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Letter to the editor: Early learning benefits are many

As a mother, I truly believe quality early learning opportunities benefit all kids and families. Because of the quality early learning programs available to my family, I feel confident that my kids are getting the best possible start and will be ready for kindergarten, which research proves is one of the most important milestones towards lifelong success. Tragically, this is not true for most families in Minnesota.

An estimated 15,400 low-income children (50 percent) arrive in kindergarten each year not fully prepared to succeed. Yet neurological data proves early these years are vital for development of language, motor skills, and social-emotional skills: the foundations of health and wellness.

When classrooms are filled with kids that are ready to learn, we give all kids a better chance at success. We also reduce the burden on taxpayers, reduce the need for expensive remedial education, disruptive discipline and special education programs. We reduce the dropout rate in high schools, the dependence on welfare, and crime. And, we reduce the state's daunting and unacceptable achievement gap. These are facts.

We know early education works. We need to encourage our legislature to fully fund early childhood education scholarships to close the achievement gap and put our youngest children's needs at the top of our budget list. If we continue to under invest in our youngest children, we not only fail them, but we fail ourselves and our state's future.

Susan Zackery - Woodbury

Zackery is director of New Horizon Academy in Woodbury