Minnesota became a prosperous state with a highly ranked quality-of-life in large part because of a highly educated workforce. In the Information Age, a highly educated workforce is becoming more important than ever.
But, at a time when education is now more important than ever, Minnesota has some of the worst achievement gaps in the nation. Research shows that those gaps open as early as age one. Currently, almost half of Minnesota children start kindergarten behind, and too many of them don't catch up. Clearly, Minnesota isn't doing nearly enough to use high quality early education to prevent and close our alarming achievement gaps.
Early education can narrow achievement gaps and prevent huge taxpayer costs in the future. Economic research shows that every $1 invested in helping low-income children access the kind of high quality early education programs that prepare children for kindergarten yields about $16 in societal benefits. (There is no evidence that spending on wealthier families or low quality programs yields such high public returns.)
Close Gaps By 5 was formed because it's leaders believe that every child deserves the opportunity to succeed. Given that in Minnesota 31,000 low-income children under the age of five currently are unable to access high quality early learning services, we see indefensible inequity in our state. Minnesota's status quo approach to early education is devastating for those children, and will eventually cause serious harm to our collective society and economy.
We must change that trend as soon as possible.