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Carolyn Strnad, Moorhead, Published March 30 2013

Letter: He’s a champion of early education

State Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, deserves our gratitude and support for his leadership as a champion for quality early learning – something that benefits children, our communities and the future economic prosperity of our state.

Economists and business leaders agree that investing in education is critical for job and business growth. Starting early with quality pre-kindergarten learning opportunities is the best place the state can invest its dollars. Today, 50 percent of 5-year-olds, our future workforce, enter school not fully prepared to succeed. When we don’t prepare kids for a lifetime of success, they are 25 percent more likely to drop out of high school and 60 percent more likely to never attend college.

Yet by 2018, 70 percent of all Minnesota living-wage jobs will require some post-secondary education. As our state’s current workforce ages, we need to ensure that all Minnesotans, not just those residing in the Twin Cities metro, will be ready to enter the working world and replace those retiring at a rapid rate.

While there are many ways to address Minnesota’s workforce challenge, research proves that investment in early learning has the greatest return on investment. Ensuring early childhood education for all children – regardless of family income or geographic location – is the only way Minnesota can guarantee future economic growth.