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As others see it: Time for all-day K

Then a principal at Duluth's Homecroft Elementary, Bill Gronseth saw with absolute clarity what studies had been touting for years: All-day kindergarten, as opposed to just half days, gave kids a jump-start on learning and led to remarkable academic success. ...

So, in 2009, following many months of discussion and debate, the school district decided to start offering full-day, every-day kindergarten to all. ...

Although the Minnesota Department of Education encourages districts to offer full-day, every-day kindergarten, only 57 percent of districts do. Another 17 percent offer the unfair-to-less-wealthy-families option of paying for full-day, something that can set families back $3,000 to $4,000 a year.

But all-day, every-day kindergarten soon could be offered statewide -- and paid for by the state.

Gov. Mark Dayton's proposed budget included $40 million for all-day, every-day kindergarten.

And Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Tower, said he'll push for full state funding for all-day, everyday kindergarten, a number that may reach as high as $170 million.

"We know it works," said Tom Dooher, president of the 70,000-member teachers union, Education Minnesota.

The union has identified all-day, every-day kindergarten as one of its legislative priorities this session. ...

Responsibility for making all-day, every-day kindergarten a high priority statewide for all, regardless of income or ZIP code, falls to the governor and to lawmakers in St. Paul. The benefits of making the investment ought to be as clear to them as they were to educators in Duluth, including Gronseth.

It can be just as right for the state of Minnesota.

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