Lt. Governor Tina Smith Visits Kennedy Elementary
By Joe Steck – Mankato Times
MANKATO, MINN. — Lt. Governor Tina Smith made a visit at the free prekindergarten program at Kennedy Elementary school in Mankato. The program is part of Governor Dayton’s $25 million initiative which started in 2016. Mankato received $164,000 which funded 32 four-year olds to attend voluntary pre-kindergarten for free.
The Lt. Governor invited the media to see the program and pitch the Governor’s education agenda in which Mankato would receive $745,000 during the next two years to continue and expand their pre-Kindergarten program.
“This is the second year for this program at the Kennedy site and the first year for the voluntary pre-Kindergarten program,” said Joan Morrison, Pre School Supervisor “We had one student who no to little English and how he can have a full conversation. The program builds social, emotional and pier relationships.”
Lt. Governor Smith feels that the program helps fill the achievement gap.
“Access to preschool is a proven strategy for closing opportunity gaps and preparing all children for kindergarten and success in school. We can already see the impact of free, voluntary pre-Kindergarten at schools like Kennedy Elementary,” said Lt. Governor Smith. “With a $1.65 billion budget surplus, we have a unique opportunity to provide thousands more Minnesota four-year-olds access to quality early learning programs. I urge the Legislature to put our littlest learners at the top of their priority list this session.”
The Minnesota House and Senate both passed education bills, which are now in committee to put together the final proposal to send to the Governor.
Representative Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea was appointed to the conference committee for House File 890, the Omnibus Education Finance Bill which passed on a bipartisan vote of 75-54. The bill invests $1.1 billion in education over the previous budget level, targets more than $300 million for proven early learning programs including scholarships and school readiness aid, and works to attract and keep the best teachers in the classroom.
“We are fortunate that we have a Governor and Lieutenant Governor that put a value on education,” said Rep. Bennett “We differ on our approach to close the achievement gap. The Governor is using a shotgun approach with taxpayer funded pre-school. Out approach is targeted through early childhood scholarships.”
Republicans feel that their bill will put parents in the driver’s seat of their child’s education by allowing them to choose an early learning program that works best for their child and family.
You can see Governor Dayton’s budget proposal here
You can see the House Education Omnibus bill here