Walz announces sweeping education plan amid ongoing pandemic

Monday, Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan unveiled a new education plan for Minnesota.

The "Due North Education Plan" aims to ensure every child receives a high-quality education, regardless of location and race, Walz and Flanagan said.

"As a former classroom teacher for over 20 years, I’ve seen firsthand how a high-quality education shapes students’ lives for years to come," Walz said. "The Due North Education Plan guides us toward a future where every child receives a high-quality education, no matter their race or zip code."

Flanagan said the COVID-19 has exacerbated disparities in education across the state, especially along racial and geographic lines. They hope the education plan will help students recover from the learning loss students suffered during the pandemic while closing the opportunity gap.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has not deterred us from bold, intentional education reform; it has emphasized its urgency," Flanagan said. "While we’ve seen incredible innovation from teachers and administrators in this moment, we’ve also seen already existing opportunity gaps widen along the lines of race and zip code exacerbated by the pandemic. The time to reimagine what education can look like in Minnesota is now. The Due North Education Plan sets a course so that all of our children can see themselves reflected and valued in their classrooms and curriculum."

Included in the plan are actions to support students during and after the pandemic, reform school financing, expand opportunities for students in Greater Minnesota and build a more qualified and diverse teaching workforce.

The plan outlines seven priorities:

  • Meet the needs of students during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,
  • Ensure every student receives a world-class education,
  • Ensure every student learns in a safe and nurturing environment,
  • Ensure every student learns in a classroom with caring and qualified teachers,
  • Expand access to opportunities for students of color and Indigenous students,
  • Expand access to opportunities for students in Greater Minnesota,
  • Fund a 21st-century education.

However, no specific details behind the plan were given.

Walz and Flanagan said the education plan was developed with input and ideas from Minnesotans and state education officials, including the Governor’s Education Roundtable, the School Finance Working Group and educators, students and families across the state.

"In order for there to be fundamental change in our education system we must also change the way we fund it," Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker said. "The proposals from the School Finance Working Group that are embedded in the Due North Plan will help ensure that students across Minnesota will receive the same educational opportunities not matter where they live in our state."

"The Minnesota Department of Education is dedicated to supporting our students and their learning every single day," Deputy Commissioner Heather Mueller added. "The Minnesota Department of Education’s Strategic Plan includes strategies that will accomplish the goals of the Due North Education Plan and create an education system that is student-centered, removes structural barriers, provides the best teacher workforce, and fosters safe and welcoming environments in every school in Minnesota."

Justice Alan page also attended Monday’s news conference, saying changes to the current education system are needed, particularly to help children of color and other marginalized students.

"For me, this is about justice. Our educational system has systematically failed children of color, Indigenous, disabled, and poor children," Page said. "It is important that the plan recognizes this failure, and acknowledges that systemic change is needed. It is also important that the plan calls for putting children first so every child has the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential."