The Minnesota Department of Education, in partnership with the Minnesota Initiative Foundations and Minnesota’s Future, is holding regional community listening sessions across the state this November. The aim is to learn how the state can be more effective in linking policies, programs and practices to ensure every child in Minnesota has a high-quality early education. Learn more or register.
The key questions they will be asking are:
• What early learning experiences are working for young children and families in your community?
• Where are the gaps in your early childhood system?
• How can we support building the capacity of the early childhood workforce in your community?
The Governor’s Children’s Cabinet will use these listening sessions to guide the development of their early childhood initiative for 2016. Rural K-12 has an important role to play in this discussion. As representatives of K-12 systems we encourage you to register and attend a meeting near you. Learn more or register.
During the 2015 legislative session, Governor Dayton unveiled a very bold proposal to create a universal, all-day, every-day, four-year-old preschool system across Minnesota known as Universal Pre-K or UPK. While his proposal didn’t pass, significant new money was invested by the state in existing early learning revenue streams, namely targeted early learning scholarships, School Readiness programs in K-12 systems, and expanded Head Start funding.
Debate Emerges for 2016 Legislative Session
What emerged from the 2015 debate on UPK was a tense, complex discussion about what constitutes quality early learning, who should be helped by the state, and a turf battle between public and private provider interests and issues of staff qualifications and capacity.
Governor Dayton has made it clear he wants to revisit early learning funding in 2016, especially since it’s likely that the state will have surplus funding. While the start of the 2016 legislative session is still a long way off (March 8), Dayton’s administration is hitting the road to gather community input on early childhood opportunities in various communities. If he wants success in 2016 on expanding early childhood opportunities, more homework is needed.
Resources to Prepare for Meetings
MREA has prepared the following information to help participants contribute knowledgeably to the listening sessions, in addition to sharing personal experiences in community and school-based early learning programs. Expect more information from MREA later this week.