Letter: Voluntary all-day kindergarten is the right step forward for our children’s education

To the editor:

Many of you know I have dedicated much of my life to improving our schools and strengthening the learning opportunities available to all children. Now in the state senate, I am proud to be part of legislation authorizing funds for voluntary all-day kindergarten.

Recently the Finance E-12 Division committee I serve on started a much-needed discussion about all-day kindergarten funding for all Minnesota children. Numerous studies show quantifiable education benefits of full-day kindergarten: improved literacy, language development and math skills.

When we look at investment in all-day kindergarten, we see a significant financial return. Economists with the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis estimate 7 to 16 percent in annual monetary returns for every dollar invested in early education.

Some may argue that all-day kindergarten is government intrusion into family life. To that, I want to remind people that the legislation proposed is for voluntary all-day kindergarten. Parents and schools have a choice about which kind of program is best for their kids and their district.

More than half of Minnesota children already participate in all-day kindergarten. However, some of these are fee-based programs making full-day kindergarten an impossible option for some low-income families.

Lengthening the school day at an early age will improve Minnesota’s educational outcomes and help put our kids in the best position possible for future success.

John Hoffman

 Hoffman is state senator for District 36, which includes Champlin, Brooklyn Park north of 85th Avenue and part of Coon Rapids.