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News


11/03/2016

Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature have given considerable attention to the needs of Minnesota's youngest learners in the past two legislative sessions. While they agreed on the importance of increasing access to early education, a large point of discussion was the best way in which to deliver it. Knowing that the Administration and the Minnesota Department of Education were actively seeking input, a group of early childhood stakeholders called the Minnesota PreK-3 Design Team, which includes Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation SMIF), its five sister Minnesota Initiative Foundations, and other partners worked to develop recommendations on what a voluntary, statewide, mixed-delivery preschool approach could look like in Minnesota.The final report has been published and is available online at SMIF's website.

Recommendations by the Design Team included:

Provide a Mixed Delivery Approach: Recent statewide focus groups and surveys found that families strongly value having choices regarding where to send their children - including public school programs, child care centers, Head Start and family child care. This "mixed-delivery" approach allows for private and public funds to be combined to provide care to more children.

Support Higher Learning for Teachers: Teachers are the most important element of any early childhood program and the Design Team recommended that eventually all lead teachers have a 4-year college degree. It will take time, up to 10 years, for Minnesota's early childhood educators to earn these degrees and it is critical that current teachers, especially teachers of color, are supported in earning their degrees.

The PreK-3 Design Team Report reflects more than 35 voices from organizations throughout Minnesota. Jon Millerhagen, executive director of the Minnesota Elementary School Principal's Association was one participant in the workgroup. "Conversations were intense but good," he said of the process. "This was an important step in bringing Minnesota's early childhood players together and really focusing on the needs of children and families."


ROD HALVORSEN
© 2015 KSUM KFMC


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