Vallay Varro was a founding state executive director. She now serves as the president of 50CAN.

Minnesota families taking part in our Remove the Blindfold Project are telling lawmakers that they don’t want to be blindfolded when it comes to choosing their the best preschool program for their child. But as it turns out, parents aren’t the only ones who are blindfolded. The lack of a quality pre-K rating system puts a blindfold on all of Minnesota taxpayers, because state funding for preschool programs is not currently tied to quality.

There is plenty of research confirming that the positive effects of high-quality preschool extend even through adulthood. For example, Senator Al Franken, in conjunction with Senators Olympia Snow and Casey, have started circulating a letter in the Senate to rally support for federal early childhood programs. In their letter they cite research that says that high-quality early childhood programs can yield a return on investment up to $16 for every $1 invested.

A just-released study also confirms the benefits of high-quality preschool, which extend even through adulthood. The study, which compared Chicago students who attended a high-quality preschool to a group of students that do not, showed that more of the students who attended preschool group had finished high school, attended a four-year college, and had skilled jobs requiring post-high school training. The preschool group also had a higher average annual adult income and were less likely to do drugs or get arrested.

The important thing to remember is that these benefits are completely limited to high-quality preschool. Our state pours $400 million worth of public dollars into preschool programs every year without any regard to quality–essentially a blind investment. In a tough budget climate, we can't afford to make blind investments. So please join our campaign. This is our chance to remove the blindfold over not just Minnesota parents' eyes, but taxpayers, too.


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