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Letter: The value of preschool diversity

Educators have always believed our students benefit when they learn alongside people unlike themselves. Diversity makes them happier, stronger academically and ultimately more successful after they graduate. Willmar is fortunate to have growing diversity in our population.

It's good to see the science is catching up, especially when it comes to our youngest learners. National Public Radio recently broadcast a story summarizing the findings of some of the nation's top researchers.

Their report, "The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects," says there's no doubt kids who attend public preschool are more prepared for kindergarten than students who don't, especially students who live in poverty or are learning English.

But that doesn't mean we should narrowly target preschool just to them. "Part of what may render a pre-K classroom advantageous" for a poor student or a child learning English, "is the value of being immersed among a diverse array of classmates," NPR reported.

That's just one of the reasons most educators support giving every Minnesota family the option of sending their child to school-based preschool — it helps every student and amplifies the benefits for the kids who need it most.

Please support Gov. Mark Dayton's plan for voluntary, pre-kindergarten for every child and ask Rep. Dave Baker and Sen. Andrew Lang to do the same. The targeted preschool vouchers are less effective for the kids in poverty, and won't benefit the other students at all.

LaRae Mikkelson

Parent and Family Educator

Willmar Public Schools

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