Investing in Every Resident of our State

Last week Minnesota learned it was among nine states to win a “Race to the Top” education grant.

Minnesota will receive $45 million – $20 million of which is targeted to high-poverty areas in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Itasca County and on the White Earth Reservation. The rest is designated for oversight and accountability, including a new ratings system to help parents find quality child care providers.

In recent (and not so recent) years, Minnesota seems to have had more bad than good education news. And this grant is GREAT news! I say that because it will put money toward what we know works.

When kids enter school ready to learn, learn to read in 1st and 2nd grade, and read to learn by 3rd, they have a much better shot at success in school and life.

And we know how to get kids ready to learn. According to The Minneapolis Foundation, an MCF member, the Minneapolis Public Schools have seen a 13 percent increase in the number of children entering kindergarten ready to learn after just 3 years of funding. There are lots of other examples out there too.

Art Rolnick summarized it quite nicely in his post yesterday on mpr.org:

While many of us think of Minnesota as the education state, roughly half of our children do not start school healthy and ready to learn. And research shows that when kids start school far behind they don’t catch up. Many of those kids drop out of high school and are much more likely to struggle in our society. Indeed, criminologists claim that they can predict the need for prisons in the future by the number of children who are not proficient in reading by the third grade.

That last sentence astounds me!

So Minnesota, let’s match the federal money. Let’s really start investing in every resident of our state and fund early education sufficiently, so every child has access to preschool and all-day kindergarten. And every child truly has the opportunity to become a productive citizen.

Would anyone out there really rather fund prisons?

- Susan Stehling, communications associate

Photo: cc woodleywonderworks

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