By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s next governor named three new commissioners to his cabinet today.

And as WCCO’s Pat Kessler shows us, Governor-elect Tim Walz had a reason behind naming them all together.

Students at Farnsworth Aerospace Magnet School in St. Paul are already tackling complex problems of flight and engineering.
The kind of education Minnesota’s new Governor Tim Walz says is central to his vision for the state.

“What we know is, what happens in elementary school or before will shape the trajectory of people’s lives,” said Walz.

Walz is deliberately linking three new commissioners with jobs that don’t appear to have anything in common — the school house and the jail house.

For the new Commissioner of Education Mary Cathryn Ricker, who once taught here, learning early is key to life success.

“I learned how a first chance for students often depended on the second chances or opportunities the adults in our lives got,” said Ricker.

The new Governor is promising more higher education opportunities for children of color — appointing a Native American educator, Dennis Olson Junior, to head the Office of higher Education.

And he wants prison reform — appointing Inver Grove Heights Police Chief, Paul Schnell, as the new Corrections Commissioner.

“At the end of the day, we know that education is the great equalizer,” said Schnell.

Minnesota schools have some of worst racial disparities in the nation. Walz says he’s hoping his strategy of early intervention and prevention will help.

Pat Kessler

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