Minnesota's achievement gap

Minnesota educators, policymakers, and teachers are wringing their hands over an Education Week report on the state's high school graduation rates. According to the Star Tribune:
Fewer than half of Minnesota's black high school students end up getting their high school diplomas, according to a new study by Education Week magazine. That's a graduation rate for black students that's one of the lowest in the country, further evidence that a big achievement gap exists between Minnesota's white students and students of color.

Predictably, liberals and progressives believe that this problem can and should be solved by government; specifically, raising taxes to fund massive expansions of early childhood programs and mandatory preschool, and redistributing wealth from rich to poor. They believe that society's ills can be fixed by government.

Conservatives, as Ronald Reagan said, believe that "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." They believe that society can and should be advanced through culture and values such as family and faith.

In 2004, Bill Cosby delivered a surprising, hard-hitting, and controversial take on the achievement gap on the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. It was a condemnation of the gangsta culture that pervades much of black society.
...Brown versus Board of Education: Where are we today? They paved the way, but what did we do with it? That white man, he's laughing. He's got to be laughing: 50 percent drop out, the rest of them are in prison.

Interestingly, the Education Week report does not include Minnesota race and ethnicity graduation rates for any group other than white and black. But it does list national data:

  • American Indian/Alaska Native (national): 47.4%

  • Asian Pacific Islander (national): 77.0%

  • Hispanic (national): 55.6%

  • Black (Minnesota/national): 43.6/51.6%

  • White (Minnesota/national): 83.1/76.2%

Why is the national Asian graduation rate higher than the rate for whites? Is it because more Asians are enrolled in preschool programs than whites? Do they receive better government programs than blacks? I would guess that the reason for this, and the reason that so many winners of academic competitions have eastern Indian, Chinese, and Korean family names, is that staying in school, learning English, getting a job, and delaying pregnancy are high priorities in those cultures.

Government may be part of the solution, after all the public schools are run by the government, but the achievement gap won't narrow dramatically until things change dramatically at home.