Senator Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina) opened the 2014 Legislative Session with a focus on early childhood education. On the second day of session Sen. Franzen and several proponents of her legislation to increase funding for Minnesota’s Early Learning Scholarship Program, joined the Senate E-12 Education Finance Committee to highlight her bill and the difference it would make for Minnesota families.
“This legislation is an investment into the future of our state,“ said Sen. Franzen. “Nearly fifty percent of our kids are not ready for kindergarten and we know that kids who are not fully prepared are twenty-five percent more likely to drop out of school and sixty percent more likely to never attend college. School readiness is a need and our state should be working to prepare every student no matter what their families income is.”
Senator Franzen’s bill looks to expand the program and increase flexibility for parents of scholarship students by adding an additional $20 million for scholarships in 2015. The legislation also doubles the base funding appropriations each fiscal year until the need of all at-risk children is met.
The legislation is supported by a coalition called MinneMinds, whose goal is to address Minnesota’s critical care need for increased access to high quality early care and education opportunities to ensure all children are prepared to succeed in school and in life.
“I am grateful of the work MinneMinds is doing on this issue,“ said Sen. Franzen. “Their coalition now consists of 75 organizations who are working to improve our education system. Through their help, and the work of other organizations like them, we can continue to close the achievement gap.”