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NEW REPORT: Is rural Minnesota losing policy-making clout?

By January 6, 2013 No Comments

A new report from the Center for Rural Policy and Development argues that rural Minnesota is losing its voice in the public policy decision making process. While the report is focused primarily on economic development rather than education, its analysis of the issues facing rural Minnesota and advocacy for rural Minnesota (pp. 4-8) have parallels for K-12 and post-secondary education. The following four themes summarize the challenges for rural Minnesota that the report identified in its interviews and survey results:

  • Declining and aging rural population
  • Rural-metro connections seem broken as evidenced by state-wide organizations that ignore rural Minnesota
  • Fragmentation of rural Minnesota interests with competition too often the response rather than cooperation
  • The role of government and legislators with ideological ties stronger than geographic ties

It is heartening to note that the report’s recommendations (pp. 10-11) match very well with the practices of MREA. When it’s 120 survey respondents were asked, “Which of the following is most important in promoting public policy and economic development interests of rural Minnesota,” the top four responses were:

  • 28% Having a state-wide presence
  • 26% Trusted research to define issues
  • 23% Convening influentials to define and support issues
  • 11% Building and mobilizing broad grass roots support

While this is good background, what is more important is to get ready to work with your rural legislators this session.  This is an important year for education funding reform and greater Minnesota has a few seats at the table. It’s time to lean forward and participate in the debate with good information and a unified voice with the MREA Platform.