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Minnesota State chancellor visits Worthington

Devinder Malhotra shared state college and universities' shared goal of eliminating education equity gaps by 2030.

Minn State chancellor Devinder
Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra visits with Minnesota West Community and Technical College students and staff Wednesday afternoon at the Worthington campus. (Alyssa Sobotka/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Eliminating education equity gaps that stand in the way of students earning a degree was the focus of Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra’s Wednesday visit to Minnesota West Community & Technical College and Independent School District 518.

Before a crowd of Minnesota West students and staff at Worthington’s campus, Malhotra said colleges and universities of the Minnesota State system share a common goal and are united in the effort to eliminate educational equity gaps by 2030.

“It’s of moral imperative,” he said Equity 2030, which carries the goal of ensuring all Minnesotans have the same likelihood of achievement. “It’s also economically imperative.”

The goal is focused on three primary groups of students — first-generation, those of a certain socio-economic status and ethnically diverse — to work toward total equity. The goal is for higher education to be more accessible to under-represented populations, who Malhotra said are known to be critical contributors to the state’s workforce and future vitality.

Among the barriers standing in the way of achieving a more level playing field include housing and food insecurity, jobs and access to daycare that’s affordable and flexible.

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The reality of those barriers is that about 30% of students at higher education institutions drop out of college between their first and second years, Malhotra said. Many of those students are in good academic standing, but external factors and resources available dictate if they're able to continue their education.

Malhotra said working toward an equitable system is nothing new, but the unified approach is a unique strategy in an attempt to maximize future strength.

“So that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” he said.

That cohesive nature was exemplified during a visit earlier Wednesday morning to District 518 to learn about the school’s one-of-a-kind teacher pathway program.

Malhotra called the program, which is giving high school students a more defined path toward becoming a teacher in an attempt to diversify the future teaching pool, a success that could be emulated at other locations across the state.

One student suggested that changes be made at the legislative level to reduce some of the “red tape” that exists between an applicant and state programs or resources. He’d also like to see better retention of available opportunities.

Other suggestions from the crowd of staff and students were increasing access to the internet and technology and making changes to program criteria to allow more flexibility in how available funds may be awarded to students that need it.

Other Minnesota State representatives included Board of Trustee Ashlyn Anderson and Kumara Jayasuriya, Southwest Minnesota State University president.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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