Young people in Minnesota — specifically members of the Minnesota Youth Council — have the right and responsibility, recognized in state law, to provide advice and recommendations to state legislators and the governor on issues affecting youth.
A few weeks ago, 175 young people in grades 5 through 12 attended Youth Day at the Capitol in St. Paul, asking well-researched questions and offering clear opinions on the availability of before- and after-school programs for students from low-income families, voter turnout, access to quality data, and high school graduation requirements.
A co-sponsor of the day’s events, Minnesota Alliance With Youth, recently received a $200,000 grant through the GradNation State Activation Initiative, a collaboration between America’s Promise Alliance and Pearson to raise graduation rates. Through GradMinnesota, Minnesota Alliance With Youth is working to close statewide graduation gaps for students of color, low-income students, English language learners and students with disabilities.
This picture gallery highlights key moments from a powerful day of youth advocacy and a national model of youth civic engagement. (Photo Credit: Judy Griesedieck)
Council members asked:
· “What happens to the data stored after students graduate?”
· “How would data be kept anonymous when used for research purposes?”
· “What is the estimated cost of developing the Digital Backpack?”
This bill was ultimately endorsed with a 23–0 vote.
Council members asked:
· “How will adding this requirement help Minnesota improve its poor graduation rate?”
· “How are we guaranteeing students learn what they need to know?”
· “Would it make more sense to restructure civics education instead of adding a new test as a graduation requirement?”
· “Does this test really measure civic engagement?”
Sponsors of Youth Day at the Capitol include Minnesota Alliance With Youth, IgniteAfterschool, Youthprise, YWCA of Minneapolis, Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC) & Minnesota School-Age Care Alliance (MnSACA), Minnesota Community Education Association (MCEA), and Kids Voting St. Paul.
This article is part of the “What’s Working” series, which highlights promising practices for helping to close the graduation gap in communities and states across the country.
To get more news about graduation rates and effective practices to improve them, join the GradNation Learning Community. Just send an email to Corey Benjamin with your name, email address and organizational affiliation.