Dropout Nation readers in Minnesota, especially in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-St. Cloud area, can take time to push for transforming American public education tomorrow morning, January 14, as Editor RiShawn Biddle and Dr. Richard Vedder of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity headline the first annual Restoring Excellence in Education conference at St. Cloud University’s Brown Hall.

Like the rest of the nation, Minnesota is at a crossroads. The state spends $10 billion a year on education with little to show for it. One out of every four high school freshmen in Minnesota drop out by senior year, while three out of every 10 fourth graders in the state – including 36 percent of suburban fourth-graders from middle-class households – are functionally illiterate, according to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Meanwhile higher education in Minnesota is also in need of an overhaul.

The Restoring Excellence in Education Conference is an opportunity to develop and share ideas and reform concepts that will bring high quality to our K-12 schools and universities. It features your editor, who will focus on getting parents engaged at all levels of education; and Dr. Vedder, who will talk the inconvenient truths about the nation’s higher education systems.

Also speaking at the event is former Minnesota State Representative Allen Quist, Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Bethany Lutheran College and the author of five books on education. He will participate in a panel on reforming K-12 education that will be chaired by State. Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud), chairman of the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Reform Committee, and will feature state representatives Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) and Pam Myrha (R-Burnsville). And Rep. King Banaian (R-St. Cloud) will moderate a panel on higher education.

Learn more about the event at minnesotaeducationreform.com. Visit http://www.stcloudstate.edu/campusmap/building.asp?bldgAbbr=BH) for directions to the venue.  And come ready to help give our kids schools fit for their futures.