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U.S. Education chief pressures legislators on pre-K

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Pre-school teacher Jody Bohrer and her students in Bloomington, Minn. gave U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan a poster during a classroom visit on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. At Duncan's left is Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. Duncan visited the Twin Cities to promote an Obama administration plan to boost funding for early childhood programs. Tim Post | MPR NEws

With less than two days left in the legislative session and Gov. Mark Dayton threatening to veto a school funding bill, President Barack Obama's chief education official is trying to put pressure on legislators to cut a deal that Dayton will sign.

"I am writing because of the extraordinary potential that high-quality preschool has to set children on a path to success in school and in life," wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a letter to House Education Finance Chair Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie and Senate Education Chair Charles Wiger, DFL-Maplewood.

"Extending that opportunity offers the potential to transform the lives of countless young children, in Minnesota and throughout the nation, for decades to come."

Duncan, who visited a preschool with Dayton earlier this year, supports Dayton's proposal to fund universal pre-kindergarten. His letter highlights a divide between the legislature and Dayton over education funding.

DFL and GOP legislators in both houses agreed to $400 million increase for K-12 schools.

Dayton says he'll veto the bill unless it includes an additional $150 million, including partial funding of his universal preschool proposal.

If Dayton vetoes the bill, education officials said it could mean layoffs and delayed payments to schools.

Read Duncan's letter here: