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FastTRAC Initiative paves the way for hard working Minnesotans

Posted on July 30, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Categories: Education, Jobs

Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative
The Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative provides a route for students to advance their careers while providing for their families.

In March of 2012, Patricia Rice found herself moving to Anoka County, leaving behind life in a shelter. As a single mother trying to support her two children, Patricia met with a Minnesota Family Investment Program job counselor where she was able to find a job in a nursing home. She enjoyed the job, but needed something that could further sustain her family and help the community.

Patricia then learned about the Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative, which would lead her toward her goal of becoming a certified nursing assistant. 

The road to a degree can be difficult. Patricia found herself trying to balance her school and work, keeping a roof over her children’s heads. Thankfully, Minnesota FastTRAC provides understanding instructors and specially placed “navigators” who work with students to efficiently comprehend course materials. The Minnesota FastTRAC professors are determined to see their students succeed and move on into sustaining jobs.

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An Education Secretary's View of Minnesota

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Categories: Education

Governor Dayton and Secretary Duncan at the Education Town Hall
Governor Dayton and Secretary Duncan at the Education Town Hall Meeting

The best ideas to put children on a path to school success rarely come from Washington, D.C.

President Obama has put forward a plan to make high-quality preschool affordable for all children — a vital step in putting young people on a path to a thriving middle class. As I saw firsthand in a pair of visits in the Minneapolis area on Tuesday, that effort builds on the work of states like Minnesota.

The day began at Pond Early Childhood Family Center in Bloomington, where I sat with students who sang a song, recited the alphabet and discussed some of their favorite words. The visit was an inspiring example of great educators helping kids get ready for kindergarten in a setting of joy and support.

Later Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, and other leaders from business, the military, government and the clergy, joined a town-hall discussion at Kennedy Senior High School. At that town hall, parents, teachers, education leaders and others from throughout the state made clear that they have seen the power of early learning — and that they know we must reach many more children.
That understanding did not emerge from Washington. Forward-looking states have led the way — including Minnesota, where Dayton this year signed a bill that invests nearly $200 million in early learning, helping tens of thousands more children attend high-quality child care, preschool and all-day kindergarten.

Minnesota has made a priority of preschool through an Office of Early Learning, a Children’s Cabinet and an Early Learning Council, which together ensure that the cradle-to-career continuum begins with a strong start. In addition, as a winner of a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant, Minnesota is creating systems and infrastructure that offer new ideas to other states.

Minnesota’s work represents real progress for families and children in the face of great need. The state’s new investments will reach about 8,000 children over two years, but that leaves many 3- and 4-year-olds — some 35,000 of them — without access to high-quality early learning opportunities. And that’s why we need to work hard, in Minnesota and across the country, to reach so many more students.

Why? Because of the pivotal role that quality preschool education can play in a child’s life. Studies confirm what every teacher knows: Young children who experience secure, stimulating environments with rich learning opportunities from an early age are better prepared to thrive in school. They reap benefits in high school graduation rates and employment, and are less likely to commit crimes.


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Budget for a Better Minnesota: What's In It For Children

Posted on July 18, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Education, Budget

During the 2013 legislative session, Governor Mark Dayton worked with legislators to create a better Minnesota for children and their families.
A student sits with a thank-you note for Governor Mark Dayton. Gov. Dayton worked with legislators during the 2013 legislative session to create a better Minnesota for children and their families.


During the 2013 legislative session, Governor Mark Dayton worked with legislators to create a better Minnesota for children and their families. 

In a recent Waseca County News editorial, the commissioners for Education, Health, and Human Services: Brenda Cassellius, Ed Ehlinger, and Lucinda Jesson, respectively, explained all the ways the budget will enhance and improve the lives of thousands of Minnesota children. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Improving Minnesota Schools 
  • Addressing Child Homelessness
  • Keeping Kids Safe


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The Minnesota Dream Act Informational Video

Posted on July 17, 2013 at 1:45 PM
Categories: Education

This video was produced for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education to share and spread information regarding the Minnesota Dream Act. As in how to apply and some things to expect on the application. Video produced by interns: Evan Gruenes, Laurel Schwartz, Alexandra Szajner, Linnea Moat with Governor Mark Dayton's Office.


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Expanding Early Education Opportunities: Minnesota is a National Model

Posted on July 16, 2013 at 3:40 PM
Categories: Education


2013_07_16_dayton_duncan.jpg
Governor Mark Dayton with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan


Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Minnesota – drawing attention to President Barack Obama’s proposal to expand funding for early learning programs. 

During his visit, Secretary Duncan and Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius visited a classroom at the Pond Early Childhood Center in Bloomington. Later at Bloomington Kennedy High School, Governor Mark Dayton joined Secretary Duncan and others for an education town hall meeting. 

Under the President’s proposal, Minnesota would receive $38,700,000 in the first year of the Preschool for All program. This funding, combined with a state match, would serve about 4,736 Minnesota kids in the first year alone.

Under Governor Dayton’s leadership, Minnesota already has invested in early education. During the past legislative session, Governor Dayton and the DFL legislature invested $600 million in E-12 education. That includes $40 million for early learning scholarships that will help more than 8,000 Minnesota kids attend high quality childcare and preschool.



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Guaranteeing a Great Start for Minnesota Kids

Posted on June 26, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Education, Reform


Governor Dayton reads to children.
Under the new budget passed by Gov. Dayton and the legislature all Minnesota’s kids will have access to all-day kindergarten education.

Minnesota kids were big winners at the legislature this spring. Gov. Mark Dayton and the DFL legislature emphasized education – funding high-impact programs like all-day kindergarten and early childhood education scholarships. These bold initiatives are part of the broader $485 million education bill that ensures our state’s learners get the support they need to be successful

Programs like all-day, every-day kindergarten are proven to make a big impact in a child’s life and critical to closing Minnesota’s growing achievement gap. Unfortunately, some parents have to pay thousands of dollars for it, and some schools don’t offer it all. Currently, only 54 percent of Minnesota children are able to all-day kindergarten. A child’s access to quality education shouldn’t be limited by their parent’s income. Under the new budget passed by Gov. Dayton and the legislature all Minnesota’s kids will have access to all-day kindergarten education!

Early childhood learning also received a major boost this year with new funding for a scholarship program. This program targets Minnesota’s achievement gap by increasing access to high-quality pre-school and child care services. The $40 million influx means that 8,000 low-income children will be able to attend high-quality pre-school programs starting this fall. 

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Making College More Affordable

Posted on June 06, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Categories: Education

Governor Dayton is joined by legislators and constituents as he ceremoniously signs the omnibus higher-ed bill at the Minnesota State Capitol

Governor Dayton is joined by legislators and constituents as he ceremoniously signs the omnibus higher-ed bill at the Minnesota State Capitol 

Access to higher education is crucial to ensure that Minnesota has a competitive workforce that is prepared to fill the jobs of the future. That is why the budget enacted by Governor Dayton and the legislature makes a significant investment in college affordability and improving our state colleges and universities. By investing $250 million in higher education, with $46 million going to direct financial aid for students, the budget brings the dream of a higher education within reach for even more Minnesotans.  

A $250 Million Investment in Higher Education

» The Largest Investment in Direct Financial Aid in a Generation. State financial assistance has not kept pace with rising tuition and the other increased costs of post-secondary education. That is why the budget enacted by Governor Dayton invests an additional $46 million in the State Grant program, which will provide more than 100,000 students with financial aid.

  • Helping For More Than 100,000 Students. The budget adjusts the State Grant Program to ensure middle class students have the help they need to afford higher education. This will provide financial assistance to an additional 9,000 Minnesota students. 
  • An Average Award of $1,740 Per Student. The budget adjusts the current State Grant Program formula to better reflect all of the costs of a higher education. Between rising tuition and the costs of living associated with going to school, the current system is inadequate. On average, this budget provides each State Grant Program recipient an additional $181 per year. The average total grant through the program is $1,740 per student.  

» Freezing Tuition for College Students. This budget freezes tuition at all MNSCU and University of Minnesota campuses starting for the 2014-2015 school year.  This will continue to help put the dream of a college education within reach for Minnesota students.  


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Governor Dayton signs Historic Education Funding Bill into Law

Posted on May 22, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Categories: Budget, Education

E12_Bill_Signing.jpgGovernor Mark Dayton signed the K-12 Omnibus budget bill as Representative Erin Murphy, Speaker Paul Thissen, Representative Kathy Brynaert, and Representative Paul Marquart watched.

Today, Governor Mark Dayton was joined by legislative leaders as he signed the K-12 Omnibus budget bill – the capstone of a historic session for education in Minnesota. 

“This year, the DFL legislature has made the investments necessary to give our kids the quality education they deserve—and the quality education our future depends on.  All-day Kindergarten should have happened years ago; we’re catching up and we’re moving ahead.  This is money well spent, and I think Minnesotans will know that and believe it,” said Governor Dayton. 

This legislative session was highlighted by once in a generation investments in our schools, including our state’s first commitment to all-day kindergarten for every child.  Minnesota schools will see over $240 million in new funding thanks to the budget agreed to by the Governor and DFL leaders, including millions for early learning, testing reform and special education.  


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Budget for a Better Minnesota: Investing in the Middle Class

Posted on May 21, 2013 at 11:59 AM
Categories: Budget, Health, Jobs, Education

Governor Dayton and DFL legislative leaders at a post-session press conference

On Tuesday, Governor Dayton and DFL legislative leaders held a press conference to talk about middle class investments made in the Minnesota state budget

The budget passed by Governor Dayton and the DFL legislature puts fairness back in the system.  It strengthens Minnesota’s middle class and our economy by lowering property taxes and making investments in education and job creation to move Minnesota forward.

The budget closes the deficit for the long term and makes spending cuts and reforms.  It pays for new investments in education and job creation by asking the richest 2% of Minnesotans to pay their fair share and closing corporate tax loopholes. 

  • A Historic Investment in Education:  For the first time in its history, Minnesota will offer All-Day Kindergarten to every child in Minnesota.  We are giving thousands of children access to high-quality preschool and child care.  And we are freezing tuition for the next two years at the University of Minnesota and all MnSCU campuses and increasing student financial aid to make higher education more affordable for middle class families. With nearly a billion dollars in new money for education, this budget invests in every learner in Minnesota – from early education through higher education.  This new funding will help give our kids access to a world-class education and train the best-educated workforce in the world. This budget will also eliminate the school shift by the end of the next biennium. [ Read more ]
  • A Growing Economy that Creates Middle Class Jobs – Minnesotans need a strong economy for good jobs, living wages, and a strong middle class. That is why the Governor and the DFL legislature took bold action this session to create jobs, strengthen our infrastructure, and make our state a more competitive place to do business. The budget enacted this session invests in job creation efforts that will leverage billions of dollars in private sector investment in Minnesota’s economy, make our state a more competitive place to do business, and get tens of thousands of Minnesotans back to work.  [ Read more ]
  • Property Tax Relief for Minnesotans – Property taxes have increased by 86% statewide over the past decade, with increases falling hardest on the middle class, seniors, and small businesses. This session, we invested over $441 million in property tax relief for Minnesotans by restoring the state’s commitment to cities, counties, and school districts, and providing direct relief to homeowners and renters. [ Read more ]
  • A Fair Tax System – According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, low-and middle-income Minnesotans pay 20% more of their income in state and local taxes than the wealthiest Minnesotans. In order to honestly resolve our state’s budget deficit, make new investments to strengthen the middle class, and invest over $441 million in property tax relief for Minnesotans, the budget enacted this session asks the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans to pay 2% more in income taxes. With an average income of over $617,000, the richest 2% are the only Minnesotans who are asked to pay more in income taxes. [ Read more ]
  • A Fair and Balanced Budget – A decade of deep cuts, games and gimmicks have caused Minnesota to lurch from one budget crisis to the next; limiting our ability to fund education and job creation. This session, the Governor and DFL legislature put an end to roller-coaster deficits with a fair and balanced budget that puts Minnesota on sound fiscal footing and delivers investments to strengthen the middle class. [ Read more ]

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Minnesota is Among Top 10 Best Educated States

Posted on May 09, 2013 at 2:43 PM
Categories: Education


nytimes.graphic

This week, the New York Times published an article that declared Minnesota one of the top ten best educated states in the nation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minnesota is one of ten states with the greatest share of bachelor’s degree holders. In fact, as of 2009, 31.5 percent of Minnesotans held a bachelor’s degree and 91.5 percent were high school graduates.


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