Clausen proposes all-day kindergarten bill

Measure would cost $170 million annually

Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, is carrying legislation to fund all-day kindergarten. Photo by T.W. Budig
Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, is carrying legislation to fund all-day kindergarten. Photo by T.W. Budig

Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, proposed on Thursday a bill that would provide funding for all-day kindergarten at public schools.

The legislation does not mandate that all-day kindergarten by offered.

“Studies have shown that students who attend all-day kindergarten programs score better on tests and make stronger academic gains as they move through the first and second grade,” said Clausen, a former Rosemount High School principal and current part-time grant writer for the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District.

According to the Senate DFL, about 49 percent of Minnesota children attend all-day kindergarten.

Of these, about 17 percent are enrolled in programs where a fee is charged.

Senate Democrats estimate the cost of their all-day kindergarten proposal at $170 million a year.

Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher enthusiastically endorsed the proposal.

“Providing universal access to all-day, every day kindergarten would be among the most significant steps Minnesota has ever taken to reduce the academic achievement gap,” said the teacher union president. “It’s a proven approach that educators can support as it moves through the Legislature.”

Senate Democrats cited a multi-year study by the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District that concluded test scores of all-day kindergarten students were higher than a control group of students.

The boost was sustained over the next three years, with some drop off by the third grade.

Dayton has indicated that early childhood education was one of his top legislative priorities.