Your voice is critical. The time for action is now. At the state capitol and wherever you live, Minnesotans are mobilizing for climate action and renewable energy. Growth & Justice urges you to pitch in however you can, and to register and get involved with us on Clean Energy and Climate Action Day on March 13. The day will begin with advocacy training and breakfast treats at Christ Lutheran Church (kitty-corner and northeast of the State Capitol), continue with visits to legislators, and culminate with a 2 p.m. rally in the Capitol Rotunda. Gov. Tim Walz gave this movement a big boost by fully endorsing the goals of the 100 Percent Campaign last week. Nine states, rural and metro communities, business associations and many of the world’s largest corporations are heeding the increasingly urgent warnings of scientists and joining this movement.
Growth & Justice staff joined scores of Minnesotans who packed a recent Education Policy Committee hearing room to voice support for the Increase Teachers of Color Act – which has a Senate companion and broad bipartisan support. Minnesota’s Ethnic Councils opened the testimony portion with a shared message of support and call-to-action, followed by testimony from teachers of color. Teachers shared their struggles with inclusive workplaces and the burdensome expenses of becoming a teacher, indicating that scholarships and mentorship were key factors that kept them in the profession. The number of racially diverse educators in Minnesota classrooms currently sits stagnant at 4%, but students of color make up 34% of enrollment. A component of the bill will establish a 2% increase-per-year goal, with reporting required. Citing a John Hopkins study, which finds that “Low-income black students who have at least one black teacher in elementary school are significantly more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college,” The Association of Metropolitan School Districts also testified in support. Learn more at tocaimn.com.
A growing number of economists and development experts believe that our progress toward a more equitable prosperity is hampered by over-reliance on crude instruments for measuring economic growth and well-being. These include the Gross Domestic Product, similar bottom-line measures for state income and wealth, tax costs, and employment and poverty measures. These often do not sufficiently emphasize the condition and prevalence of inequality, by race, region and economic class. Nor do they sufficiently take into account environmental quality and overall socio-economic health, and the benefits of public investment. A bi-partisan, bicameral legislative proposal that establishes a new Genuine Progress Indicator fits well with Growth & Justice’s long-standing advocacy for smarter investments that advance racial, regional and environmental equity. Proponents of the legislation include the Ecology Democracy Network and the Center for Sustainable Economy. The latter describes the GPI as “a way to measure and promote economic wellbeing that takes into account income inequality, environmental degradation, and the benefits of public investments in human, social, built and natural capital.”
Many of the most pressing challenges facing Minnesota are neither rural nor metro, they are statewide. For example, our population is growing increasingly diverse, our education achievement gap remains large, and our talent pipeline is shrinking and constraining economic growth. These challenges know no geographic borders. The point is this: We are one state, and the success or failure of the metro and rural regions are inextricably linked. Minnesota is successful because both urban and rural regions contribute significantly to our vibrant economy—and both urban and rural residents recognize that we are always stronger together. – Charlie Weaver, former metro area Republican legislator and Executive Director of the Minnesota Business Partnership, and Tim Penny, former rural DFL congressman and President of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. From their co-authored essay, In Praise of One State, among Letters to the New Governor, published by the Center for Rural Policy and Development.