To the Editor:
As an educator, parent and state legislator, one of my top priorities has always been to ensure that every child in our state has the same opportunity for a high quality education. At the start of the 2007 legislative session, I joined my colleagues in the House in demonstrating our commitment to education by introducing legislation that provided enough new investment for a stable increase in the state's funding formula, made voluntary all-day kindergarten available to every student, and restored funding for critical early childhood programs.
Although we were not able to accomplish all of these goals this session, I believe we laid a strong foundation we can build on in the coming years. The final compromise bill is the largest state investment in Minnesota public schools in years, providing nearly $800 million in new state funding. It makes voluntary all-day kindergarten available to more children, significantly closes the special education funding gap, and makes strategic use of one-time money for building maintenance and technology. The bill also increases high-school rigor with advanced placement, IB and concurrent enrollment, and for the first time in nearly two decades, provides money for libraries.
Early childhood education fared well with fully restored funding for ECFE, Head Start and School Readiness. Now that we’ve taken steps back to 2003 funding levels, we must make a significant and sustained commitment in this area. State investments in early childhood help close the academic achievement gap, giving us the best return on investment and should be a cornerstone of good budget policy.
I am confident we will continue to build on the success of this session, as we work to restore our state's rich tradition of excellence in education