Help close the education gap

Minnesota should fund full-day kindergarten for all students.

by Daily Editorial Board

A portion of Gov. Mark DaytonâÄôs proposed education budget aims to close the education gap in Minnesota by starting at one of the most basic levels of school âÄî kindergarten. His plan to fund full-day kindergarten needs to be given serious consideration.

The case for full-day kindergarten is persuasive. A recent University of Minnesota study observed full-day kindergarten students and monitored their progress against national benchmarks. The achievement gap among these students was eliminated. At-risk children in full-day kindergarten outperformed other at-risk children. Overall, the students in the study tested above standardized reading levels through the third grade.

More than 35 states already fund full-day programs. In Minnesota, however, funding has been left up to individual school districts. Some districts cannot provide full-day kindergarten for all of their students, forcing the students to settle for half-day attendance or to pay for private school.

Less than half of Minnesota kindergartners are in full-day programs. DaytonâÄôs funding would allow more students to attend full-day kindergarten.

Failing to provide this opportunity to all students is putting them at a disadvantage from their very first day of school. Of course an education gap will exit when some students are provided only half âÄî literally âÄî of the education others receive.

Full-day kindergarten provides undeniable benefits to children. More than half of the nation has already made full-day funding a part of their education budgets. Minnesota should follow suit and provide all its kindergartners an equal opportunity for a high quality education.