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This week Education Policy Committee Chair Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) held a major hearing featuring Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota Office of Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor Steve Rosenstone, and representatives from the Mounds View School District who touted Irondale High School’s Early College program.
The hearing set the stage for what will be a robust, ongoing conversation about innovative new strategies to prepare students for the transition from K-12 to post-secondary education and the implications they may have in redesigning K-12 schools collaborating with post-secondary institutions.
Rep. Mariani praised the outside-the-box approach of working across education systems represented by MDE Commissioner Cassellius, MOHE Director Pogemiller, and MnSCU Chancellor Rosenstone’s collaboration. “It’s important that we work together and lay out a vision for equipping students with the support and tools they need to reach their full potential,” said Rep. Mariani.
Testimony from Irondale High School administrators in New Brighton, MN rounded out the discussion by sharing information about their Early College transformation of the school, which provides a strong structure where students participate in blended coursework with area colleges. Students are able to potentially earn an Associate of Arts degree by the time they graduate from 12th grade. This was accomplished with little additional funding, pointing to a new, efficient way of delivering a high school diploma.
“I’m impressed with the strong leadership of Rep. Mariani, Commissioner Cassellius and Chancellor Rosenstone on this issue,” said Larry Pogemiller, Director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. “Their primary focus is doing what is in the best interest of the student.”
MDE Commissioner Brenda Cassellius expressed her desire for a collaborative process aimed at increasing students’ success beyond high school. “I look forward to working closely with the Legislature to ensure every Minnesota student receives a top-notch education, and to make sure all students are well-prepared for success in college, career and beyond.”
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system also plans to be involved in the process, offering a plan that MnSCU Chancellor Steve Rosenstone says will “redesign the way our colleges and universities will work with high schools across the state to ensure that more students are prepared for post-secondary education and can earn college credit while still in high school.” Rosenstone added that the plan will “increase efficiency, reduce the cost of a college education, and ensure that more students are prepared for high demand jobs and professions.”
As the 2013-2014 legislative session continues, Rep. Mariani plans to work with a broad array of communities and stakeholders to better meld K-12 and post-secondary education. “A great education is the key to a strong economy,” said Rep. Mariani. “I’m confident that we can put forward solutions to create equitable opportunities for all kids, improve academic outcomes, and prepare students to succeed.”