Gov. Mark Dayton has re-authorized a statewide panel formed three years ago to work on early childhood education issues.
Dayton signed an executive order Thursday renaming the group the "Early Learning Council." Its primary goal is to ensure that all children are ready to begin kindergarten by 2020.
Following a State Capitol speech to pre-school students, parents and educators, Dayton said early learning efforts can help close the racial achievement gap.
"Minnesota has done some effort in this area before but not nearly enough, and we've lagged," Dayton said. "The funding was cut the last couple of years, so we've fallen behind other states' efforts, and we need to move this forward. Fortunately, there's a broad bipartisan recognition of that."
Dayton said he's pleased some Republicans have proposed spending more than his budget plan does for early childhood education programs. But he warned that money cannot come from other existing educational programs.