By Kim McGuire
This year, for the first time, the state of Minnesota is picking up the $134 million tab for full-day kindergarten, a move educators hope will provide an academic jump-start for the state’s youngest learners.
Before now, about half of the state’s schools were offering free full-day programming. Others offered it, but at a cost to parents of $2,000 to $4,000 a year.
Full-day kindergarten provides the most long-lasting benefits for poor students, studies show, particularly those learning to speak English and those with special needs.
State education leaders say all-day kindergarten might be the key to reversing the state’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
“When you factor in the work we’ve done with the 0 to 3 population and our work with early learning scholarships for preschool, we feel like all-day kindergarten could really be a game changer,” said Bobbie Burnham, director of early learning services for the state Department of Education.
Full story: Free all-day kindergarten rolls out across Minnesota, by Kim McGuire, Star Tribune, Updated 09/02/14