A new bill introduced this week in the state Senate would expand early learning scholarships to low-income families so they could send their 3- and 4-year-olds to quality preschool and child-care programs.
Frank Forsberg, a Greater Twin Cities United Way executive who is chairing the early-education coalition MinneMinds, said the push to prepare all kids for kindergarten would help close a wide achievement gap in Minnesota.
"Low-income children and children of color start school behind, and often-times go through and finish school behind the majority culture," Forsberg said. "Closing this initial achievement gap, we think, would make a huge long-term difference in the lives of these children and would ultimately improve school outcomes as they go through elementary and high school years."
Gov. Mark Dayton has recommended spending an additional $44 million over two years on early learning scholarships, but the Senate legislation calls for about four times that amount.
A House version of the bill is expected to be introduced next week.