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The 20-minute survey that every Lao Minnesotan family should be a part of


Are Lao Minnesotan youth just as ready for education? Source: Room to Read

Here’s a slap-in-your-face fact: less than 59% of Lao students are proficient in reading and math in Minnesota. This should startle you about our youth and the future of the Lao Minnesotan community.

It’s not news that Minnesota has one of the biggest achievement gaps in the nation. By 2018, it’s estimated that 70% of jobs in Minnesota will require at least some college level education. Will the Lao Minnesotan’s growing young population be ready? That’s what the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans (CAPM) in partnership with Wilder Research hopes to figure out in its latest survey on early childhood education.

According to the last 2010 Census, our home state has a growing Asian population of over 202,135; a 51% increase since 2000. Although the majority are Southeast Asians, “from income to employment, educational attainment, homeownership, English language proficiency, and health, the Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Karen ethnic groups fall far behind the Chinese, Asian Indian, Filipino, and Korean groups in Minnesota” (CAPM).

There have been numerous national surveys that have excluded the Lao and without enough research on our Lao community’s needs– especially in education, then our policy-makers have nothing on the state of Lao Minnesotans to base their decisions on. Are we comfortable with that?

We chat with CAPM’s Capacity Director, Angelina Nguyen, on the five things we should know about the survey and why 20 minutes is all you need to take a role in shaping education for the Lao in Minnesota.

CAPM Flyer

What is the Early Childhood Education Survey all about?

Like its name, the survey asks about SEA (Southeast Asian) children’s daycare and early childhood education arrangements.  Are SEA kids going to preschool, a neighborhood daycare center, a highly rated daycare center, or staying home?  What do SEA parents want in a daycare center?  How affordable are these arrangements for our SEA families?  Ultimately, the survey is about accessibility, affordability, cultural appropriateness, and quality of early childhood education and daycare in our SEA community.

Why should Lao Minnesotans and the rest of Southeast Asians take the survey? 

Because there is a dearth of information about SEA children’s early childhood education and therefore it’s an invisible issue.  To ensure the best, high-quality early education for our young ones, we need to understand the situation first.  By taking the survey, parents help shed light into this important education topic and help shape policy discussions around education opportunities for our children.  And because it’s easy to complete!  It only takes 15-20 minutes online ( and it’s offered in their native languages over the phone (651-280-2688).

How do you hope the results will help Southeast Asian families? 

The results will be reported to the MN Legislature, educators, policy-makers, direct service providers, and community members.  The intention is to draw attention to, inform about, and advocate for the topic.  Some concrete hopes: grandparents will be more aware that a child’s brain develops the most in the first three years of life and will do educational activities with their grandchildren more intentionally; policy-makers will understand the unique challenges of young children from refugee families and their educational opportunities (or lack thereof).

I heard there are freebies involved. What are the benefits for taking the survey? 

Eligible families are those with children age 4 and under who have heritage in at least one of the following ethnicities: Lao, Hmong, Vietnamese, Karen, Cambodian.  They get $10 Target gift card, 20% off MN Zoo admission, and entry into a lottery to win kid-friendly prizes like free tickets to the MN Children’s Museum, MN Zoo tickets, and culturally-appropriate children’s books.

Finally, where can we learn more about this survey? 

Visit the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans’ website.  See attached flyer.  Our facebook page has a campaign about this project too:

Complete the survey here: Share the survey. It’s one way to tell the public that the Lao Minnesotan community matters. The survey ends next week. Questions? Email Angeline Nguyen, Capacity Director at


-Chanida Potter

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