As numerous studies have proven, preparing children for kindergarten is critical to their academic success later in the K-12 system. Research has shown that up to 90% of brain development occurs before the age of five, and that nearly half of Minnesota children enter kindergarten not fully prepared to succeed. By offering every four-year-old the opportunity to attend preschool, the state hopes to help close the achievement gap and ensure more students have a successful educational career.
This bill allows every four-year-old in Minnesota to attend preschool free of charge, if their parents choose. This bill will go into effect in the fall of 2016, and all children who have turned four by Sept. 1 of 2016 can attend the program. The preschool programs will be funded and run through the state’s public school system. The 4K programming is voluntary and parents can still choose instead to send their children to a high quality child care program using an early learning scholarship.
If Minnesota wants to remain on the cutting edge of educational achievement, investment in quality early childhood education is essential. Children who come to school under-prepared continue to strain the K-12 and higher educational systems throughout their lives. There is a growing body of evidence that high-quality early childhood education targeted at the most at-risk children are effective and yield high returns to the public dollars invested in them. The Minnesota Legislature is prepared to make this investment for the long-term sustainability and success of our state’s economy. (S.F. 6)