Minnesota frequently leads many of the “smartest state” rankings, as well as those more controversial lists that pit one state against another when it comes to standardized testing. Regardless of the list du jour, we definitely have smart, well-educated people living here.
More than one in every three adults aged 25 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree last year—the 10th highest proportion of a state’s population nationwide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. And like most well-educated states, Minnesota residents with a higher education were far less likely to live in poverty. Just 3.2 percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree lived below the poverty line last year, less than in all but two other states. Thanks in large part to that advanced education, Minnesota households were also quite a bit wealthier—a full 24 percent higher than the nationwide median household income of $52,250.
One reason that we repeatedly earn these honors is that this area offers great educational choices. Between our top-notch public school system, our wealth of private school offerings, schools specializing in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and first-rate private and public colleges and universities statewide, you’re bound to find the perfect fit.
Photo courtesy of Saint Paul Public Schools
To make an informed decision about your child’s public school education, it’s important to be aware of the options. Minneapolis Public Schools identifies a variety of typical and non-typical options, including community, alternative, magnet, Montessori, open, immersion, and charter schools.
Charter schools are independent public schools sponsored by a school district, university, the state, or a nonprofit organization, providing a unique option for students. Minnesota was actually the birthplace for the charter school movement back in 1991. Today, there are more than 150 charter schools across the state (although more than 60 percent of them are located in the greater metro area), enrolling nearly 45,000 students. In Minnesota, these schools are tuition-free and open to all students regardless of ability or need. They are governed and operated jointly by licensed teachers, parents, and community members, and provide opportunities for students with specific talents or interests.
Among the immersion options available in the Twin Cities metro area is Park Spanish Immersion School in St. Louis Park, which promotes bilingualism in Spanish and English, with students learning to speak the language fluently enough to master core academic subjects in it. Minnetonka Public Schools also offers an immersion option. When entering kindergarten, families can elect to enroll in English, Chinese, or Spanish immersion programs, an option that was first introduced in 2007 and has since been extended to middle school students. Minnetonka is the only middle school in the state, and one of few in the nation, to offer this option. The school is a great choice outside of immersion as well, with a 99 percent parent approval rate and some of the highest test scores in the metro, including an average ACT score of 26.3. Other immersion schools abound throughout the metro area for Mandarin Chinese (Minneapolis and St. Paul), French (St. Louis Park, Edina, St. Paul and Minneapolis), German (St. Paul), and Spanish (New Hope, Fridley, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Cottage Grove).
Many suburban public schools offer standout athletics as well as a strong educational curriculum. Edina High School has won more than 150 state athletic championships, including boys’ hockey, and girls’ tennis and golf. The school’s athletic program was rated No. 8 in the nation by Sports Illustrated magazine.
While our public schools are exceptional, are private schools also provide a caring, challenging, nurturing, safe and secure environment for students.
In Minnesota there are 94,876 children enrolled in some 650 private schools, with those varying in size from just a handful of students to those enrolling more than 1,000. Independent from government, these schools have the flexibility to create specialized programs for their students and the freedom to design their own curriculum and assessment system to suit the needs of students and parents.
For some, religiously affiliated schools are appealing. The Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield is a Catholic high school educating about 700 students. Two other popular local Catholic private schools are Benilde-St. Margaret’s, which has 1,184 students in grades seven through 12, and Cretin-Derham Hall, the largest private Catholic school in the state (1,320 students) and the alma mater of Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer. Minnehaha Academy, a Christian school dedicated to students for nearly a century, has two campuses in Minneapolis. Hill Murray in Maplewood, Holy Family in Victoria, and Bethany Academy in Bloomington also offer religious-influenced education.
In the capitol city, St. Paul Academy and Summit School, formed in 1969 when St. Paul Academy for boys and St. Paul Summit for girls merged, is a non-denominational coeducational school that enrolls close to 900 students from kindergarten through 12th grade, with an average class size of 15. The school offers a challenging academic program that inspires students to achieve excellence at every grade level.
For a different nonsectarian private school experience, take a look at The Blake School. Blake is an independent, coeducational, pre-kindergarten through
grade 12 school located on three campuses in Minneapolis (9-12), Hopkins (preK-5, 6-8), and Wayzata (preK-5). The school enrolls about 1,377 students with an average class size of 15-16. They are dedicated to arts and athletics and feature a strong educational curriculum.
The Breck School in Minneapolis offers students another education alternative. Breck is divided into three academic divisions, each headed by a separate director. The Lower School includes grades preschool through four; the Middle School comprises grades five through eight; and the Upper School includes grades nine through 12.
For children with special interests, exciting options await students and their families. The International School of Minnesota in Eden Prairie is one such place where students get a chance to broaden their horizons. Teaching students pre-kindergarten through 12, the school prepares its students to be global citizens. The faculty and student body have international backgrounds, representing more than 49 counties.
Photo courtesy of Macalester College
There are two systems of public higher education in the state—the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, with 54 campuses across the state.
There are five U of M campuses in the Twin Cities, Duluth, Crookston, Morris, and Rochester areas, and the university is home to Carlson School of Management, Medical School, and Law School (boastsing one of the highest bar passage rates in the nation). The U of M also ranks as one of the top research universities in the nation). We also have some outstanding private colleges in the state. Carleton College, located in Northfield, tied for No. 7 on U.S. News & World Report’s (USN&WR) 2015 list of the nation’s best liberal arts colleges, joined by Hamline University in St. Paul, ranked No. 12, St. Catherine University at No. 13, and Macalester College, coming in at No. 24.
Augsburg College in Minneapolis ranked as one of the “Best in the Midwest” colleges on The Princeton Review’s 2015 Best Colleges: Region by Region list, and the School of Law at the University of St. Thomas grabbed two top 10 honors from The Princeton Review for Best Professors (No. 8) and best quality of life (No. 4).
When it comes to choosing the right school, one size doesn’t fit all. Odds are high, though, that the right fit is out there for you or your child.
This was a special advertising section published in Minnesota Monthly.