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What is happening at the Capitol
The session ends in just over three weeks on May 21.
Bills moving through the House and Senate would put a constitutional amendment before the voters in November. Should existing sales tax revenue for motor vehicle repair and replacement parts be dedicated for road and bridge construction? This significant funding is not a new source of revenue. It is currently part of the general fund.
Typically, the gas tax is the dedicated stream of funding for these transportation projects. The gas tax has not been increased since 2006. Dedicating general fund revenue to transportation could crowd out spending for other programs like education. Unfortunately, education does not have a dedicated stream to rely on. Constitutional amendments need only a simple majority vote in the House and Senate to make it onto the ballot.
As always, see
Brad's Blog for more detailed information on what is happening at the Capitol.
Early Childhood Programs
The Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA), the government watchdog, released its report on the early childhood programs in Minnesota on Thursday morning. The OLA looked at the following programs with two types of early childhood programming.
Programs Offering Direct Services
Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE)
Early Childhood Health and Development Screening
Family Home Visiting
Head Start and Early Head Start
School Readiness Program
Voluntary Prekindergarten (preK)
Programs that Provide Funding Rather than Services
Child Care Assistance Program
Early Learning Scholarships
The OLA summarized their findings as, "Early childhood programs prepare children for school, help families pay for child care, and provide child health services among other things. We found that Minnesota's array of early childhood programs is complex and fragmented, and we recommend the Legislature consider aligning differences in funding and program requirements. We also found that, despite a state law on meeting school readiness goals, the number of children prepared for school is unknown. We recommend that the Legislature consider requiring assessments of children's school readiness."
Minnesota spends millions on early learning programming. Most educators, politicians and the public support quality early learning opportunities, particularly for at-risk children.
Head Start and school-based voluntary preK and school readiness programs have differing requirements, but most perform school readiness assessments. It depends on which setting a family chooses when using a early learning scholarship, whether the provider is required to assess their child for school readiness. However, in all cases, a single standardized assessment tool is not used, not all children are assessed, and the results are not collected or analyzed by the Minnesota Department of Education. The audit makes it clear that Minnesota has a long and expensive journey if it wants a process that will inform policy makers on the statewide effectiveness of its early learning programming.
In the spirit of funding what works, the audit sheds no light on whether early learning scholarships (preferred in the Republican controlled legislature) or voluntary preK (favored by the DFL Governor) is the best taxpayer investment to assure all children are prepared for kindergarten. I expect that is a disappointment to many at the Capitol. Here are links to the report. Summary Report /
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Schools for Equity in Education
Director of Communications and Community Outreach