Of course, all of this begins long before a child ever steps into a classroom. The neuroscience on early learning and brain development is clear: most brain development happens in those earliest years. In fact, 85% of brain development happens before age five. Studies show that students who enter school with no preparation find it almost impossible to catch up. Early childhood education must be a critical part of any strategy to close the achievement gap. Because of the leadership shown by the Minnesota Legislature last year, $46 million has been set aside for scholarships to allow parents to get their children in Pre-K learning programs. This is a monumental step to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach his or her fullest potential. While we are thankful for the expansion of early childhood education, we cannot be satisfied until every child goes to school ready to learn.
That is what it is going to take to prepare our children for college and career in a 21st-century economy. It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s certainly not going to happen by accident. It’s going to take a new approach, a community effort, and active leadership on the Minneapolis School Board. I look forward to taking on this challenge on behalf of the children on Minneapolis.