Higher Education Reflections | Representative John (Jack) Considine

Students United sent out questions to all candidates with accessible contact information who are running in a district that encompasses a Minnesota State university. In a series of blogs we will publish all candidates who responded to our questions. For a complete list of respondents click here.

Below are Representative John Considine’s answers to the questions Students United sent out to candidates. Representative Considine is currently running for the Minnesota House of Representatives District 19B seat. Minnesota State University, Mankato is in District 19B.

Thank you for providing me an opportunity to express my on-going support for college students in our Minnesota State University system.  Following is my response to your questions.

Minnesota State universities rely on state funding to continue to serve students. Should the state prioritize the funding of higher education public institutions? If so, explain how would you ensure Minnesota State universities are adequately funded. If not, explain why funding public institutions are not a top priority.

Yes, Minnesota should put funding of the Minnesota State University system as a high priority for funding.  Those seeking higher education in our State deserve access to an affordable, quality education. The Minnesota State University system is the best for providing this.  Investment in these universities is also important to all in our State because we need to plan for the workforce of the future.  If we want to continue to be competitive at national and global levels, we need to invest in the education of the upcoming generation and the Minnesota State University system, if adequately funded, provides for these needs.  To ensure adequate funding, I believe the state legislators need to look for dedicated revenue streams so that the quality of our education system does not have to complete with other needs in the State.  

In recent years, Minnesota State has worked to increase its enrollment and its retention from underrepresented communities. Do you see these steps as important for Minnesota’s public universities? If so, what is your plan to help aid Minnesota State? If not, explain why you don’t see this an important?

Yes, increasing enrollment and retention of students from underrepresented communities is important for the Minnesota State Universities. I strongly believe that all people in our State should have access to higher education.  Also, it is in the State’s own best interests to explore and support all pools of talent to address anticipated shortages of qualified professionals.  If given the opportunity to receive an outstanding college education, traditionally underrepresented groups of students will help us overcome the projected workforce shortages of college educated professionals  Steps to promote this include increasing the State’s allocation to the State Universities in an effort to stop tuition increases, increasing bonding for university upkeep and expansion of facilities, and increases in financial assistance to students in these State Universities.

Should the state have a role in making Minnesota higher education institutions more accessible? If so, explain its role. If not, explain your reasoning.

I am not clear on how you are defining accessibility but for me, one of the biggest challenges our State faces is creating pathways for low-income youth to complete a college degree.  This is a multi-dimensional problem that means  overcoming financial obstacles, some of which I have addressed above.  But there is also a problem of college preparedness.  That means we need to ensure quality education in high school as well as having high school guidance counselors who encourage all students to consider college, regardless of their ability to pay.  Once we increase our access to higher education to all youth, then there needs to be mechanisms that help them succeed while in college.  Such programs might include special funding for emergency financial problems (e.g. college students who commute having their car break down) as well as increased mentoring for first generation students on how to be successful in college. Then we need to increase our efforts at getting new graduates into meaningful and profitable jobs and career paths.  Increasing these efforts will not only benefit the students but it is in the State’s bests interests as well.

In conclusion, let me just add that I have supported education throughout my tenure as a legislature and I have no intention of veering from that commitment.  I am also particularly committed to the Minnesota State University system. One of these schools (MSU Mankato) is in my district and I maintain continued contact with the students there.  Also, both of my children received their degrees at a Minnesota State University and that education launched them into successful and productive careers.  As a legislator, I am committed to making these experienced available to all in Minnesota.

And by the way, thanks for being involved in an organization that gives a voice to students across the university system.  Students United amplifies the collective voices of college students in Minnesota and our State needs to hear and respond to that voice.

Thank you,

John (Jack) Considine

Mn State Representative, District 19B

To learn more about Representative Considine click here.

Aly Hagglund