‘Colleges create hope for northern Minnesota’

This Sunday I had an op-ed in the Duluth News Tribune. The topic: the state higher education funding bill being debated right now in St. Paul. The headline: “Colleges create hope for northern Minnesota.’

After going through the role higher education played in Northern Minnesota history, I look at the advantages of investing in higher education during the current budget surplus:

As automation and globalization continue to affect employment, your network of community and technical colleges are the first line of defense for people who want to stay here. Preparing graduates for new technology and encouraging them to develop their own entrepreneurial ideas will save this area from economic collapse.

You or your son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter can still attend a Minnesota college and emerge with minimal student loan debt. That will allow you or them to buy homes earlier, pay off cars, better support families, and live with economic freedom.

Minnesota community, technical, and four-year colleges are a frugal, high-quality option. Our ancestors knew they were a wise investment and entrusted them to us. We must not allow ideology or poor planning make it harder for the next generation.

There is no one narrative to describe the people of northern Minnesota today. Politically, we don’t agree about much. Some work in the natural resources industries that started more than a century ago. Others write computer code and design technology that saves lives. Some chop trees. Others build new businesses. One thing we have in common is that higher education is here to support us all.

You can read the whole piece here.

I haven’t written much about the state legislature here at MinnesotaBrown this spring. Frankly, it’s been a tough topic to figure out this year. I’m hoping to visit some of the regional implications of the budget deals once they emerge.

Meantime, this 2013 piece explores my thoughts about teaching at a community college. It’s important to periodically remind folks that I don’t make a living writing a blog. I’m a full time communication instructor at Hibbing Community College. I view my work here, my work in the arts, and my teaching as all part of the same mission.


  1. If nothing else, a good education is a good ticket out of the area for the ever declining number of school age kids around here.

  2. Gerald S says

    I would add that the university system is also a major driving engine of Minnesota’s economy. It contributes large numbers of trained workers available as employees for growing or new businesses, both by educating Minnesotans and by drawing people from out of the state and even out of the country who will provide necessary skills for business. In addition, the university has provided the research that has been the source of much of Minnesota’s wealth and caused the creation of many of our most successful businesses and largest employers, from the taconite process to medical electronics. When we fail to provide for that in the future, we are killing the goose that laid the golden egg and turning ourselves into West Virginia with a bad wind chill.

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