The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released late last week the results of its early learning opportunities survey of communities across the state.
The report highlights several areas of concerns to address before the state facilitates the expansion of quality early learning. A major area of concern revolves around staff availability, largely due to low compensation and lack of available and affordable higher education opportunities for licensure. Other areas of concern noted around the state include: lack of facility space, transportation, professional development opportunities and a need for systems coordination in a parent-choice driven market place. View the full report.
MDE in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services last fall gathered stakeholder input about the status of early learning opportunities. MREA encouraged members to attend these listening sessions and many thanks to those of you who did participate.
As Minnesota enters its final year of a federal Race To The Top grant, received in 2011, the partnering agencies are seeking input for sustaining the progress that has been made so far in building out a quality early childhood system.
Early Learning Debate
The early childhood debate went into full swing at the Minnesota legislature last session when Governor Dayton proposed funding for an all day, every day four-year old pre-K program organized through Minnesota’s public school districts. The ambitious proposal didn’t make it across the finish line last year, but the legislature and Governor agreed to expand funding for existing programs and revenue streams like Head Start, School Readiness and early childhood scholarships.
MREA expects the debate about early childhood to fire up again when the legislature reconvenes in March for session. Governor Dayton has made it clear that he wants a dollar-for-dollar investment in early childhood education for every dollar in tax cuts the soon to be campaigning legislature wants to enact.
What impact the listening tour report will have on the Governor’s approach to early childhood expansion is yet to be seen. The legislature remains divided in approach for early childhood expansion, largely over the scope of services, levels of funding and how exactly existing child care providers remain in the game as schools expand their pre-K offerings.
MREA is involved in these policy discussions and will be reporting frequently on this topic through the upcoming legislative season. View the issue brief on early learning