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Letter to Editor: Kids deserve quality early learning programs

Minnesota currently has one of the most daunting achievement gaps in the nation.

Unfortunately, this unacceptable achievement gap starts well before kindergarten.

Today, nearly half of all five year olds in Minnesota arrive at kindergarten not prepared to learn. And research proves that when children are behind at age five they are less likely to ever catch up.

Right now, our legislators have the opportunity to close that gap by providing access to quality early learning programs for all children, regardless of family income or geographic location.

Access to quality early learning programs is proven to improve school readiness outcomes for all kids. And when kids enter school ready to succeed, they reap the benefits for the rest of their lives.  And so does our state.

In order to work toward closing the achievement gap, we must make significant investments now, in our state’s youngest learners. Investing in quality early learning programs has one of the highest returns for kids and for our state. It’s clear that ensuring every child has the opportunity to attend a quality early learning program is the best investment Minnesota can make this year.

This session, the Legislature has made education – and early education in particular – a priority. This is why MinneMinds, a statewide coalition of more than 60 education, philanthropic, nonprofit and business organizations, is asking the Legislature to fulfill its commitment to invest in a proven pre-kindergarten scholarship model that will begin to put Minnesota on a path to ensuring all children enter school prepared to succeed in school.

The Otter Tail County Early Childhood Initiative strongly supports quality education for every single child. We hope that you will, too.

Jane Patrick, Otter Tail County Early Childhood Initiative