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Early Learning Scholarships

by Chad Dunkley
May/June 2015
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/early-learning-scholarships/5022314/

In nearly every state there are discussions happening about how to fund early care and education. It is rare for a week to go by without a major newspaper publishing an article on increasing investments or the effectiveness of early childhood education. At no time in our history has early childhood ever gained this much attention.

Minnesota took a unique path to increased investments in early education and I want to share our story here. By most accounts, Minnesota does very well in educational rankings. We have the highest ACT scores in the country and some of the most respected public schools in the nation. Yet, we also have a stubbornly large achievement gap between those who have and those who have less.

Like many wonderful victories, Minnesota's momentum began out of dire circumstances. In 2003, Minnesota, like most states, was faced with a multi­billion dollar deficit. We had legislators and a governor who talked about the importance of early childhood, but, with very little discomfort, slashed funding dramatically when faced with a deficit. At the time, Minnesota was recognized as one of the leaders of funding low-income families' access to high-quality early learning programs. But during ...

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