State Education Commissioner Talks With Community In Grand Rapids About Public School Needs
Minnesota Education Commissioner Mary Ricker listened to people as they spoke about their hopes and dreams for the future of Grand Rapids Public Schools at the Reif Center earlier today.
She talked with educators, families, and the community about what goals they have for their students and teachers.
“The sort of support the community wants our students to have because they want to break down barriers for our students, they want to make sure our students have every opportunity possible,” Ricker said.
During the meeting, the discussions revolved around the diversity within the schools, minimizing class sizes, and students mental health and safety needs.
“The mental health needs of our students have grown dramatically in the last generation,” Ricker said. “In that our students are coming to school with more and more on their plate, that they are trying to navigate that get in the way of some of the academic work I would try to do and make as an English language arts teacher.”
Ricker also briefly spoke about the increasing work to diversify teaching after someone in the audience asked about diversity training in the workforce.
“Our whole pathway into teaching was treated like an afterthought. You know, school districts would post a job and they would cross their fingers that enough people applied and then they were qualified and you would hire one of them. We have changed the conversation in the state of Minnesota where recruiting people into a career in teaching is not an afterthought anymore, and diversifying our teaching force at the same time is part of that priority of recruiting people into teaching,” Ricker said.
Ricker has been on her listening tour since January and has visited dozens of schools across Minnesota to promote Governor Tim Walz’s proposed education budget.
Ricker said the most common themes she’s noticed people are most concerned about are the mental health of students and their well being and making sure they are in a welcoming environment.
“To really mark that point in time to say here is what’s changed, here’s why we have to look at our public schools in a sophisticated way to determine what does it take to meet the needs of our students today, not 30 years ago when I was a student in our public schools,” Ricker said.