While some students across the state, including in Marshall, have been going to classes for a couple weeks already, everyone else debuted their new school clothes and put their new school supplies to work Tuesday.
And this year, for the first time, the state is footing the bill for all-day kindergarten.
If you ask us, this is a monumental, game-changing shift in early education that is long overdue.
The $134 million investment is a move that educators hope will give the state's youngest learners a jump-start to their education career, and with the persistent achievement gap always in the back of educators' minds, we think this will go a long way to helping our young students. We won't see the effects of this investment immediately, but down the road, we're convinced this will be a good thing for our students.
Before this year, roughly half of the schools in Minnesota were offering full-day schooling for kindergartners at no cost. Marshall Public Schools has had all-day, every-day for kindergartners since 1999 - its program supported by a local referendum, leaving no additional charge to parents and families. Before this year, other districts have charged anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 per year.
Not only could this go a long way to narrowing that achievement gap and give kids a much-needed boost in their early educational years, students still learning to speak English and special needs students will likely have a much easier time in their early years of school.
Thanks to all-day kindergarten, our youngest students are on track to garner the skills they need to be successful students.
The state of Minnesota, our elected officials, have thrown nearly $900 million at Minnesota schools in the last three years, and initiatives like all-day kindergarten, along with increased funding for all schools and a repayment of the $2.8 billion school shift, has more than convinced us our leaders in St. Paul care deeply about today's students and the state's future.
Our students are their priority. And that's the way it always should've been.