Dayton must stress education

/ 16 October 2012 / eunice

Worthington Daily Globe Editorial, October 16, 2012 – During his Friday visit to Worthington, Gov. Mark Dayton heard concerns from people in a variety of sectors during a meeting at the Biotechnology Advancement Center. Representatives of the business, education and agriculture sectors, not to mention city officials, enjoyed the rare opportunity to share their ideas on how to enhance Worthington, the surrounding area and the rest of the state with Minnesota’s top elected official.

While there many components that make up a high quality of life — and several of them were discussed Friday — it’s seems quite apparent to us that prioritizing education belongs at or very near the top of the list.

When we say “education,” we’re speaking broadly, of course. It should go without saying that starting schooling at a young age is important, and Gov. Dayton has been a steady supporter of boosting early childhood education in Minnesota. But there are many other things at play, particularly in Worthington.

As District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard noted Friday, the Worthington district is second in the state terms of diversity. Gov. Dayton may have help boost per-pupil unit allotments —as he indicated Friday at the meeting as well as during a visit to the Daily Globe — but plenty of work remains to done … and with many districts around the state still asking voters to approve referendums to cover expenses once typically part of general budgets, money remains a challenging factor.

Then there’s education after high school, as well. Jeff Williamson, chair of the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. board, told Dayton of the need to retain southwest Minnesotans who’ve grown up here, with that being done through increased professional training opportunities. The governor suggested that Minnesota West Community and Technical College could help fill that void — and in some ways, it already has thanks to programs for biotechnology lab work and ethanol production, among others.

If we want our region, and Minnesota, to flourish, we need to make ensure a strong commitment to education from pre-kindergarten all the way up through adulthood. Quite simply, such policy helps grow its youths, keep them here, contribute to a prosperous economy and, ultimately, attract the attention of potentially new residents, too.