Minnesota educators better than stated

Published 9:31 am Monday, December 1, 2014

Minnesota students are among the best in the world in math and science, despite what readers of the Albert Lea Tribune might have read in a letter to the editor that claimed, “education in America has slipped badly on the world stage.”

The claim was made without citing a source and so must be taken with a grain of salt. I won’t make the same mistake when I take a moment to brag about the students in the public schools in Minnesota.

Minnesota participates as a state in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which allows us to compare Minnesota eighth-graders against their peers around the world, the United States as a whole and in a few other U.S. states.

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In mathematics, the international average score was 500 on the most recent test. The U.S. average was 509. The Minnesota average was 545. Only three other countries and one U.S. state scored higher than our Minnesota students.

Now consider science. The international average score was 500 again. The U.S. average was 525. The Minnesota average was 553. Students in only two other countries in the world scored higher than our Minnesota kids.

The letter writer also claimed that because our schools were failing, Minnesota should eliminate due process protections for teachers and pass out vouchers for private schools. Fortunately for Minnesota students and families, the facts just don’t support him.

The best available data show our students are doing very well compared with the rest of the world, but that’s no reason to be complacent. We still have difficult issues to address, including reducing the number of Minnesota children living in poverty, (which is now about 40 percent, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation), reducing achievement gaps and attracting and retaining the best people to teach.

The educators in the Albert Lea Education Association and our state union, Education Minnesota, are committed to preparing our children for successful lives. We will need the help of an informed public. I hope writers in the future will be more careful about criticizing the hard work of Minnesota’s educators and students.


Al Helgerson

Albert Lea