 60% is related to student motivation, peer pressure, resiliency and family background.

Although there are more than 500 distinct programs and over $96 million in private philanthropy dedicated to education-related efforts for Minneapolis and St. Paul public school children, we aren’t seeing the gap narrow.

At Generation Next, we believe the solution is to connect people and organizations with best practices that will support public schools as an important economic tool to build the local economy. We recently launched the first of two action networks to identify what’s working in Minneapolis and St. Paul and align people and organizations with best practices locally and nationally. Through this unprecedented gathering of partners, we have the opportunity to build comprehensive and data driven outcomes based on the collective insights of community partners.

Join us in this work to improve our schools and improve our cities. Click here to get more involved.

SIF 2015