Digging In: How to really engage in the achievement gap discussion

October 1, 2016

Ron Anderson, a lifelong resident of Minnesota, is a self-described "privileged, middle-aged white guy" from the suburbs. He holds a doctorate in educational psychology and has spent his entire career in higher education, primarily in the public sector. He currently serves as the Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for the college and universities of Minnesota State, and previously served as president of Century College. He spends his days passionately addressing issues of equity and inclusion in education.

In the area of education (both K-12 and post-secondary), Minnesota has among the largest racial achievement/opportunity gaps between in the nation.  We also have some of greatest economic and health disparities across racial lines. As a state that has historically prided itself on its outstanding education systems and high quality of life, we are living a new reality.  There is a gapping disconnect between who we have been (or who thought we were) and who we are today. It is time for our communities to “dig in” in ways different from that which we see all too often today. Rather than “digging in our heels” and refusing to listen to one another or consider the validity of alternative experiences or points of view, we must “dig in” to deep, difficult discussions that challenge our very understanding of the world. I believe that we must “dig in” to deep racial discussions and genuine engagement and exchange with one another.