A Proposal to Expand Early Learning

Our board chairman, Mike Ciresi, and University of Minnesota economist Art Rolnick both care deeply about early learning. For more than a decade, they’ve worked with many other business and civic leaders—including the Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children—to close and prevent achievement gaps by expanding access to early education.

Minnesota has made great strides on this issue, but there’s still work to do. More than 35,000 low-income children under age 5 can’t access quality early-learning programs that use kindergarten readiness best practices.

Recently, state policymakers have struggled to answer this question: Should we prioritize funding for those 35,000 left-behind infants, toddlers and preschoolers, or should we help all 4-year-old children of all incomes?

It’s an important debate, and not even Ciresi and Rolnick agree on everything. They have, however, landed on a compromise that they can both support. Their idea just might be the bipartisan solution Minnesota has been looking for—and they explained it recently in the Star Tribune.

Sarah Gillund