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

It’s no secret that quality pre-K is good for America. The federal Department of Education’s new emphasis on expanding access to quality pre-K through the Race to the Top competition is based on decades of research showing that investing in quality pre-K leads to a host of society-wide benefits, including a stronger, more robust economy.

The latest research by the Pew Research Center, however, focuses on the benefits for a more specific demographic: disadvantaged communities. Its new report, “Pre-K as a School Turnaround Strategy,” explains that when it comes to closing the achievement gap, “Early investment is the best investment.”

The report found that in low-performing districts, quality pre-K goes a long way, reducing grade repetition among first graders by 50 percent after two years and saving school districts nearly “$3,700 per child over the course of the K-12 years.”

It seems clear from the work being done on the federal level and independently that quality pre-k is the very beginning of a successful education experience. Minnesota would do well to follow the cue of the research being done at Pew by enacting a quality rating system now. Not only is critical funding at risk, but also the potential of our state’s most disadvantaged children.

We need to turn up the pressure on lawmakers so that they make a deal that includes these reforms, and make it fast. The best way to do that right now in the middle of this government shutdown is to join our Remove the Blindfold Project today.


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