This past Wednesday, MinnCAN was proud to join hundreds of early learning activists—and some super cute kids—at the 12th annual Voices for Children Advocacy Day at the Minnesota Capitol.
The rally had something for everyone: event organizers led activities, songs and dances for the pre-K students in the crowd, while Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-46A) and Sen. Dick Cohen (DFL-64) addressed the rally’s more mature attendees. “What would Minnesota look like if we valued these kids’ futures more than anything else?” Rep. Winkler asked, explaining what drives his and Sen. Cohen’s focus on expanding access to high-quality pre-K.
Minnesota has made significant progress for our youngest learners. In 2013, the Legislature passed historic investments for pre-K scholarships, and funds are already rolling out and making a difference for kids.
But more funding is needed. Current appropriations reach only 9% of eligible children, meaning that thousands and thousands of low-income kids still lack access to pre-K that would set them up for success in kindergarten and beyond.
At Voices for Children Advocacy Day, the message was clear: to help Minnesota’s youngest learners, especially those most at-risk, we must stay active. Just as the day’s organizers encouraged kids to get up and move, the rally’s emcee, former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, urged the crowd to take action. “We’re not asking you to be profession lobbyists. We’re asking you to be parents,” he explained.
Legislators need to hear from parents, educators and concerned citizens, to know that “MinneMinds” pre-K scholarships are having an impact, and that their constituents—and, most importantly, Minnesota kids—need funding for these scholarships to increase.